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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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Matthew: Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. 
<p>Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that "many" tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important. </p><p>No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.</p> American Catholic Blog The most appealing invitation to embrace the religious life is the witness of our own lives, the spirit in which we react to our divine calling, the completeness of our dedication, the generosity and cheerfulness of our service to God, the love we have for one another, the apostolic zeal with which we witness to Christ’s love for the poorest of the poor.

 
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