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DAWN OFTHEEND? Future looks bleak for Narnia franchise: the razz movie reviews.

IT'S been five years since the first Narnia novel was brought to the big screen, carrying with it hopes that The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe would kick off a franchise to rival Harry Potter.

But with the second instalment - 2008's Prince Caspian - failing to put enough bums on seats, Disney pulled out.

It was left to 20th Century Fox to fund this third instalment - and, make no mistake, The Dawn Treader needs to scare up some serious box office to prevent the series stalling less than halfway through.

The good news is that director Michael Apted - a Narnia newbie - brings us some gorgeous visuals, engaging animal characters and a rip-roaring sea battle at the end.

The less good news is that the story doesn't flow and that the 3D is severely underused.

Once again, we catch up with wartime evacuees Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley), who are staying in Cambridgeshire with their odious cousin Eustace Scrubb (Son Of Rambow's Will Poulter).

But we're barely into the film before the three are swept away to Narnia to be reunited with Caspian (Ben Barnes), who now commands a ship called the Dawn Treader.

With the help of the fearless talking mouse Reepicheep (Simon Pegg), the crew sail into unchartered waters in search of seven swords which will save the kingdom from a sinister green mist that's been spiriting away its residents.

While most of the cast are back - including smallish turns from Liam Neeson as Aslan and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch - and CS Lewis's Christian undertones are present and correct, the film is very different to the ones before.

Its questthemed storyline and high-seas setting make it feel like a Narnia/Lord Of The Rings/ Pirates Of The Caribbean hybrid.

But the gang's journeys from island to island to seek out those swords give the film a fractured feel that fatally undercuts the tension.

Still, Reepicheep provides humour and imaginative new creatures - including one-legged dwarves, a friendly dragon and a fearsome sea serpent - keep things ticking over.

The problem is that to ensure the survival of the franchise, which still has four parts left to run, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader needed to be great. Sorry, Narnia fans, but this it isn't.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Dec 10, 2010
Words:379
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