I didn’t particularly care for the first live-action Chronicles of Narnia movie that was made a few years ago. It wasn’t exactly a bad movie, and I liked some of the casting choices a lot (though I don’t know if I’ll ever get over shirtless James McAvoy as the faun Tumnus; I have a big ol’ crush on the McAvoy and Mr. Tumnus is not supposed a sexy character, y’all. I can’t emphasize this enough.) Mostly, though, the movie didn’t do very much for me, because, to me, C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is basically a perfect book. Not that it’s necessarily one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it’s a story that lives pretty vividly in my memory and I didn’t really need to see a different version of it. When the sequel, Prince Caspian, came out, I didn’t ever get around to seeing it.

The third movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is out this month, and I decided to go ahead and see it. I don’t remember all that much about that book, but what I did remember (crazy voyages on the high seas!) seemed like it would adapt pretty well to the screen. Plus, though I’d heard that the film took a lot of liberties with the plot, that really wasn’t going to bother me.

So I went to see it today, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if this is really an objective statement of quality (I suspect, objectively, the movie is on the corny and cliched side, the pacing is choppy, and a good deal of what happens doesn’t make a whole lot of sense). Still, this turned out to be exactly what I wanted to see at this moment. It’s a beautiful movie, with all that water and sunshine and a very impressive looking ship in the Dawn Treader. Mostly, though, it’s the kind of quest narrative that I am a sucker for when it hits the right notes. Edmund and Lucy and Eustace and Caspian all need something, are all looking for something, even if they can’t define what it is or if they don’t particularly want to be on the journey. Also, having just spent the weekend with my parents and siblings, I have to be a sucker for a story where sibling relationships (Lucy with Edmund, but also Lucy with the absent Susan, and Edmund with his surrogate brother Caspian, and Eustace who is technically a cousin but actually wants to be a brother, though it takes quite a bit to get him to admit it) form the emotional engine of the story. The movie also passes the Bechdel test, giving Lucy several nice scenes with a young girl who looks up to her the way Lucy is used to looking up to Susan.

Incidentally, it’s kind of jaw-dropping how much Georgie Henley (Lucy) has grown up to look like Anna Popplewell (Susan). This casting lends a real poignancy to Lucy’s desire to be beautiful like her sister. It’s clear to the audience that the sisters look very much alike, so the desire to resemble Susan is something in Lucy’s mind more than a commentary on female vanity (one of the not-so-nice aspects of the novels).

Anyway, I really (and very subjectively) liked the movie; it brought me to tears a couple times. I wish I could have seen it in a double feature with Julie Taymor’s Tempest but it looks like that won’t be opening here for a while. So I ended up coming home to watch the second half of The Two Towers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the orcs are about to storm Helm’s Deep, and this requires my undivided attention.

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