I saw this with my younger sister. That is my excuse for watching this film, otherwise I would not have watched it because the franchise has never interested me in the slightest (I have never finished the books either). Which would have meant that I had missed out on what (from my mid-20’s perspective) is a mildly enjoyable simple tale with swashbuckling heroes and a myriad of monsters from mythology.
Cambridge, World War 2. Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) find themselves staying with their fastidious cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) while their older siblings are in America. One day, a painting of an ocean with a ship begins spraying water on the three. Soon they find themselves transported to an ocean in Narnia and rescued by King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and his ship The Dawn Treader. He is on a quest to find seven lost lords and save Narnia from an evil magic.
Directed by veteran Michael Apted, this is the third in the trilogy and the biggest in scale thus far. Taking place three years after the last film, the Pevensie’s latest quest takes them to a series of islands. Filmed in Australia with a real boat, the locations are gorgeous. It is hard to fault them much as they cover gothic castles, ruined temples and North African slave markets.
The 3D is underwhelming. Whether moving or stationary, there is never a sense of depth with the shot and it doesn’t resort to the cheap trick of throwing things at the audience so it can’t show off the 3D. That’s not to say the film looks disappointing because the locations are exotic but you can see the 2D version and not miss much.
Story-wise and in terms of characterisation, it is simple. The Pevensie’s and Caspian journey from point A to B to C, face a series of off-the-shelf moral challenges and fears. So Edmund and Lucy have to step out of the shadow of their older siblings and Caspian has to prove he is a worthy King. Ultimately it is about maturing, accepting responsibility and yourself. As an older member of the audience I was ambivalent at parts due to the feeling of a lack of jeopardy. Indeed, there is a sense of familiarity with everything that transpires and even frustration that characters might take certain actions that are SO obviously wrong but I am not the audience.
That said, it is a mildly entertaining adventure where all of the actors play their roles well. Ben Barnes is dashing and Will Poulter as Eustace is the archetypal brat. There are some decent action scenes, especially the last where frantic intercutting pumps up some tension but the ending is never in doubt and it results in a finale that could be a satisfying closing of the franchise that I did not ever pay that much attention to.