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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Michael Apted
Cast:
Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Gary Sweet, Terry Norris, Bruce Spence
Writing Credits:
Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Michael Petroni, C.S. Lewis (novel)

Tagline:
Take the voyage. Live the adventure. Discover Narnia like you've never seen it before.

Synopsis:
Return to the magic and wonder of C. S. Lewis' epic world in this third installment of the beloved Chronicles of Narnia fantasy-adventure series. When Lucy and Edmund Pensive, along with their cousin Eustace, are swallowed into a painting and transported back to Narnia, they join King Caspian and a noble mouse named Reepicheep aboard the magnificent ship, The Dawn Treader. The courageous voyagers travel to mysterious islands, confront mystical creatures, and reunite with the Great Lion Aslan and a mission that will determine the fate of Narnia itself!

Box Office:
Budget
$155 million.
Opening Weekend
$24.005 million on 3555 screens.
Domestic Gross
$104.383 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Closed-captioned Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 4/8/2011

Bonus:
Disc One
• “Explore Goldwater Island” Featurette
• “Dragon Discovery”
• Trailer
• “King Caspian’s Guide to the Dawn Treader”
• “The Secret Islands: Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader”
• Four “Fox Movie Channel Presents” Featurettes
• “Explore Magician’s Island” Featurette
• “Dufflepud Discovery
• Audio Commentary with Director Michael Apted and Producer Mark Johnson
• “Explore the Dark Island” Featurette
• “White Witch Discovery”
• “Serpent Discovery”
• “Portal to Narnia: A Painting Comes to Life” Featurette
• “Good Vs. Evil: Battle on the Sea” Featurette
• “Explore Narrowhaven” Featurette
• “Minotaur Discovery”
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Epic Continues” Featurette
• “Explore Ramandu’s Island” Featurette
• Reepicheep Discovery
• Aslan Discovery
• Liliandil Discovery

Disc Two:
• DVD Copy
Disc Three
• Digital Copy


• 10 Collectible Postcards


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 14, 2011)

When The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe became a smash at the end of 2005, it looked like the franchise would enjoy a long, successful run. When The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian came to screens in the late spring of 2008, that dream essentially died. With a budget of $180 million, Witch delivered $291 million in the US and nearly $800 million worldwide – cha-ching!

Then Caspian cost $225 million but only pulled in $141 million US and $419 million around the planet – wahwah! Perhaps I should put a quote around “only”, as those numbers are still good. However, given the film’s high expectations – and high costs, it was a big box office disappointment.

A disappointment that appeared to kill the franchise, in fact. After Caspian sputtered, Disney bailed as distributor, so the series went to Fox – with reduced expectations across the board. The budget for 2010’s Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader dropped to a “mere” $155 million; that’s still a ton of money, of course, but almost one-third less than the $225 million of Caspian. Box office returns continued to decline, as Treader brought in $104 million US and $407 worldwide. Disappointing? To some degree, but given the perception of failure that surrounded Caspian, the fact that Treader brought in similar worldwide numbers seemed encouraging.

Where this goes remains to be seen; more Narnia will follow, though apparently not until 2014 or so. I’ll look forward to that work more than expected, as I thought Treader rebounded pretty well after the forgettable Caspian.

Set during World War II, Edward (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) find themselves stuck with relatives in England while their older siblings – and fellow adventurers – live in America. They’re forced to co-exist with cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter), a snide kid who mocks their stories of visits to the magical realm of Narnia.

Eustace doesn’t believe that Narnia exists, which puts him in an odd spot when he and his cousins end up smack dab in that domain. The trio end up aboard a boat called the Dawn Voyager. Captained by their old pal King Caspian (Ben Barnes), they go along on a trek to find the seven lords of Telmar, missing supporters of Caspian’s father. This leads them to a variety of locales and plenty of adventures.

More than its predecessors, Voyage lacks a clear narrative. Sure, the quest for the lost lords sounds like a pretty specific arc, but in truth, it becomes episodic. Essentially we follow the participants as they bop from place to place and go through different adventures; the overall theme carries these activities but doesn’t add much, as the movie would’ve worked just as well without it.

This puts a greater emphasis on characters, especially after the bland Caspian. That one focused heavily on plot but left its characters without as much life. Since the main story didn’t prosper, the absence of character depth made the film dull and shallow.

Strong narrative or not, at least Voyage comes with some fun scenarios and interesting characters. The two Pevensies aren’t the focus as much as they were back in Wardrobe, but they get a better showing here than in Caspian. The movie affords them some interesting moments and decent development.

However, Eustace becomes the true star of the show – and the participant who makes the greatest journey. I don’t want to spill his arc too much, but suffice it to say that Eustace at the end differs greatly from Eustace at the beginning. The film takes him an a real path and does so in a reasonably natural way. Eustace doesn’t magically change; he develops as a matter of logical course, so we buy his story and embrace it.

Not everything shines here. The film’s effects tend to be a bit dodgy, and the episodic nature of the movie means that it comes with bigger than preferred peaks and valleys; some sequences fizzle along the way.

But the fact that Voyage includes so many different settings and situations means we’re not stuck with the slow spots for too long. After Caspian - one extended slow spot – I’ll take it. Voyage delivers a mostly fun, enjoyable adventure flick.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Note that this does NOT represent the original theatrical aspect ratio. Director Michael Apted chose to alter the dimensions from 2.35:1 for home video to give the film a more intimate feel.

This doesn’t seem to crop anything from the original presentation; instead, it appears to open up the frame. The result looks fine, though I admit I’d still rather have the theatrical 2.35:1 ratio. If Apted thinks the movie works better 1.78:1, why not run it that way in the first place?

Aspect ratio issues aside, the image looked terrific. At all times, sharpness remained excellent. The image displayed terrific clarity and definition, without any signs of softness. Jaggies and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes also didn’t become evident. If any source flaws came along for the ride, I didn’t see them; this was a consistently clean flick.

Colors worked fine. The palette varied throughout the film; much of it went with warm golden tones, but other scenes favored a chillier look. Whatever choices appeared, the hues were clear and well-represented. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows provided good clarity and smoothness. I felt consistently pleased with this solid transfer.

In addition, the movie boasted a fine DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Given all the flick’s action sequences, it featured many chances to shine, and it used them well. With dragons and many other mythical elements, a lot of material flew around the room, and these components did so in a clear manner. Environmental information added a good sense of place to the mix as well, but the action scenes were the best, as they filled out the spectrum with lots of dynamic details.

Audio quality was always good. Music seemed vivid and lively, and effects showed similar traits; those elements provided clean reproduction of the material and featured some deep bass when appropriate. Speech sounded distinctive and concise; no edginess or other issues occurred. I liked this strong soundtrack.

The package includes a fairly broad roster of extras. These come under a mix of story location-themed areas, so we’ll open with Goldwater Island. Explore Goldwater Island simply offers a 50-second clip that tells us a smidgen about the fictional piece of land. I thought it might lead into an interactive feature, but nope – once it ends, that’s that! Skip it.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get Dragon Discovery, another short featurette. This one goes for 56 seconds and tells us a little about dragons. It’s more interesting than the dull “Island”, but not by much.

With that, we head to Dawn Treader. In this area, we begin with King Caspian’s Guide to the Dawn Treader. It delivers a compilation of five brief clips; viewed together via “Play All”, they go for a total of four minutes, 13 seconds. Across these, we see specifics of the movie’s main ship and learn more about it. “Guide” doesn’t become much more detailed than the bits we saw back in “Goldwater Island”, but it’s a decent primer.

The Secret Islands: Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader runs seven minutes, 20 seconds. Narrated by King Caspian, it takes the form of a letter from that monarch to his old pal Peter Pevensie. This uses a lot of illustrations from the book series and helps flesh out characters/story nicely.

“Dawn Treader” finishes with four Fox Movie Channel Presents featurettes. We find “In Character with Liam Neeson” (5:06), “In Character with Georgie Henley and Will Poulter” (5:20), “Direct Effect” (6:27) and “Making a Scene” (9:11). Across these, we hear from Apted, Johnson, VFX supervisor Jonathan Fawkner, and actors Liam Neeson, Georgie Henley, and Will Poulter.

These look at cast, characters and performances, Apted’s work on the set, and the creation of the “through the painting” sequence. These featurettes tend to be superficial and promotional, but they include a decent amount of information, so they’re better than expected.

Next we shift to Magician’s Island. Following in line with two earlier pieces, we find Explore Magician’s Island (0:42) and Dufflepud Discovery (1:01). These clips are still pretty superficial and not particularly interesting.

Something more substantial completes this location: an audio commentary from director Michael Apted and producer Mark Johnson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/adaptation issues, cast, characters and performances, sets, locations and visual design, continuing the series, visual design, the altered aspect ratio, rehearsals and training, shooting a film set at sea and the use of various visual effects, stunts, and a few other areas.

Veterans of other commentaries, both Johnson and Apted seem comfortable with the format and that shows during their chat. They cover the expected subjects and do so in a compelling manner. We get a strong examination of the film’s creation and enjoy ourselves along the way.

Don’t look now, but some familiar brands open The Dark Island. We locate Explore the Dark Island (0:57), “White Witch Discovery” (0:36) and “Serpent Discovery” (0:42). These are more of the same, so don’t expect them to impress.

Portal to Narnia: A Painting Comes to Life lasts seven minutes, 22 seconds and provides notes from Apted, Johnson, Poulter, Henley, production designer Barry Robison, visual effects supervisor Adam Valdez, and actor Skandar Keynes. “Portal” investigates the scene in which the kids enter Narnia. An earlier “Fox Movie Channel” piece touched on the same topic, but only a little redundant material appears here, so we get some nice notes during “Portal”.

Lastly, Good Vs. Evil: Battle on the Sea goes for 10 minutes, 55 seconds and features Johnson, Apted, Robison, Keynes, Henley, Valdez, Poulter, special makeup effects creator Howard Berger, stunt coordinator Alan Toppleton, 2nd unit director John Mahaffie, executive producer Douglas Gresham, special effects supervisor Brian Cox, director of photography Dante Spinotti, and actor Ben Barnes. This show looks at the creation of the titular boat and its integration into the film as well as some other visual effects. We find a lot of nice behind the scenes material in this tight little show.

For the next domain, we move to Lone Islands and the inevitable: Explore Narrowhaven (0:42) and Minotaur Discovery (0:51). I have nothing new to say about these.

Of more interest are four Deleted Scenes. With a total running time of four minutes, 27 seconds, we find “The Kids in Narnian Clothes” (0:31), “Eustace Is Ill” (0:41), “Mutiny” (2:20) and “Caspian ‘Doubt’” (0:55). Three of the four offer little tidbits without much to add, but “Mutiny” – which follows a minor insurrection on the Dawn Treader – gives us something interesting. Though I don’t know if it would’ve worked in the final film, it’s intriguing to see.

We wind up this area with The Epic Continues. In this two-minute, 15-second piece, we find info from Henley, Barnes, Johnson, Apted, Poulter, and producer Andrew Adamson. This is just a glorified trailer, so don’t expect anything other than promotion.

For the final domain, we shift to Ramandu’s Island. This means the final time I need to mention pieces like Explore Ramandu’s Island (0:59), Reepicheep Discovery (1:10), Aslan Discovery (1:02) and Liliandil Discovery (0:52). I’m happy we can all finally move on with our lives.

Search for the Seven Swords Match Game delivers what it implies: a memory game that requires you to remember colored icons and find the correct swords. This is a mild challenge that loses some points due to a glitch; occasionally it’ll ask you to find a color that it doesn’t include on a sword!

Finally, we locate a VFX Progression. Accompanied by optional commentary from Apted and Johnson, this 13-minute reel lets us see some effects at various stages and watch how they built up as they went. These kinds of presentations are always interesting; Apted and Johnson add useful remarks to help flesh out the show.

Disc One opens with ads for Rio and Marley and Me: The Puppy Years.

Disc Two gives us a DVD Copy of the film, while Disc Three throws in a Digital Copy of Voyage. Note that the DVD is a barebones release and not the same disc available separately.

The set also includes some paper materials. We get 10 Collectible Postcards. These become a nice little addition to the release.

While not a terrific movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader rebounds nicely after its lackluster predecessor. Though it fails to continually delight, it delivers enough magic and adventure to entertain. The Blu-ray provides excellent picture and audio as well as an inconsistent but generally good collection of supplements. Narnia fans will enjoy this fun film, and the Blu-ray represents it nicely.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main