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Narnia Movies

The first trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was released not too long ago, and I’m actually surprised that it looks as good as it does.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf9Xl84b9Wo&w=640&h=385]

The story on the Narnia movies was that the second movie had a bigger budget and a smaller box office, so Disney punted the franchise over to Fox, who slashed the budget for the third film. Fortunately, the two-minute trailer doesn’t look cheap, and this entry looks to be consistent with the first two films.

I wish I were more excited about it than I am.

The fact is that the Narnia books are a very mixed bag. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first in the series, the best of the series, and the centerpiece of the entire Christian allegory. Many of the other books feel like afterthoughts. The Magician’s Nephew is marvelous with its quirky focus on the creation, and The Last Battle is a pretty groovy depiction of the last days.

The rest of the books, including Dawn Treader, are essentially filler.

People were concerned that Caspian made so much less than Wardrobe, but the cold, hard fact is that Prince Caspian is a far less interesting story.  It wasn’t the filmmakers’ fault, really – the movie was an improvement on the source material in many respects. In the book, the setup takes about half of the total time, the larger war is only hinted at, and the one-on-one battle between Peter and Miraz is a single-sentence throwaway.  It’s a slight, insignificant tale that would not have been able to sustain a film adaptation without the alterations that upset many Narnian purists. They made a valiant effort, but it still wasn’t enough to turn Caspian into a blockbuster.

As you may have noticed, I’m of the opinion that of all the Narnia books, Prince Caspian is the worst of the lot.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a much better book, but it’s essentially a collection of short stories with very little in the way of a central narrative.  You follow a bunch of folks going from island to island and having goofy adventures. The tone of the book is whimsical and light, with the exception of the terrifying story of Eustace’s transformation and redemption. My guess is it will prove to be a much more difficult adaptation than Caspian and probably a bigger box office failure.

I’ll go see it, though. I’m hoping they can get past the filler books and get into the good stuff. The next book, The Silver Chair, would make a much better movie than Dawn Treader or Caspian.

But if Dawn Treader flops, we’ll never get to see it.

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