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In 2005, Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures made box office magic with director Andrew Adamson’s feature film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. It’s success prompted them to team up again for the next in the series, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:PRINCE CASPIAN in 2008. With the new film, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, several changes have happened with the team behind the scenes . Walden has now teamed up with 20th Century Fox while Michael Apted (COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER) has replaced Adamson as the director. Fortunately for the series fans the changes have not affected the quality of this entry in the fantasy film franchise.

At the film’s start we meet up again with the two youngest of the Pevensie children. Lucy and Edmund are staying with relatives in England while World War II rages (Edmund attempts to enlist) as Susan and Peter go to America. The two Britain based kids are in constant conflict with their obnoxious, selfish cousin Eustace. During a big argument, he pulls a painting from the wall of a ship sailing the ocean waves. Suddenly, water gushes from the picture and engulfs the room. The children swim toward the sunlight and pop up out of the sea in front on the massive ship, the Dawn Treader. On board the Pevensie children are reunited with Prince Caspian and the sword-wielding rodent, Reepicheep. The mouse soon catches Eustace stealing rations and gives the boy a fencing lesson. Caspian and his crew are on a quest to find the lost lords of Narnia. Soon the ship stops at the Lone Islands where they encounter slave traders and a mysterious green mist. Continuing, the Treader crew search for the seven swords of the lost lords and have many adventures along the way.

Like the previous two films, the special effects are state of the art. Reepicheep (last voiced by Eddie Izzard now by Simon Pegg) and Aslan interact seamlessly with their human costars. The mer-peoples that glide along the ship and the green mist that forms faces are very impressive. Of course, I have to mention two marvelous monsters: a gigantic sea serpent that almost crushes the Treader and a winged fire-breathing dragon(who is secretly a transformed human). Some fans may be a bit disappointed that Peter and Susan are relegated to brief cameos, but the funny, spirited performance of Will Poulter as bratty cousin Eustace should delight them. The film is playing at select theatres in 3D, but after seeing some early scenes in regular 2D I can say that the extra dimension is not essential to the story. The film’s a bit long at nearly two hours, but there’s enough adventures and creatures to keep the little tykes interested. I had hoped to be a bit more engaged by the main human characters. We get to see Edmund and Lucy maturing(she envies her older sister), but Caspian seems to be a Sindbad type sea hero in the installment. If you are a fan of the first two Narnia films and enjoy the C.S. Lewis books then you should enjoy this new movie visit to that world of fantasy and adventure.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.

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