VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes

Green mist, blue stars, dissolving slaves, and stow-away little girls! Seven magic swords that must be laid together on Aslan’s table to defeat evil and bring peace to all men! Where have I heard this story before?

Not in anything C.S. Lewis wrote, that’s for sure.

I hate to do this to you, because I know you’ve been waiting for this movie as long as I have, that is, since Prince Caspian. However, they say that  all good things must come to an end,  and in this case, I think we need to write finis over the Chronicles of Narnia, at least so far as making movies goes.

Or, if these  people feel that they must bring us Silver Chair, let’s make  them to promise that they’ll read the book first.

In the much-better Prince Caspian, Caspian ousts his evil uncle Miraz the Usurper with the help of the Ancient Kings and Queens and, of course, Aslan, who Himself destroys the bad guys with a supernatural rising of the River. Those who repent are saved; the unrepentant are destroyed.

Years before,  Miraz had exiled Caspian’s father’s seven friends to the East. Now that Caspian is king and the land is settled in peace, he must go find them, alive if possible.  The book takes us from one find or rescue to the next without any logical progression. The next thing just happens.  Because of the lack of linkage, making the movie was bound to be tricky. Something had to be added to make these disparate adventures cohere.

They chose a green fog. Reminiscent of the Death Angel in Ten Commandments, it floats along the ground and corrupts people. Scares people.  Tempts people to evil.   It even dissolves people who are sacrificed to it, and therein lies Caspian’s Quest. He must seek the source of the Green Mist and destroy it by gathering the 7 magic swords of the 7 missing lords and laying them on Aslan’s table. When the Power  of the Swords is thus assembled, evil will be vanquished, the lost  captives  will be found, and Caspian can go on to the Utter East with Reepicheep, Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace.

But wait, you say. Caspian doesn’t go to the Utter East with them.  He returns to Ramandu’s Island so he can kiss the girl and then take her back to Narnia. Yes, yes, that’s what happens in the book. You must leave what you know about the book behind when you come to the movie. Otherwise you will be irritated by all the things they made up and stuffed in here.

Not only do lots of things happen that don’t happen in the book, many of your favorite parts are left out, including (importantly for Christians who enjoy the Christ-allegory of this series) the important spiritual points, such as the sovereignty of God in salvation (tearing off the sin nature). Here, we learn only that you should love what you have, not seek for what you do not have, and be your own best self.

Here is a sampling of things that don’t happen in the movie. (These are just off the top of my head; I haven’t read the book in two or three years, so I am probably missing some.)

Trumpkin is not mentioned as having been left as Regent. Governor Gumpas does not rule the Lone Islands. In fact, Governor Gumpas  is not in the movie at all. The Lord Bern does not rescue Caspian from slavery, nor is he made Governor. The Lord Drinian does not signal to the “rest of the fleet.”  Eustace does not fling Reepicheep around by his tail. Master Rhince is not an original member of the crew, and Lucy is not the only girl on board. Eustace does not find himself in a dragon’s cave with “another” dragon whose movements and breath terrify him. Eustace does not tear off layers of skin. Aslan does not tear off Eustace’s dragon skin, but twirls him around in the air while his body transforms (think Beauty and the Beast here). The Lord Octesian’s ring does not tear into Eustace’s flesh. The Dark Island is not dark. Men do not experience their dreams. Lucy does not go to the fighting top to call on Aslan.  Aslan does not speak to her in the form of the albatross. No shoe-tips turn gold.  The Duffelpuds do not “yessir” their Chief. Reepicheep does not show them how to sail. Lucy does not say a charm to make her more beautiful than the lot of mortals, but only wants to be as pretty as Susan (an odd thing, since Lucy knows what she will look like when she grows up, having already been grown up). The Lord Rhoop does not find rest at Aslan’s table because he is picked up later.  No one wants to stay on Ramandu’s Island. We do not go into the Darkness because Reepicheep says, “Let it never be said that men of Narnia failed to undertake an adventure because they were afraid of the dark,” but because Ramandu’s daughter told them they have to go. The Sea Serpent is not pushed off the Dawn Treader. Caspian does not send off the children and Reepicheep with tears. We do not turn and watch the Dawn Treader until we can’t see it any longer.  Caspian is not in love with Ramandu’s daughter, nor does she tell him, “In this world, you must win glory and honor first and then you can kiss the girl.” (Sorry, I don’t have the wording right on that). Caspian’s crew does not attempt to talk him out of traveling to the World’s End, but apparently just lets him go. Aslan does not appear to Caspian in his cabin, but actually gives him an opportunity of leaving Narnia forever.

The end is not emotionally charged like the ends of the other two movies. I think Edmund and Lucy are too old, and Georgie Henley has not yet learned to deliver a convincing line.  Eustace is unbearable as he should be. Caspian seems to have lost his faux-Spanish accent.

Edmund’s flashlight  battery is still good. They  must have made super long-life batteries during the War years.

Also, strangely, the War is still on in London, but Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie and Peter and Susan have all gone to America on (presumably) the lecture tour.  It’s odd that Peter and Mr. Pevensie can be spared from the War effort at this critical juncture when there are long lines at the enlistment office.  In fact, Edmund and Lucy have gone to the Scrubbs’ house because of the War. This is all very mixed-up. (In the book, they are only there for the summer while the lecture tour is on.)

In a moment of hope-for-the-future, the moviemakers put this line at the end:

Mrs. Scrubb calling up the stairs: “Eustace, Jill Pole is here to see you!”

I think they will be disappointed if they think moviegoers will want to give them another chance with Eustace and Jill fighting off Bad Kids and throwing The Head out on her can.  I think that people who are not already fans of the Lewis books will not bother with this movie. And those (like me) who are fans (except for the ending of The Last Battle, which is blasphemous) will likely be annoyed by the stark, fundamental  differences between the book and the movie.

[Speaking of blasphemy, there was an advertisement just prior to our movie  for Left Behind: the Rise of AntiChrist, the videogame. I kid you not. Now you can play your way through Revelation with, seemingly, a magic guitar that wards of evil spirits. ]