Dawn Treader launches

I was greatly disappointed with the movie version of Prince Caspian, and I feared the treatment of Voyage of the Dawn Treader would be more of the same, playing down the Christian themes in favor of Hollywood blockbuster cliches.  I had heard from people who might know that Dawn Treader would go in that direction, despite the disappointing box office performance of Prince Caspian.  That movie caused Disney to dump the franchise, but Dawn Treader was picked up by Fox.  (The first Narnia movie, by contrast, was both faithful to the original, in its story and its themes, and extremely successful.)

But now the word is that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which opens this weekend, is good!  That it keeps the Christianity!  Also that it works as fantasy, with spectacular special effects in 3-D no less.  So I’m excited.

Here is the positive review from WORLD:

WORLD Magazine | Treading carefully | Megan Basham | Dec 18, 10.

If you see it this weekend, please post your verdict here.

from Voyage of the Dawn Treader

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Orianna Laun

    I haven’t seen it, but the movie guy in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn’t care for it. http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/movies/reviews/article_dcff8d38-fc5c-5c69-814b-0a6d1e10b25c.html (Not that that makes or breaks my seeing a movie–I average about 1 movie a year.)

  • Orianna Laun

    I haven’t seen it, but the movie guy in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn’t care for it. http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/movies/reviews/article_dcff8d38-fc5c-5c69-814b-0a6d1e10b25c.html (Not that that makes or breaks my seeing a movie–I average about 1 movie a year.)

  • WebMonk

    Orianna, please, please, please tell me that the reviewer in your article was justing being sarcastic or using hyperbole or is mangling the movie’s story or something! Please!

    “Although they are rescued by Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), he doesn’t know why they’ve been summoned, because Narnia is at peace. But when the voyagers learn that a nearby island has been invaded by slave traders, they embark on a quest: to collect the seven swords of the Lords of Narnia, lay them in a pretty pattern on the altar of Aslan and defeat — you guessed it — the ultimate evil.

    What the BEEP did they do to the story?!?!?

  • WebMonk

    Orianna, please, please, please tell me that the reviewer in your article was justing being sarcastic or using hyperbole or is mangling the movie’s story or something! Please!

    “Although they are rescued by Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), he doesn’t know why they’ve been summoned, because Narnia is at peace. But when the voyagers learn that a nearby island has been invaded by slave traders, they embark on a quest: to collect the seven swords of the Lords of Narnia, lay them in a pretty pattern on the altar of Aslan and defeat — you guessed it — the ultimate evil.

    What the BEEP did they do to the story?!?!?

  • WebMonk

    Also, Dr. Veith, the World article to which you linked is for members only. I can’t read the whole thing.

    Not a complaint, but just thought you might like to know.

  • WebMonk

    Also, Dr. Veith, the World article to which you linked is for members only. I can’t read the whole thing.

    Not a complaint, but just thought you might like to know.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I find it hard to believe that Douglas Gresham would permit them to ruin the Narnia story to such a perverted extent.

    BTW, Mr. Gresham is quite a nice fellow. I’ve corresponded with him before via EMail.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I find it hard to believe that Douglas Gresham would permit them to ruin the Narnia story to such a perverted extent.

    BTW, Mr. Gresham is quite a nice fellow. I’ve corresponded with him before via EMail.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Swords, lords, same thing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Swords, lords, same thing.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Sorry about the subscribers only link.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Sorry about the subscribers only link.

  • JVoss

    I think the stl reviewer makes some good points, but I enjoyed it as children’s story. The loathsome Eustace and the spunky Reepicheep made the movie for me. Also, knowing the previous movies helps the viewer to understand the temptations which Edmund and Lucy face on their journey.

  • JVoss

    I think the stl reviewer makes some good points, but I enjoyed it as children’s story. The loathsome Eustace and the spunky Reepicheep made the movie for me. Also, knowing the previous movies helps the viewer to understand the temptations which Edmund and Lucy face on their journey.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel

    The most charitable thing I can say about it is that it was inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia. Basically they made it into a generic fantasy flick. I can’t bear trying to explain it in detail; it just no longer feels like home. It feels like it could be any old fantasy world, where quests and magic and “evil forces” are things that just happen purely for their own sake.

    It’s a nice, charming kids’ movie. As a film adaptation of Narnia, though, it’s a failure. It’s not an acting failure or a directing failure. It’s a screenplay and writing failure.

    They need to forget about movies, and make this a high-budget cable television series so they can give everything the time it needs and let the story breathe and spread out a little.

    But most of all they need people working on the screenplays who loved the Narnia books before coming to work on this project. We all kind of hoped Douglas Gresham would supply that kind of guidance. But after seeing this film, I’d say that either he doesn’t care, or the franchise has effectively outgrown whatever influence he had.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel

    The most charitable thing I can say about it is that it was inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia. Basically they made it into a generic fantasy flick. I can’t bear trying to explain it in detail; it just no longer feels like home. It feels like it could be any old fantasy world, where quests and magic and “evil forces” are things that just happen purely for their own sake.

    It’s a nice, charming kids’ movie. As a film adaptation of Narnia, though, it’s a failure. It’s not an acting failure or a directing failure. It’s a screenplay and writing failure.

    They need to forget about movies, and make this a high-budget cable television series so they can give everything the time it needs and let the story breathe and spread out a little.

    But most of all they need people working on the screenplays who loved the Narnia books before coming to work on this project. We all kind of hoped Douglas Gresham would supply that kind of guidance. But after seeing this film, I’d say that either he doesn’t care, or the franchise has effectively outgrown whatever influence he had.

  • Pete

    I find that if a newspaper reviewer pans a movie, I love it, and vice versa. The opinions of people I know and respect are generally of much more predictive value. Contributors to this blog qualify in that regard and I’m dismayed at the overall “thumbs down” conclusions. Particularly since (other than the first book) the “Dawn Treader” was my favorite of the Narnia series. But the books are always better than the movies anyway, right?

  • Pete

    I find that if a newspaper reviewer pans a movie, I love it, and vice versa. The opinions of people I know and respect are generally of much more predictive value. Contributors to this blog qualify in that regard and I’m dismayed at the overall “thumbs down” conclusions. Particularly since (other than the first book) the “Dawn Treader” was my favorite of the Narnia series. But the books are always better than the movies anyway, right?

  • thirddayfreak

    I’ve not seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend this review by Focus on the Family’s Plugged In movie reviews. They review movies much better than your typical critical reviewer who see too many movies to have a fresh perspective. Over all it seems to me it probably stuck closer to the books more that Prince Caspian did, and has more of what C.S. Lewis was intending for readers to understand, as there are direct quotes of Aslan from the book in the movie.

    http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/chroniclesofnarniathevoyageofthedawntreader.aspx

  • thirddayfreak

    I’ve not seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend this review by Focus on the Family’s Plugged In movie reviews. They review movies much better than your typical critical reviewer who see too many movies to have a fresh perspective. Over all it seems to me it probably stuck closer to the books more that Prince Caspian did, and has more of what C.S. Lewis was intending for readers to understand, as there are direct quotes of Aslan from the book in the movie.

    http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/chroniclesofnarniathevoyageofthedawntreader.aspx

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    I find it interesting that there is this unquestioned NEED to turn every popular or classic book into a movie. Why? This question might be more profound than it appears on its surface. The nature of an artform (novel, film, painting, poem, etc.) is often critical to a particular work of art’s essence. This is not to say that translating a book into a film is alway bad, but my first reaction to the making of the Narnia films was to cringe at the very idea. Unfortunately, we now have to deal with, at minimum, mediocre translations, and maybe less reason for children or adults to read the books. I say this as both a lover of books and of cinema. But I see them as two distinct art forms with sometimes appropriate overlapping, and mostly not. Let’s not pretend that the Narnia films are anything more than some investors trying to reap the biggest financial payoff they can, even if there are other good qualities to be discovered between the credits.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    I find it interesting that there is this unquestioned NEED to turn every popular or classic book into a movie. Why? This question might be more profound than it appears on its surface. The nature of an artform (novel, film, painting, poem, etc.) is often critical to a particular work of art’s essence. This is not to say that translating a book into a film is alway bad, but my first reaction to the making of the Narnia films was to cringe at the very idea. Unfortunately, we now have to deal with, at minimum, mediocre translations, and maybe less reason for children or adults to read the books. I say this as both a lover of books and of cinema. But I see them as two distinct art forms with sometimes appropriate overlapping, and mostly not. Let’s not pretend that the Narnia films are anything more than some investors trying to reap the biggest financial payoff they can, even if there are other good qualities to be discovered between the credits.

  • Jp in Ca

    We liked it & may see it again over Christmas break. It wasn’t quite as good as the first Narnia movie but definitely better than Prince Caspian. I was glad they kept the Christianity in it this time – it sparked some good conversation with our daughter on the drive home. (It’s been several years since we’ve read the books.)

  • Jp in Ca

    We liked it & may see it again over Christmas break. It wasn’t quite as good as the first Narnia movie but definitely better than Prince Caspian. I was glad they kept the Christianity in it this time – it sparked some good conversation with our daughter on the drive home. (It’s been several years since we’ve read the books.)

  • Gregg

    The problem always for many is that the art of literature communicates in a way that is different from the art of video or movies. Those who loved the artistry of the book often struggle when the art of video is incapable of communicating in the same way. Add in production companies and marketing, and the hope of securing financing for another Narnia picture, and even more disappointment can ensue.

    For what it’s worth. I took my family last night. While this production reworked the order of the book and added elements (the seven swords), it did a commendable job of keeping the characterizations of Lucy, Reepicheep, Aslan and Eustace (probably the more important characters in this tale). Additionally, it kept the larger theme of living our faith in pursuit of Christ and his kingdom in a fallen world relatively intact. The Plugged In review noted earlier is good and fair. This interview with the producer of Walden Media was also helpful: http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jjmnolte/2010/12/10/exclusive-inteview-walden-media-president-michael-flaherty-on-dawn-treader-the-liam-neeson-controversy-and-the-franchises-future/.

    As a fan of the book (it was always my favorite in the series), I was a bit disappointed at the juggling of the plot which was me trying to fit a literary medium into a film medium, but I still enjoyed this movie as the movie it was created to be. My children enjoyed it, and I loved the deep spiritual conversation that my 8 year old started as we drove home. He was ready to follow Reepicheep into Aslan’s country and wanted to know how that happened. He wanted to know the other name for Aslan in our world, and he wanted to know how the Last Battle would come about. Deep, wonderful stuff, and Christ our Savior was exalted. Even more fun for this book lover, he wanted to know what came next in Narnia, and asked for us to read The Silver Chair.

  • Gregg

    The problem always for many is that the art of literature communicates in a way that is different from the art of video or movies. Those who loved the artistry of the book often struggle when the art of video is incapable of communicating in the same way. Add in production companies and marketing, and the hope of securing financing for another Narnia picture, and even more disappointment can ensue.

    For what it’s worth. I took my family last night. While this production reworked the order of the book and added elements (the seven swords), it did a commendable job of keeping the characterizations of Lucy, Reepicheep, Aslan and Eustace (probably the more important characters in this tale). Additionally, it kept the larger theme of living our faith in pursuit of Christ and his kingdom in a fallen world relatively intact. The Plugged In review noted earlier is good and fair. This interview with the producer of Walden Media was also helpful: http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jjmnolte/2010/12/10/exclusive-inteview-walden-media-president-michael-flaherty-on-dawn-treader-the-liam-neeson-controversy-and-the-franchises-future/.

    As a fan of the book (it was always my favorite in the series), I was a bit disappointed at the juggling of the plot which was me trying to fit a literary medium into a film medium, but I still enjoyed this movie as the movie it was created to be. My children enjoyed it, and I loved the deep spiritual conversation that my 8 year old started as we drove home. He was ready to follow Reepicheep into Aslan’s country and wanted to know how that happened. He wanted to know the other name for Aslan in our world, and he wanted to know how the Last Battle would come about. Deep, wonderful stuff, and Christ our Savior was exalted. Even more fun for this book lover, he wanted to know what came next in Narnia, and asked for us to read The Silver Chair.

  • Sarah

    Other than following the book chronologically, the movie was great. It had the major themes that Lewis wrote of, including the Christian message. The characters were well-developed and very easy to watch. The filmmakers did create plot-lines but they didn’t take away from the message of the story.

  • Sarah

    Other than following the book chronologically, the movie was great. It had the major themes that Lewis wrote of, including the Christian message. The characters were well-developed and very easy to watch. The filmmakers did create plot-lines but they didn’t take away from the message of the story.

  • http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com abeautifulordinary

    Dear Dr. Veith,

    I’m a student from your CSG this semester, and I’ve posted some reflections about your book God at Work on my blog.
    http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/writing-as-an-act-of-worship/
    http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-writers-calling/
    Thank you very much for sparking additional thought and discussion in my mind on the writer’s vocation. I would love to continue to hear your thoughts and dialogue more about this issue.
    Blessings,
    abeautifulordinary

  • http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com abeautifulordinary

    Dear Dr. Veith,

    I’m a student from your CSG this semester, and I’ve posted some reflections about your book God at Work on my blog.
    http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/writing-as-an-act-of-worship/
    http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-writers-calling/
    Thank you very much for sparking additional thought and discussion in my mind on the writer’s vocation. I would love to continue to hear your thoughts and dialogue more about this issue.
    Blessings,
    abeautifulordinary


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