"We have nothing, if not belief," he lectures Eustace, who thinks they're all "barking mad" over this island-hopping adventure.
The tests are about vanity, ego, faith and courage, and they figure in the sermons of the ghostly God-figure Aslan, the anatomically incorrect lion voiced by Liam Neeson. Sermons they are, but they go down much easier here than in director Michael Adamson's previous Narnia films.
The effects don't overwhelm the film, but the 3-D is pointless, and time and again, the producers' tight-fistedness in spending money on actors shows through.
Grizzled characters, including a Prospero-like wizard, come and go and leave no impression whatsoever. Hiring a few more recognizable actors would have improved this series from the start.
Nevertheless, Apted makes good use of those he has and gives this "Chronicle" an emotional resonance and lightness of touch that were lacking in the films Disney made (Fox has taken over distribution of these Walden Media projects). There are more novels to be filmed, depending on whether this one sinks or swims.
The finale to this one is so satisfying that, revival or fond filmed farewell, the Dawn Treader makes port after a voyage worth taking.
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"
Our grade: B
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Action
Running Time: 112 min
MPAA rating: PG
Release Date: Dec 10, 2010