The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Movie
Happy New Year Again

A Few Dawn Treader Reviews

Please note that some of these will tell you more about the movie than you may want to hear if you haven't seen it, but plan to, and prefer, like me, to have as little prior knowledge as possible. Be careful of the comments on some of them, as they sometimes give away more details than the reviews do.

Steven Greydanus at the National Catholic Register. He likes it, and there are a few things in the review that go a long way toward explaining my difference of opinion. For instance, he liked the siege of Miraz's castle in Prince Caspian. I thought it was terrible. It shouldn't have been there in the first place, and in execution it was just another long special-effects battle scene full of unbelievable feats. These scenes are supposed to be exciting but they just bore me. I'll mention one thing that serves as an emblem of all that's wrong with these movies, something that should never even have occurred to a screenwriter: Lucy using her martial arts skills against the Calormene slave traders.

David Downing at Ignatius Insight. He shares some of my reservations but comes down more favorably than I did.

Here's a secular reviewer at Film Journal. I include it just as an indicator of the way critics with no apparent interest in the book viewed it. And here's Roger Ebert, seeming to be pretty bored with it while giving it a basically positive review. His synopsis has some things seriously out of place, which makes me wonder if he was really paying attention.

It appears that one's reaction is likely to be heavily influenced by whether or not one likes the Big Loud Fast Movie, full of special effects. For me, such movies can be enjoyable as lightweight entertainment, but I can't take them seriously. They don't make me feel anything deeper than passing excitement that fades as soon as the movie ends, or leave me thinking about anything substantial. And when they try to do something serious, it just doesn't work--it's like a troupe of jugglers and acrobats performing Macbeth



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Millinerd was surprisingly positive.

I doubt that I'm going to manage to see it before it issues on DVD. I expect that my impressions will be fairly close to yours.

Images from the movies colonize children's imaginations, so that if and when the read the books or hear them read aloud, the movies are evoked; or so I fear.

I would consider it a great shame for a child to see the movies without having read or heard them first. A tragedy, even. I don't regret seeing DT--my wife and I don't go to movies very often, and it was an enjoyable evening. It's not that it's such a bad movie, it's just not Lewis. And it's not going to replace Lewis in my mind. But for a child to see the movie(s) first is a different matter altogether. I feel the same about the Lord of the Rings movies.

I can't comprehend Millinerd's view at all.

I've read some reviews in the past few weeks and the very things that the reviewers seemed to love in the movie are the exact things that would make me not like the movie. More than that, their reasons for liking the movie turned me irrevocably against it.

As I said, True Grit. ;-)

We also saw The King's Speech this afternoon and it was very entertaining. I have some questions about the story, and I could see man behind the curtain in a few scenes, but overall I enjoyed it. Of course, it's hard to accept the woman who killed Sirius Black as a sympathetic character.


And there was me thinking it was a bit of a casting blunder in the Harry Potter films for them to have Lady Tottington pretending to be a psychopathic witch ...

This is the next film that I won't want to miss:

Is this Rosemary Sutcliff, Paul?


Interesting to see where the Plasmatics got their look. I never would have guessed they were so learned about the ancient world.

I had a similar reaction about Bellatrix, except that I was thinking of Olivia in The Tempest.

Peter Hitchens had grave reservations about the F word being used in speech therapy in "The Kings Speech." For that reason, I don't think I'll go see it.

I really rather liked the movie of LWW, but Prince Caspian not so much. I agree that they got Susan totally wrong though.

I thought LWW was fairly good until about halfway through or so, maybe two-thirds, when it started to go all conventional cgi-battle.

It is, Janet (or at least, what scriptwriters have made of her).

Your final paragraph sums up how I feel about such movies, Mac. I'm not a big fan of action movies to begin with, and the ones that are all CGI really bug me. They make me feel like what I'm watching is simply a very complicated, detailed cartoon. Nothing wrong with cartoons, of course, but don't try to fool me into thinking a glorified animation is "live action."

I do like Big, Loud, Fast Movies when they don't take themselves too seriously. W/r/t that, I'd very highly recommend the recent movie RED, with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. It's an action movie with its tongue squarely in its cheek, and is the most fun I've had at the movies in a very long time.

I haven't even heard of that one but I'll check it out. Have you seen The Town? Craig (at All Manner of Thing) picked it as one of the year's best.

Btw I finally read & saw No Country For Old Men. Been trying to get to posting about them. I thought the book was excellent and the movie very good.

RED is loads of fun. You can tell that the actors were having a really great time making it.

I watched 'The Town' just this past weekend. It is very good; it's got a fair amount of action but I wouldn't describe it as an action movie. It's more along the lines of 'Heat' or something like that -- a crime drama with a fair number of action sequences. Very well acted and directed. Be prepared for the language though -- lots and lots of F-bombs.

Three other really good movies I've seen this year besides 'True Grit' and 'RED' are 'Get Low,' 'The Square,' and 'Winter's Bone.' The latter wasn't as good as the novel but is still very much worth seeing.

Funny, I don't remember the F-bombs in 'The Town'. Usually I'm sensitive to that sort of thing, but it didn't spoil the movie for me.

We saw True Grit a couple of nights after arriving in South Bend, and enjoyed it, though my presbyterian friend disapproved of the gospel background music accompanying a story of revenge.

Francesca, It seemed to me that the whole point of the gospel hymns was to contrast the vengeance in the story. I don't know if they mention in this movie that Mattie is a Presbyterian--a Cumberland Presbyterian (the people I work for).

AMDG, Janet

Janet, that is interesting and I will tell my friend. I didn't notice, of course, because I think vengeance is a great idea. Isn't it weird, we are in the same time zone!

Yes! You are right above me.

I want to say more about TG, but I have to work.


Rob, I haven't even heard of a single one of those movies you name other than True Grit.

I haven't heard of 'The Square' (recommended by Rob G), but both 'Get Low' and 'Winter's Bone' were beloved by critics. 'Get Low' (Robert Duvall) got a fair amount of notice in the Catholic press, on account of its religious themes, but I haven't had a chance to see it yet. I did see 'Winter's Bone' and, frankly, I don't see what the fuss is about. The whole thing seemed oddly inconsequential and that scene, in the canoe, was just too awful. The film also seemed to be playing on the worst cliches of rural folk as gap-toothed, inbred, drunken knuckle-draggers. I was not impressed.

I sure would like to see 'True Grit' though. There's an interview about it with the Coens and Matt Damon at the Charlie Rose Show (look under 'Movies').

There were a couple of foreign films I wanted to see this year, but, again, didn't manage it. One is 'Vision', a German film about Hildegard von Bingen, and another is 'Of Gods and Men', a French film about a group of Cistercians martyred in Algeria. Anyone seen them?

'The Square' is an Aussie thriller about two married people having an adulterous affair who plan to stage a a harmless "accident" then run off together with some stolen loot. As things tend to do in such films, everything goes horribly wrong. Nearest cinematic cousin is probably the Coens' first film, 'Blood Simple.' The direction, a feature debut by a young Aussie, is crackerjack suspenseful and the performances are just right.

As I wrote below (above?) I thought that the novel 'Winter's Bone' was better than the film, but I liked the movie fine. I thought the performances, esp. that of the main actress and the fellow who played her uncle, were very good. The author, Daniel Woodrell, lives in the Ozarks himself and knows the type of people that he writes about first hand. There's no Southern cliche dealing there. On the contrary, I think what you see in the girl's story is her attempt, however warped by her dismal surroundings and awful upbringing, to maintain both place and family, and some measure, however small and unfocused, of virtue and honor.

I admit that the canoe scene was difficult to watch, but I think the point of it was to portray just how much she was willing to do, short of the illegal or immoral (you'll note her refusal to get involved in the meth business), to keep her house and family intact. It may not have been a very nice place, but it was their place.

A Simple Plan is a devastating entry in this one-bad-thing-leads-to-another sort of film. I've never seen Blood Simple. I should.

Get Low sounds intriguing. I'm not so sure about Winter's Bone, weighing your two reactions against each other. There's sometimes a fine line between portraying southern/rural folk accurately and falling over into caricature.

There was a funny commercial for a southerner-oriented cable network here a few years ago (TurnerSouth or something?). A mean-looking guy sitting on the porch of a shabby house, wearing overalls without a shirt, whittling or something with a large knife. A young well-dressed couple pulls up in a car. They get out and timidly ask for directions. The guy doesn't speak, glares scarily at them and stabs the knife into the porch rail, the couple jump back, then the guy pulls an iPhone (or something) out of his overalls and shows them a map.

I can't figure out where to click to make that Charlie Rose interview work. I guess I'll read the transcript.


'Blood Simple' is very good, but it's more ambiguous morally speaking than either 'Simple Plan' or 'The Square.'

Re: 'Winter's Bone,' I'd recommend reading the novel first (it's fairly short--about 200 pages, if memory serves) then seeing the movie if you liked the book. Having said that, I have one friend who didn't like the book but loved the movie, and another who loved the movie but hadn't read the book.

Here's the review of the book from Chronicles that first put me onto it a few years back:

I saw Of Gods and Men just before I left Aberdeen, in mid December. It is a great film. I recommended it to a friend and he said he found it 'stunning'.

Sorry, that is not much of a review. When I say a great film, I mean one is still living in it a week or more later.

Well, now I have some things on my Netflix queue.


I've never been to the Ozarks, so I guess I can't really say how faithful the film's portrayal is, but it seemed like a caricature to me -- a caricature totally devoid of humour. I agree that the young actress does a wonderful job; very understated and believable. But I persist in thinking that the grotesque climax was gratuitous. For me the film 'jumped the shark' at that point.

Having said that, the film is racking up critical acclaim. Maybe it just rubbed me the wrong way.

I am glad to hear that 'Of Gods and Men' was good, Francesca. Once it is available on DVD I am definitely going to track it down.

Janet, the interview is here. To start it, just click on the picture of Matt Damon.

I clicked all over that guy last night. I guess my computer just didn't like it. I'm thinking, though, about calling Charlie Rose and offering my services as a transcriber. The one he has now doesn't do a great job.


I didn't recognize the name Of Gods and Men, but having finally clicked on Rob's link I recognize the description as something I've heard praised before, can't remember where. Sounds like definitely one to see.

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