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.