Narnia Recap: In the last movie installment, our heroes learned that defeating scary green EVIL MIST is a better plot hook than finding seven guys that even they don't give a toss about.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 23:00 - 45:00
So, yay, it is Narnia Movie Week, if you are here for the Twilights, I am sorry but there are no Twilights, there is only Narnia Movie Week. AND IT IS OFF THE HOOK. (You kids still say that, right? Let's assume that you do.)
When we last left our heroes, they were slaves which is obviously very sad. Then they get to see a demonstration of what is in store for them if they don't get themselves rescued (Raising the Stakes! Otherwise we would have assumed that they would have had a nice life as slaves and everything would have been lovely forever!) and thankfully we are spared a scene with Caspian pontificating about how Slavery Is Bad, Ya'll because it turns out that we in the audience have been trusted to assume that the Good Guys would be anti-slavery. So instead we get to see a woman (grr, movie, would it kill you to take the dad/father for once but WHATEVER) get put on a boat with a lot of other people and then they're pushed out to sea and the EVIL MIST gets them and they are gone omg.
Now, if this were the book characters, they would be like "can we please have their stuff now", but it is the movie characters and they are properly appalled, so that's nice. And then the Dawn Treader sailors rescue the slaves, and Lucy smacks people with heavy objects, and hey look THERE IS A FAUN so I take back what I said in the last post about the Minotaur being the only non-human on-board, and then the cutest thing happens. Eustace runs back to the boat and waits quietly on the seats, and this is sensible because he was taken captive in the previous scene and used to force everyone to surrender, so I'm 100% chalking this up to a sensible thing for a character to do and not "cowardly" or something like that. And then Eustace frowns at the boat and says in exasperation, "Oh you're a boat in a magical land. Can't you row yourself?" And it is so perfect.
1 <3 Eustace.
Anyway. There's a big ol' fight scene, which is very satisfying, because American film-makers understand that sword-stabbery is more interesting than watching Caspian plan a parade so that he can go beat up a harmless old man who had the misfortune to not call in sick that day. Then the Kidnapped Woman's Husband (he's gonna be Rhince, because why wouldn't you reuse an otherwise unnotable character's name, and I really can't tell if she has a name, and IMDB calls her "Gael's mum" which is obviously perfect and by perfect I mean terrible), runs up and is all "yo, I'm a sailor, I need to come with" and Caspian is all "yeah, I mean, I get it, sure" and then his daughter is all like "um!" and he tells her that he'll be back and she gets a name (Gael) so probably we'll never see her again.
There is a diary-writing scene in which Eustace tries to talk to a seagull, because he naturally assumed that the birds could talk as well as the mice, and it is ALL THE THINGS. So much love for this scene. And this segues into Eustace "stealing" food, and in a nice way because, well, I'm just going to skip ahead and tell you that Gael will be discovered as a castaway in about 5 movie-time minutes, and there's an implication that she's the reason the food has been disappearing, but Reepicheep just assumed that it was Eustace doing all the stealing. So this is kind of a nice touch because they (a) removed the fact that Eustace was literally dying of thirst when the "theft" happened, (b) justified the theft being worse than it actually was (i.e., lots of food is missing, not just one tiny bit), and (c) have Reepicheep being mistaken about something while still trying to be nice--in the movie, he tries to let Eustace go without telling anyone, but things escalate quickly.
And when Eustace grabs the Mouse's tail, it's more of a reflex (as it looked like Reepicheep was maybe about to smack him in the face with it) than a malicious bullying thing.
Then they have a duel between Eustace and Reepicheep and here are my mixed feelings. It's nice to see Reepicheep slipping into a kindly mentor role, and I appreciate that this scene is supposed to be sweet, but I am so sick to the teeth of these scenes because someone slicing up my clothes (for reals) and criticizing my technique at something I don't know how to do isn't motivational to me and never has been. These "bond with the drill sergeant" scenes would 100% start and end with me sitting down on the floor and crying forever, and so I get really tired of the "positive learning!" response being treated like a universal constant in ways that reinforce people using this trope in real life. But anyway, I digress. Bonding occurs.
AND THEN WE GET +1 GIRL CHARACTERS. And everyone is chill about it and calls her a "crewmate" as opposed to trying to coddle Gael into a corner because girl cooties or whatever.
Some more foreshadowing (which also happened in the last segment, sorry I forgot to mention) about Edmund being unhappy with having to Mother May I everything by Caspian because, you know, King Edmund the Just and now he's playing second fiddle to someone who was (canonically, anyway) younger than him the last time he was here. And I really like the line they're walking with Edmund's ball of ragey feels--he doesn't come off like a jerk to me so much as just someone understandably broken and frustrated by all these Narnian shenanigans. Which, THANK YOU, I have been saying all this time.
Now! First Island: Dufflepuds!
This is a departure from the book (where the first island was the Dragon Isle), but this is for the best because it lets them get the really awful island out of the way first and in a way that at least attempts to sidestep a lot of the awful by trying to lash it to the plot. Caspian et. al. camp on the island (because, um, the ship isn't fun to sleep on? I guess?) and the invisible Dufflepuds kidnap Lucy because she has a book by her head and therefore is a Reader. (They do mention that she's a girl, but this gets dropped. I am glad they didn't keep that plot point, but -2 points for forgetting to cut that line.) Anyway, it's super sweet because when they finally confess that they need HER to do the spell because THEY can't read, Lucy asks, "Why didn't you just say so?" Because you know meta!Lucy would help, even if book!Lucy was all "pssh, slavery is kickass, carry me to my throne, plebs".
Anyway. Spell book. The EVIL MIST makes the beauty spell appear, which is a fun touch because at least now we don't have to worry that Aslan was tempting her on purpose. And the spell preview actually makes her look just like Susan which kinda nicely plays up Inadequate Sibling Feels as opposed to Wanting To Be Pretty Is Evil, and I do appreciate that because we get enough of the latter already. Anyhow, Lucy tears out the spell to take for later, and this is a nice pacing decision I must say, and also THEOLOGIES because while Aslan does his little roaring at her, she still takes the spell page with for later so FREE WILL.
Lucy reads the visibility spell and Coriakin has been there the WHOLE TIME which, kinda creepy. And then you can almost-literally hear the writers trying to backpedal from the source material, because there is ZERO mention of transformation, and instead all the magician did to the Dufflepuds was to make them invisible and that was ONLY in order to protect them from the mist. And all this would be offensive and colonialist anyway (and HAHA no I would not trust the people in charge of this movie to grok that because gah our culture), but we go one further to ruin it more by still having Coriakin being a total tosser who lords over his power to frighten them. When they criticize him for making them invisible without their consent, he blows magic powder dust at them, and they run away in terror. Lucy asks what he threw at them and he says, "Lint. But don't tell them."
|Coriakin, professional asshole|
HAHA, PLEASE DIE, CORIAKIN.
Anyway. Once the Dufflepuds are shuffled off-stage to be never seen again, we're back in the comfortable territory of bog-standard movie tropes. Coriakin's magic map is actually used here for plot exposition to state where the EVIL MIST is coming from (ye yonder dark island) and how to fix everything: collect all the Lost Lords, er, the MAGIC SWORDS they were each carrying, and slap all the swords on Aslan's Table and everything will be sunshine and roses forever. Sounds legit.
So, to recap: American movie industry. Shitty at fixing colonialism, but competent at special effects and overused plot MacGuffins.