Narnia in Three Dimensions

Okay, it’s time for a little Narina nerd talk. Last night Jen and I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and since I know that everyone cares so much about my opinion, I thought I’d share it. So, in no particular order, here are my thoughts on the movie.

First, it was the first 3D movie that I’ve seen, and I was thoroughly unimpressed. I paid $23 dollars for us to see the movie, and for that price I was expecting a live centaur to be in the audience. Not so much. I had to wear those bulky, dorky 3D glasses over my glasses, which wasn’t especially fun, and the picture quality wasn’t all that much better. I probably won’t pay to see a 3D movie again. It just wasn’t worth it. However, if you want to pay for me, I would be glad to go.

Second, I thought Eustace was a fantastic character. Will Poulter played the role of Eustace really well. He was obnoxious, hilarious, arrogant. Overall he was pretty close to the Eustace found in the book. He was probably the highlight of the movie for me.

Third, I was really disappointed by the way the original plot was distorted in order to turn the book into a movie. The whole idea of the evil mist just seemed…well kind of lame. It changed the whole feel of the story from a rip-roaring, high-seas, exploring unknown worlds adventure, into a battle against an unknown evil mist that did unnamed bad things. The mist became the unifying element of the story, rather than exploration and discovery. The anonymity of the mist was also a weakness. The movie never identified who or what the mist really was, and by the end, I didn’t really care if they defeated the mist or not.

Fourth, as other have pointed out, the movie totally missed it when it came to Eustace becoming a dragon. In the book, the whole point of Eustace becoming a dragon is that Eustace needed Aslan to save him, NOT that Eustace had a hero inside of him. Eustace’s need for Aslan was almost entirely written out of the movie, except for one brief clip toward the end.

Finally, is it just me or is Aslan slowly getting written out of the movies? I think that Aslan was in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for a grand total of five minutes. It’s so disappointing.

Overall, I thought that Voyage of the Dawn Treader was a good movie, but bad adaptation of the book. Yes, I realize that I’m being a total Narnia dork, but that’s just who I am. As a movie, I thought it was actually pretty good, but it just wasn’t the Narnia that I know, which was disappointing.

So should you see it? Yes. Just have reasonable expectations.

What about you? What was your impression of the movie?

  • http://twitter.com/darylhb @darylhb

    A greatly honest review! :)
    I've only seen the first film in the Narnia series, because I actually preferred the book and wasn't convinced to buy into a whole series of films.

    I actually just want to comment on the 3D film experience: I have seen quite a number of 3D movies by now and to be honest, all of the best 3D movies have been animated films. It just seems that the animation process lends itself more to successful 3D adaptation. In particular, "Toy Story 3" was THE best 3D movie I have seen, with "Despicable Me" also making great usage of 3D effects.

    So don't write 3D off completely yet; give an animation a try. ;)

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      That's good advice. I guess I need to see an animated film in 3D before I write off the experience. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Matthew Hill

      Interesting… I thought the 3D in Toy Story 3 was at best a distraction. I felt like they put too many of their eggs in the 3D basket and the story suffered.

      Despicable Me, on the other hand, is great fun in two or three dimensions, although it missed the mark as an exposition of Radical Depravity. (tic)

      How to Train Your Dragon was my first (post-)modern 3D viewing experience and lots of fun as well.

      Stephen—I also wear glasses, but this is one of those times where contact lenses save the day.

  • http://twitter.com/joshcalvetti Josh Calvetti

    Heh… you and I both have the exact same opinion. I will say that while it was sad to not see much presence from Aslan, he's not too present in the book either; in many ways, the only book in which he has a very significant visible role is the first one. Provided they don't excessively write him out or dumb him down, I'm okay with a bit of a minimal role.

    But I was disappointed with his interaction with Eustace as the dragon; there wasn't quite the dynamic analogy that is drawn in the book.

    And like you said, the mist was just kind of… well, dumb. I'm really cynical of movies anyways, but there were parts where I just wanted to laugh at the way the mist was used. It was rather predictable.

    As a whole, the movie felt as though it rushed through the essential plot to bring in the addition of the mist. And that's a shame, because the book is a great adventure.

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I agree that Aslan plays a minimal presence in the books, but when he appears it is very significant. Like when he appears as an albatross in the darkness, for example. In the book he appears and leads them out of the mist. In the movie he appears and does…nothing. In fact, it's not even clear that the albatross is aslan.

  • Joanna L.

    I appreciate your opinion. We love the original book series, and we were disappointed with the "Prince Caspian" movie concerning the parts where it diverted from the book. And it isn't a matter of them not being able to generate the special effects that book unfolds, with technology & cg nowadays, and that's why they remove it or change it. Rather, it's the fact that some in Hollywood prefer to remove the story elements that make them uncomfortable (aka – if it's a little too Christian for them, perhaps???). In conclusion: "Narnia Nerds, Unite!!!" :)

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I agree! Narnia nerds forever!

  • Lauren

    Well, in truth, I have not seen the Dawn Treader. I didn't want to, because I found a description of several scenes in the movie on the website, comingsoon.net. In one of them, a post-enchanted Eustace remarked that, "being a dragon wasn't all that bad."

    That nailed the coffin, so to speak, because the real, changed, Eustace would have never thought that being a dragon was alright. His transformation story is one of the most beautiful parts of the book, and it would have served the movie well to keep it intact. I don't know if I'm being picky, but when the directors take too much liberty with creative license like that, it kinda of sours it, to put it mildly.

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      Yep, that hit it. It totally missed the dragon part and the element of Eustace being changed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001339075217 Rogério Moreira Júnior

    Well… I really enjoy the movie – maybe because i didn't read the book for a few years, and don't remenber the original story. But i think that it's better than Prince Caspian (not so 'teen").

    But the best is: we probably will have a Silver Chair!

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      The silver chair is my favorite, and I sure hope they make one!

  • Bethany

    I actually thought they did a good job following the plot, but I think that's only because Prince Caspian took SO many liberties that weren't in the book. Totally agree that the anonymous mist failed as the antagonist (even purely from a plot standpoint and not taking the book into account.) When they first started making these movies, I was really excited. But I realized I must be getting older and wiser as I note that a book is always better than its movie adaptation. Oh well, the limits of technology!

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I agree that it generally followed the plot, but once it got into each individual scene it diverted significantly. So big picture, yes, it followed the plot. But I didn't like the liberties within each individual scene.

  • http://www.journeyafterdawn.wordpress.com Kat

    I…was trying to post something along this line on my own blog…but hey! I couldn't have said this better :) Agree with you.

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I guess great minds think alike!

  • http://www.christinahastings.com Christina Hastings

    I watched it last night too (in a different state though). :-) I thought it was great, but it's probably because I haven't read the book for several years. I did think they had several Christian themes running through it like battling the evil inside of you and knowing Aslan by another name in our world which I was kind of surprised that modern movie makers would keep that in there. I do agree that Eustace was amazing and 3D wasn't really worth the money. Someday though when they have 4-D, that'll be awesome!

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I think the thing that bothered me was that, even though they did have some Christian themes in the movie, those themes weren't necessarily in the book. I guess I'm just a Narnia nerd.

  • Sarah LeighAnn

    While I know that if I made the movie, I wouldn't have made some of the changes they did, I still felt the core of the story remained. I didn't really see that the dragon created a heroic change in Eustace, even in the film I saw that it humbled him. But I can see how they didn't really stress that enough. The film was shorter than I expected, but it hit most of the highlights of the book. All in all, I think it isn't always fair to compare books and films, because often the stories have to be told so differently for the varying mediums. It was different, yes, but as a whole I wasn't disappointed.

    Personally, I was pleased enough just that one of my favorite lines from the book was repeated almost word for word by Aslan in the film… "that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."

    I'll keep recommending it myself, for the very least so that Dawn Treader does well enough in theatres for The Silver Chair is produced. That's one of my favorites, too! :-)

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      I sure hope that they make the Silver Chair. That's my favorite book out of the whole series.

  • Martha

    When I read this book as a kid (for the umpteenth time), Aslan peeling Eustace out of his dragon skin was a pivotal moment in my understanding of sin and our inability to save or transform ourselves apart from God. From what I've read about the movie it sounds like it doesn't capture this at all. I'll be seeing it with low expectations.

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      They totally ruin that scene in the movie. That scene is one of my absolute favorites in the book, and they don't do it justice.

  • http://www.judahupdate.blogspot.com Briana

    We are complete Narnia nerds here, too. I'm glad you did a review. We toyed with the idea of having Lawrence take our boys to see it on opening day which would have been a HUGE splurge for us (and them). As you said, 3D movies are not exactly a "frugal" way to view a flick.
    But, we have listened to the Narnia series so many times on the audiobook CD's that we own that the CD's now skip in so many places. The "Voyage of the Dawn Treador" is my fav. book in the entire series and mostly due to the way Lewis illustrates the transformation of Eustace. I get chills every time I listen to the part when Aslan asks Eustace to take off his "clothes" to get washed and Aslan ends up having to strip Eustace of his scales. SO, to know that the movie really doesn't do a good job at portraying what for me was the most meaningful part of the book makes me glad that my hubby decided not to splurge this year for this movie with the boys.
    We'll wait to see if when it's out on DVD, and draw all the comparisons then (for free). :)

    • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

      Yeah I would agree, wait until the DVD. The movie really missed the scene when Aslan transforms Eustace. It didn't capture the book at all.

  • Jim

    I do agree there was a lot wrong with the movie. The mist was over-played and everything was out of order. But I do think there was a lot of good elements too that I think everyone might have overlooked. Reepicheep (or however you spell it) was fantastic. His relationship with Eustace was the perfect picture of humility, unselfishness, and brotherly love. But the thing that struck me most was his passion. His eagerness, always being as close to the front of the ship as possible, was inspiring. He had a great passion for Aslan. Even to the point where no one was allowed to touch his tail because he valued it so much; not because it was personal but because he treasured it as a gift from Aslan himself (do I value you gifts that much from God?). But the most incredible part was his desire to see Aslan’s country. That was his focus the entire movie. I was convicted on how tied down I am to this world and not adequately preparing for the next and greater world. I dunno, just a thought :)

  • http://leolalloyd.co.cc/ Leola Lloyd

    I do agree there was a lot wrong with the movie. The mist was over-played and everything was out of order. But I do think there was a lot of good elements too that I think everyone might have overlooked. Reepicheep (or however you spell it) was fantastic. His relationship with Eustace was the perfect picture of humility, unselfishness, and brotherly love. But the thing that struck me most was his passion. His eagerness, always being as close to the front of the ship as possible, was inspiring. He had a great passion for Aslan. Even to the point where no one was allowed to touch his tail because he valued it so much; not because it was personal but because he treasured it as a gift from Aslan himself (do I value you gifts that much from God?). But the most incredible part was his desire to see Aslan’s country. That was his focus the entire movie. I was convicted on how tied down I am to this world and not adequately preparing for the next and greater world. I dunno, just a thought :)

  • http://imogenelove.co.cc/ Imogene Love

    While I know that if I made the movie, I wouldn’t have made some of the changes they did, I still felt the core of the story remained. I didn’t really see that the dragon created a heroic change in Eustace, even in the film I saw that it humbled him. But I can see how they didn’t really stress that enough. The film was shorter than I expected, but it hit most of the highlights of the book. All in all, I think it isn’t always fair to compare books and films, because often the stories have to be told so differently for the varying mediums. It was different, yes, but as a whole I wasn’t disappointed. Personally, I was pleased enough just that one of my favorite lines from the book was repeated almost word for word by Aslan in the film… “that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” I’ll keep recommending it myself, for the very least so that Dawn Treader does well enough in theatres for The Silver Chair is produced. That’s one of my favorites, too! :-)