Epic Analyses of the Dawn Treader: Part 2

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” 
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Welcome back, my darlings, to the Epic Analyses of the Dawn Treader. It's highly recommended that you read Part One so you're not entirely lost. And on a sea voyage like this one, that's not exactly a desirable state.

Think E.T., but here. No phones.

In this issue, we'll be addressing numerous nit-picky nonsenses, bravely sailing beyond the edge of the world to Aslan's country. We truly are the Columbuses (Caspians?) of our generation. But be warned, my good crew: here be monsters.

Part Two: The Merged Islands

So, we left the Dawn Treader sailing off at sunrise after introducing the unnecessary end boss. And now we rejoin her as she … sails on at sunrise. Huh. They really took the name 'Dawn Treader' seriously. Almost every time we see this ship, it's either the very beginning or very end of the day's light (it gets difficult to tell). How does that even work on an epic voyage?

Drinian: “Sire, we have a favourable wind!”
Caspian: “Never mind that! We must wait 'til our pretty purple sails look their best against a magnificent multi-coloured sky. Drop anchor!”
Drinian: “But...”
Caspian: “No buts! You signed up for the Dawn Treader, man. Pay attention!
Drinian (defeated): “Aye, m'lord.”

"Bring me that horizon."

Anyway, they arrive at the island of the Dufflepuds in the now-typical haze of pink and Lucy is abducted by those-who-shall-not-be-seen. Did I mention that there are spoilers here? Yeah, spoiler alert. She's picked up and bounced away in a surprisingly rape-y fashion, which is made all the more disturbing by the invisible hand (let's just presume it's a hand) that she claws at in a desperate attempt to warn her sleeping comrades of their imminent assault.

Luckily for the impromptu Narcoleptics Anonymous meeting snoozing on the beach, Lucy's kidnappers are content to circle around the defenceless little girl in a really bizarrely creepy manner. They laugh menacingly to each other and reveal they have need of a woman. And it's around this point that the parents in the audience start covering their children's eyes.

Please don't let this mean what I think it means.

Fortunately for our heroine, they actually only need her to lift the spell that made them invisible. Phew. The theatre unites as one entity to breathe a sigh of relief (except for that one dodgy guy in the back, but I can see half a sawn-off handcuff sinisterly peeping out from under his sleeve, so it's not likely that anyone's gonna bother him about his less than child-friendly sentiments unless they're also planning to take him into custody).

Lucy devotes a negligible amount of time to this important task, taking nowhere near long enough to fully impress the mood of the sinister house on the viewer, and also manages to spawn her own, almost entirely inexplicable sub-plot based around 'OMG Susan's so much prettier than me, frowny face!'. This is handled about as well as it sounds. I'm really starting to wonder how apt a choice Michael Apted really was for this movie.


We see poor old Coriakin used as a plot device for that damned smoke-and-swords quest for which some studio exec. was probably fired; and just like that, the heroes are leaving again. Presumably at dusk.

Shoe-horned in here is the conclusion to Lucy's little story arc, where, evidently under the influence of hefty hallucinogens, she turns into Susan and everyone tells her how pretty she is, at cost of both her own identity and the existence of Narnia. Because remember kids, one little girl's bad choices can cause genocide and destroy a whole world.

This makes perfect sense.

Luckily for our druggie friend, this is all the work of her magical weed spell and she wakes up to find that it was just the laziest of all cop-out endings – a dream. Aslan warns her not to be such a stupid shallow child, and sub-plot over. Yes, it is that abrupt. No, it doesn't work even remotely. And yes, it's made all the more ridiculous by the fact that Lucy has lived many, many years longer than her girlish figure lets on, and as an old-lady soul, she should be past this particular brand of jealous pettiness. It would be much more realistic if she was yelling at punk kids to get off her poopdeck.

Not to harp on this point, but the book handles it much more cleverly. There's a sense of final straws and snapping after more than a lifetime of being told that she's the fugly one of the family (though really, Georgie Henley is not hideous enough to develop such a complex about it).

Oh dear Lord, what is that thing?

So they make it to the next island and good grief, my will to live is starting to wane just a little. The filmmakers thought it'd be a good idea to forcefully conglomerate two distinct islands into one confusing mish-mash, with enough 'coincidental' encounters to suspend even the most ardent fan's disbelief. Dragon Island and Deathwater Island ceased to exist, instead experiencing the wondrous world of film as a geographical-Frankenstein's wet dream. We get some bull about how the smoke is testing the characters - “Shaddup Lewis! It makes sense, dammit!” - and then that's suddenly over too. Okay.

ANYway, the ambiguity of Lord Restimar's fate, which provoked a deeper philosophical debate in the book (was he eaten by the dragon or did he turn into the dragon?), has been stripped of all mystery as his skeleton is shown. Eustace proceeds to shamelessly grave-rob said skeleton. At this point, I was gunning for a vengeful ghost to haunt the jeepers out of the little toad, but no; apparently Apted has standards. Who knew?

Evil smoke is fine, but ghosts? Don't be ridiculous.

Eustace completes his obligatory dragon transformation in record time and shows little to no emotion about it. I guess we can blame the CG for that one, but don't think you're off the hook yet, actors.

My last little quibble with this is the logistics of Eustace in dragon form. Lewis makes note of all the difficulties an enormous, fire-breathing beast would face on the open sea, but such paltry concerns are evidently beneath the mighty filmmakers. Concerns such as food, water, a place to rest, and stray sparks don't warrant any attention at all, and the movie's pretty graphics try to pressure you into going along with it.

NO. If you are going to attempt sea travel with a friggin' dragon, I want to see it! Tell me about where it collapses after a hard day's work! (the sea doesn't count, cheater, unless you want the poor beastie to go up in steam) Show me how you stop it from going nuts and eating the crew to sate its ravenous hunger! Explain how its massive weight doesn't snap the mainmast or sink the ship! If you can't answer these basic queries, you're not allowed to have a dragon pulling a boat like a deranged nautical magic raindeer. Also, you're never allowed to keep pets.

“I thought my doggy was just really dedicated to playing dead.”

Alright. Thanks for your patience, folks, we should have one more installment of this monstrous analysis before the nightmare is finally over! Hang onto your sanity and try not to hold your breath as we look at the Dark island, the end of the world, and (gasp) the film's good points?

Don't touch that dial.


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