Liliandil (Laura Brent, in white) explains to Lucy (Georgie Henley, left), Caspian (Ben Barnes) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) how they can defeat the evil forces that have overrun Narnia.
There are dragons, sea monsters and a pool that turns everything to gold in the magical world of Narnia. It's so like Hollywood! But we digress.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third instalment in the fantasy series, and this time the adventure is at sea.
Edmund and Lucy, the youngest Pevensie children, are staying with their cynical cousin Eustace when Narnia beckons. The three children -- Eustace very much against his will -- are swept into the ocean via a painting in the spare bedroom; in a scene that will delight young viewers, water pours out of a picture of a ship at sea and fills up the bedroom, and the young heroes are soon being pulled from the water by Prince Caspian and his crew.
On board the Dawn Treader, Eustace (Will Poulter) is stunned to discover that Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are royalty, that a mouse named Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg) can speak and that a talking minotaur is a regular member of the ship's crew.
They all go off to find seven lost lords of Narnia, with a first stop at the Lone Islands. They battle slave traders and watch innocent locals get swallowed up by a menacing green mist (so much to do, so little time!). The Dawn Treader sails to other islands, encountering invisible Dufflepuds, magic spells, dragons and sea monsters, all the while the children are being tested.
Lucy struggles with vanity, discovering a spell that transforms her into a beauty like her older sister. Eustace is greedy when he finds a trove of gold and treasure. Edmund is also greedy and he argues with Prince Caspian out of vanity. Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) shows up long enough to warn everyone to resist his own darkest impulses; we couldn't say exactly what personal demons Edmund is fighting, but that's a mighty phallic sea serpent his imagination conjures up.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is in 3D. This is often a distraction, but this film is so engaging that it's easy to forget the pesky little spectacles stuck to your face.
Although the Narnia movies attract fans of all ages, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader seems to be a movie mostly for children. It's briskly paced without being frantic and has plenty to spark the imagination. The Narnia books are full of Christian symbols, and at the end of this film Aslan tells Lucy she must know Him by His other name in the real world, hint hint. Those who object to any hint of proselytizing at the movies should know that it's subtle enough that you could miss it entirely, if you so desire.
Sequels rarely outdo the original movie, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader is no exception. Still, it's a swashbuckling adventure story that kids will love, so what's not to like?