One of the perks of being a pastor is that media companies have begun seeking input and support from clergy on movies they think may be promotable within the Christian community. I’ve gotten to see several advance screenings of movies over the years. Back on November, I’d received an invitation for a preview of the new Narnia movie, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” The invite included a ticket for a guest. The first person who came to mind was JJ. Having always been an advanced reader, JJ first read through the Narnia series (yes, the entire series) when he was in 3rd grade. He’s reread the series over the last several years; assisted with the release of the first two Narnia movies. So, I took JJ as my “plus one” for the preview.
I enjoyed the movie, and felt the key issues from the book was included in this version. One of the issues filmmakers have to deal with is whether to try and keep every detail contained within the book. If the book is any good, the answer has to be “No”. A great book has lots of descriptive details designed to help you create a complete picture in your mind of characters, settings, emotions, etc. But, a movie includes many of those items visually, and can’t contain all the dialogue necessary to build into those things without seeming redundant. Plus, if most books were made into exact “replays” in a movie they would be 4 to 6 hours in length. (This is the reason PBS adaptations of books can run 2 or 3 episodes, or why a great book like Roots became a mini-series to keep all the intricate details that made the story complete.) Dawn Treader is a great blend of keeping important moments, while not bogging down with the minutia that mades it a wonderful book to read.
The two key items in my opinion that fall into that category include the elements of Eustace’s development into a dragon, and the process through which a person can overcome that selfish situation. (Aslan can do it, but it is still painful.) The other is the imagery of Aslan’s land and parallel to heaven. That was also well done, and yes, I had some tears. (I won’t explain them since that would create a spoiler.)
Our preview was attended by Walden Media co-founder Michael Flaherty. It was great having him answer some questions and share some of his personal insight into the movie and process. He talked with JJ after the movie and solicited his response as a student. The picture is of JJ with Mr. Flaherty after the movie. (Sorry about the quality. It was the back of a darkened theater and taken with a cellphone.) JJ promised he would write a review of the movie. Here’s what he (JJ) writes:
A Review of Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader by JJ Denton
The new Narnia movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader is full of action, suspense, and some calm scenes. The movie had very good special effects. After watching the movie, I was able to talk to maker of the movies, Michael Flaherty. He is president of Walden Media and maker of movies like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian. He is also the maker of Holes, Charlotte’s Web, and Bridge to Teribithia.
Although Dawn Treader is a family friendly movie, there is one scene that may scare younger kids, but otherwise than that one scene the movie is very good and definately family friendly.
Two of my favorite scenes in the new movie are when Eustace faints after he first sees a minataur, and the fight scene against the giant sea serpent. My least two favorite scenes are when Eustace tries to smash a painting and when people try to sell Eustace and Lucy. Some parts of the movie were just like the book, and some were not.
So I give Voyage of the Dawn Treader a Five JJ Stars rating! Now go see it for yourself!
Here’s a trailer clip to make you want to see it.