(2010, directed by Michael Apted, PG)
After many delays following the disappointing returns for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the latest film in the Narnia series has been released. Will children enjoy it? Laura Fraine reports.
The third, and possibly last, film in the Narnia series is adapted from the C S Lewis book of the same name. As one of Lewis’s best-loved books, there are sure to be some gritted teeth from Narnia purists in the audience, but those who embraced the two earlier films, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, will find much to enjoy here.
With Peter and Susan otherwise engaged, Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are staying at the house of their hateful cousin Eustace, when a seascape painting opens up and engulfs all three in a huge wave. They surface to find themselves at sea and being rescued by the crew of the Dawn Treader, ship of their old friend Caspian.
So begins Lucy and Edmund’s final journey into Narnia, an Odyssean quest to find seven lost lords and Aslan’s land at the end of the world. The linear plot has been rearranged and sometimes reinterpreted, although for my money that is not always a bad thing. But where the book’s characters seemed to be engaged in adventure for adventure’s sake, the film puts their lives in mortal danger until they complete their mission. Perhaps this is a sign of the times: modern children can’t imagine exerting such energy without prizes and punishment, or at least so Hollywood producers imagine.
Visually, the film is stunning. The 3D effects add little but CGI Reepicheep, voiced by Simon Pegg, and Aslan, voiced by Liam Neeson, are as lifelike as the rest of the cast and more enchanting. Skandar Keynes as Edmund and Georgie Henley as Lucy veer from the book with characters on the cusp of adulthood, but this proves a satisfying extra dimension – lots of girls will find Henley’s Lucy (who fights her own battles) an even more attractive heroine than Lewis’s. Will Poulter makes a brilliantly irritating Eustace, although he would have benefited more from the witty narrative of the book.
And this is what is missing really: that wonderful narrative voice which imparts the Narnia stories with such warmth, humour and kindly wisdom as to make them feel special and important to children. The film is great fun. Despite many plot changes it feels true to the Christian allegory, spirit and adventure of the book. I just can’t imagine it being handed down through the generations.
Laura Fraine is a freelance journalist based in the North East.