The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ll be the first to admit that, until the first movie appeared, I’d never heard of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series of books. However, that’s not to say that they weren’t wildly popular or successful because, obviously, they were. I’m guilty of judging on appearances and to me, the whole thing seemed like some cheap knockoff of the “Harry Potter” franchise (a series of books that I have read). There’s no validity in that statement and it’s my personal opinion, but that’s the great thing about having your own web site – you get to voice your opinion even if no one cares what it is. Having seen the first two films, I have to say that I did enjoy them. I appreciate all of the religious symbolism and the stories weren’t that bad (and my wife is somewhat taken with Prince Caspian). So with this third installment, I had high hopes. Were they dashed?

In a word…yes. As I mentioned, I was looking forward to this film, but having never read the books or really anything about the movie, I had no idea as to what to expect. As it turns out, this movie (and perhaps the rest if there are any more) focus on the two younger members of the original quartet. Susan (Anna Poppelwell) and Peter (William Moseley) are in all of one scene in this movie. So if you’re waiting for them to make a grand entrance somewhere throughout – watch the first two movies again because you don’t see them hardly at all. Nevertheless we find Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) staying with their know-it-all chatty cousin, Eustace (Will Poulter) when all of the sudden a painting floods the room and the trio are whisked off again to Narnia where Lucy and Edmund are royalty. They meet up with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) where their “mission” of sorts is to collect seven swords which belonged to a group of noble warriors. As with all of the Narnia movies, it’s the journey and not the destination that’s the real trip so we have to ask ourselves this: is it worth it to see their journey?

I realize that the “Narnia” movies aren’t made especially for me and that I’m not the target audience. Still, I was entertained by the first two and was expecting more from this one. I think the casting of Eustace really annoyed me and for all I know, that’s how he was supposed to be portrayed. He just rubbed me the wrong way. I also had a problem with some of the visual effects. For a movie with a budget exceeding $150 million dollars, some of these scenes look like they were done on a personal computer. The water is rendered poorly in the opening scenes, there’s a predominance of this green smoke throughout and the ever-so-familiar mouse seems to go on and on. Couple all of this with the absence of the older two children and it just wasn’t the same for me. The movie did fairly poorly in the United States, grossing only $100 million, but has more appeal in the worldwide market where it’s made over $400 million. I suppose they’ll keep making these films so long as they continue to make money, but I might pass on the remainder of the series.

Video: How does it look?

Unlike the first two films, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is presented in a 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer that looks downright awesome. I did note that some of the visual effects were poorly rendered and maybe it’s because the picture is so crystal clear that I was able to notice that. The level of detail is amazing, we see things that look so natural and lifelike, you feel like you could reach out and touch them. Colors are bold and vivid and contrast and black levels are right on the mark. I was expecting big things as to how this looked and thankfully this did deliver on that account.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is nothing to balk at, either. Like the visual presentation, I was expecting to get a very robust soundtrack and this did deliver. Be it the clashing of swords or the ambient surround effects, this film does provide enough atmosphere to really immerse you in the viewing experience. Dialogue is very clean and composed and while the front speakers handle a majority of the action, the LFE do chime in and make their presence known as well. On a technical level, this film excels so it’s a testament to the uncompressed soundtrack on this Blu-ray disc.

Supplements: What are the extras?

When it comes to supplements this offering has a lot of bullet points, but little substance to them. I will note that this franchise has now switched from Disney (who handled the first two releases in theaters as well as the subsequent Blu-ray and DVD releases) to Fox. Fox usually does a nice job with their offerings and no doubt this will be a hot seller, no matter what my personal comments on the film are. We’re presented with a map of sorts that has seven islands, clicking on each island will give you a variety of features. I’ll touch on the major offerings as some of the “features” are simply “How to copy a digital movie to your PC.” We get “The Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader”, an animated short that gives us a bit more insight into the ship (the Dawn Treader) and the cast. We also get a spot on director’s commentary by Michael Apted and producer Mark Johnson as they give us the skinny on the film, the franchise and of course, the novels. There are a quartet of deleted scenes some “Island Explorations” and some behind the scenes featurettes that give us some footage of the cast and crew, the visual effects used in the film. For the uninitiated, we also get “Narnian Discoveries” which introduces us to the friends and foes in the land of Narnia. There’s a “Battle on the Sea Sword Game” as well as some Fox Movie Channel featurettes on the film. The second disc is a standard DVD of the film with a lot less (though no different) features and the third disc is a digital copy of the film for your mobile device or computer.

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