Why I Enjoyed Prince Caspian More Than Dawn Treader

(Blog Credit: Ember)

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader

This week all of us here at ListenUpReviews attended a showing of The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. Going in, we knew that there was going to be a big new plot thread invented by the movie’s creators, but we didn’t quite know its extent.

Well, we found out.

Before I continue, I do want to make a point to note that yes, there were some things that this movie did very well, both in visuals and (at times) adaptation. Indeed, the actual Dawn Treader ship herself was a work of art, and every shot of it— inside and out— was simply gorgeous. Likewise, the Sea Serpent was pretty awesome (as well as being a heck of a lot more frightening onscreen than what I had originally imagined ). On the adaptation front, Reepicheep was brilliant as always; Eustace was quite well-cast and well-acted in his own right; how the children entered Narnia was not done exactly like it was in the book, but (if possible) turned out even better; and (okay, minus Caspian being onshore at World’s End, but we’ll give them that one ) the last few minutes of the film were darn near perfection.

So, what was the problem then, you ask? …Well, unfortunately, most of what occurred in between!

You see, the filmmakers thought that there was no good, strong, connecting storyline running through the narrative (which actually just about anyone who has read the book can easily refute— but unfortunately that argument is irrelevant at this point, as they made their decision, no matter how silly it was). So, they came up with the inspired idea to invent an evil green mist (!) which is threatening to corrupt all that is good in Narnia… along with the directive to our heroes to find the seven ‘magical’ swords which— once laid at Aslan’s Table— will ‘break the spell’ of the mist and put everything right! (And that, of course, is actually what the seven lost Telmarine lords were sent off to do years ago!) And then, for a minor little side-story to support this, a guy (and eventually his daughter, too) gets onboard to try and find his wife, who was taken by the mist as a living sacrifice…!


…Um, yeah.

Now, as I said, we did actually know about most of this invented plotline before watching the movie. The problem was that it basically turned out to be the main plotline, so it was impossible to get away from— every few minutes either the mist or another ‘magic’ sword would pop up and dampen the enjoyment of some classic book scene.

Here’s what I really found interesting, though: When I had watched Prince Caspian in the theater for the first time, there were only about 2 or 3 changes that bugged me enough to take me out of ‘enjoyment’ mode and into ‘critic’ mode, and even then I ‘recovered’ quickly— making me rather enthusiastic about the movie overall, even though I knew very well that it ended up being quite different from the book. In contrast— with the exception of the well-done items outlined earlier— there was very little time during Voyage when I wasn’t in ‘critic’ mode, with only a few short lapses into ‘enjoyment’.

One part of the reason for this was definitely because the changes in Dawn Treader were really lame and cliché compared to the brilliance of C.S. Lewis’ original material; and I think another part of the reason was that they were all so unnecessary in the first place. I mean, let’s face it— while PC certainly had its fair share of bad and unnecessary changes, some changes at least served some function, and a few of them actually ended up being not only good, but an improvement. VODT’s changes, however— except for just one, that being the toned-down undragoning of Eustace, which quite frankly could have been somewhat horrifying had it been done onscreen exactly as it had been done in the book— were all either bad or unnecessary and didn’t provide any improvements whatsoever.

Thus it was that Prince Caspian, despite having probably even more changes, surprisingly ended up being a far more enjoyable viewing experience for me than Dawn Treader did. And while, as mentioned earlier, there’s no denying that some things in Voyage were very well done (particularly its great beginning and really excellent end), there was much more that it left to be desired.

Is it really a coincidence that the most faithful adaptation so far (The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe) was also the best-selling? Let us hope that if and when they decide to adapt the next one, that thought not only crosses the minds of the filmmakers… but stays there.


Ember is the owner of several businesses and the main writer for ListenUpReviews.com. She lives in the American Midwest, and enjoys action sports, technology, science, reading, being a part of certain sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery fandoms (and just a geek in general! ), playing her violin, piano, and electric guitar, and most of all listening to great music (both recorded and live).


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ListenUpReviews says:


*snort* True, but probably the only reason they didn’t was because that would have cost a fortune in licensing…

In all seriousness, though, judging by the reactions from other reviewing outlets as well as from within our own group, it was certainly a more enjoyable experience for those who have not read the book versus those who have. Obviously, however, that in itself is the very problem. Had those needless plot inventions simply been left in the filmmakers’ imaginations rather than actually put onscreen, the movie would have been fully enjoyable to us all.


Steve says:

Great review as always, Ember… but the movie could’ve been worse.

The filmmakers might have left in all their BigSky ideas about The Dawn Treader shooting it out with The Black Pearl… the Sea Serpent could have been called a Kraken… Eustace could have brought along his best friend, Harry, from Hogwarts… and Aslan’s Table might have been located in Mordor!

Hmm… actually, that would’ve been pretty cool. But then again, I didn’t read the book :)