The strong sense of adventure throughout The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader helps make the film, which clocks in at 113 minutes, an enjoyable experience and almost overcomes the lack of an actual villain (a mysterious evil mist doesn’t cut it). While the coda is appropriately touching without being overly sentimental, Aslan’s mentioning that he is known under a different name in the children’s (i.e., our) world—an obvious reference to Christ/God—leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Working from a screenplay written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Michael Petroni (C. S. Lewis wrote the source novel), Michael Apted directs the movie competently but doesn’t make any remarkable directorial choices. Alas, the filmmakers only partially succeed in evoking the atmosphere of magical wonder that exists both in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The visual effects are uneven and, by today’s standards, rather unspectacular (I can’t comment on the quality of the 3D effects because I have only seen the 2D version of the movie). David Arnold’s score occasionally draws attention to itself in a positive way, effectively emphasizing certain key moments in the film.
Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes fill out their roles as Lucy Pevensie and Edmund Pevensie adequately and with balanced maturity. Even though his screen presence may not qualify as regal, Ben Barnes does a fine job in the role of the young, somewhat insecure King Caspian. Will Poulter, who plays Eustace Scrubb, turns out to be a welcome addition to the cast; he delivers quite a good, dedicated performance and handles his character’s inner journey with confidence. The voice acting by Simon Pegg and Liam Neeson, who provide the voices for Reepicheep and Aslan, respectively, is exemplary.