While the “Chronicles of Narnia” series was great fun at a superficial level, there has never accused of having a large emotional depth. They tease you with visions of great battles fought for great causes, but rarely deliver. You know that these children will never get hurt, let alone die, while none of the films have any real drama that permeates the “Harry Potter” movies.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Tread” apparently brings this series to a close up, but I do not think that was his stated intention. Saved by a vibrant ending a battle with a hideous sea monster (think “out the Kraken” this year, “Clash of the Titans”), limping the rest of the movie and a nice harmless way.
Given the listless performances by the two principal characters, Georgie Henley and Skander Keynes as Lucy and Edmund, it is a minor miracle that the three “Narnia” films have generated the box office receipts that they have. While we are obviously supposed to root for them, they generate little reason to do so other than the fact that they are too cute to die. Preteens like my grandchildren like these films although even they do not find them memorable.
And while I am speaking of my grandchildren, I want to thank my granddaughter, Calen (age 9), for giving me the greatest Christmas gift a movie loving grandfather could receive, namely that she went to see the God awful “Yogi Bear” without me! Such a thoughtful gesture has to be met with an appropriate gift this Christmas morning.
But I must say that the most recent “Narnia” film does have a few rewards, the principal one being a spunky performance by Will Poulter as Eustace, the Pevensie siblings’ cranky young cousin. Eustace is an aggravating nuisance that breathes some needed life into this film, particularly when he mutates into a dragon that helps save the day.
As young Mr. Poulter displayed in the wonderful Indy movie “Son of Rambow” (2007), he has some clever comic timing. One can only hope that he is the centerpiece of any future “Narnia” movies should the producers try to squeeze a few more dollars out of the American market.
Another bright spot in the film comes from Simon Pegg, who provides the voice for the witty, never say die mouse, Reepicheep. It is a telling comment about ”Narnia” that most of the meaningful emotional moments come from the interaction of a digitally created mouse and the dragon that he befriends.
Mr. Pegg is a very funny actor, be it only to use his voice as an actor here, or a wonderfully bitter parodies “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) and “Hot Fuzz” (2007). Thanks to him, Poulter young people and carry out the director Michael Apted ‘Narnia’ more or less together as if it limps to its inevitable conclusion Penvensie children return home. Regardless, just like the “Transformers” film, of course, is staggering on its feet last year, and I think that Hollywood would be good to let it rest in peace.