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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Aslan and his charges are forces of good in C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."
"We have nothing if not belief," says a character in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (Fox).

And, indeed, with its youthful protagonists confronting forces of darkness both within themselves and around them, this screen version of the third in C.S. Lewis' classic series of Christian-themed allegorical novels—a mix of live action and animation—keeps the need for faith front and center.

A murky backstory and slightly sketchy plot, though, make director Michael Apted's addition to the franchise—which began with 2005's "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and continued with "Prince Caspian" in 2008—somewhat less impressive dramatically than thematically.

The opening scenes, set in World War II-era Britain, find brother and sister Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley)—two of the four original human visitors to Narnia—lodging with relatives, including their obnoxious, cynical cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter).

Resentful at having to share his room with Edmund, Eustace, as the facts-only embodiment of modern rationalism, also sneers at his cousins' tales of travel to a magical kingdom. So it comes as a surprise when a seascape painting hanging on the wall suddenly floods the boys' bedroom, and the tide carries all three children off to Narnia's Eastern Sea.

Saved from drowning by their old friend, Caspian (Ben Barnes), now the king of Narnia, the siblings are delighted to be reunited with him aboard the "Dawn Treader," pride of the kingdom's fleet. They've arrived at an opportune time, since Caspian is in the midst of a quest to vanquish a menacing manifestation of evil that takes the form of a green mist capable of making its victims disappear.

It's here that the exposition in Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni's script begins to feel a little burdensome. Suffice it to say that the siblings—and, more reluctantly, their traveling companion—agree to join Caspian on his mission.

This eventually requires them to bring together at the table of the noble lion Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson)—Narnia's spiritual lord whose redeeming death and resurrection are recounted in Lewis' first volume and in the first film—seven magical swords empowered to protect the land from harm.

During the adventures that ensue, Edmund and Lucy battle temptations ranging from vanity and envy to ambition, greed and cowardice. Meanwhile, helped along by the wisdom of one of Caspian's sidekicks, plucky warrior mouse Reepicheep (voice of Simon Pegg), Eustace endures an unwelcome physical transformation which ultimately leads him down the path toward a far more positive spiritual conversion.

Richly cargoed with Gospel-based moral lessons and Christian overtones, this swashbuckling sequel, despite its occasionally rocky progress through the waves, bears viewers on an enjoyable, and mostly kid-friendly, voyage.

The film contains considerable peril and bloodless violence and a couple of mild bathroom jokes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Philip and James: 
		<b>James, Son of Alphaeus:</b> We know nothing of this man except his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater. 
<p><b>Philip:</b> Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45). </p><p>Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, “[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do” (John 6:6). Philip answered, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7). </p><p>John’s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity’s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God’s gift. </p><p>On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, “I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9a). </p><p>Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus’ reply in John’s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his “hour” has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.</p> American Catholic Blog Only in human weakness do many of us begin to rely on God and explicitly repudiate our own divine ambitions. Every pain alerts us to the fact that we are not the Almighty.

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