One Year To Go: NarniaWebbers Discuss Expectations

The Dawn Treader Concept Art

Thus far, the anticipation for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has been characterized by uncertainty. For a long time, we were not even sure if the movie would get made. But, one thing is certain: If the third film in the series suffers the same fate as the second, it is very possible we will not see a fourth.

Does Prince Caspian’s disappointing box office indicate that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was merely a one-hit wonder? Or was Prince Caspian just a one-time hiccup? What will happen to the franchise without Disney? What approach will Fox take to marketing? Will a December release date give the film a box office boost? Will the film be able to overcome its competition? Will The Silver Chair be green-lit?

In addition to those questions regarding the commercial state of the franchise, there has been plenty of discussion, speculation, and controversy about the script. What is this “unfathomable fate” mentioned in the synopsis? How many creatures will be on board the ship? Did Ben Barnes really mean there will be “pitched battles”? How big of a role will the Mysterious Little Girl (Gael) have? What kind of vision of Narnia will Michael Apted bring, and how will it differ from Andrew Adamson’s?

As of today, we only have one more year of anticipation before these questions are answered. To mark this occasion, we decided to ask a handful of NarniaWebbers how they feel about the state of the franchise, and their general expectations for the third film in the series. First up, we have a special edition podcast in which Rilian (Podcaster), GlumPuddle (News Poster), and first-time guest Fantasia_Kitty (Admin) share how they are feeling with one year to go. Listen below:

We also asked some of the forum moderators to type up their thoughts:

Ben Barnes and Skandar KeynesAJAiken: (Moderator: Cast and Character Discussion)

I adore the 2005 and 2008 adaptations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. Though there are moments which make the purist in me cringe, these films are two of my favorites. Besides being truly gorgeous pieces of work – have you seen the costumes, the sets, the cinematography? – they are quality movies. People who really love the books have worked hard to show their vision – yes, anyone who puts so much work into films such as these will show something of themselves that perhaps is not canonical. I’d much rather watch Susaspian than the planned adaption of LWW that set the story in San Francisco and had hamburgers instead of Turkish Delight. So I can’t wait to find out who Gael is and where she ties in to the story, and whether the production has finally stuck to character traits from the books. I’m hoping The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is as exciting and well-made as the first two films, and from what I’ve seen and heard that’s going to be so..

Will Poulter at the Wharf setDiGoRyKiRkE (Moderator: Narnia Fan Art)

My biggest concern for Voyage, and, by extension, the whole Narnia franchise, resides with Eustace.

At this point in the story, the Pevensie story line is coming to an end, and a new exciting chapter is set to begin. As a book, it works quite well, because people fall in love with the land of Narnia itself, rather than with the characters (at least I did). I’m not sure the same thing can be said of these films, in which I think the emphasis has been placed too heavily on the Pevensies, and the actors/actresses portraying them.

In an ideal world (at least for me) the crew of voyage would start to focus more on the land itself, rather than the individual characters. However, if the Narnia films to date are any example, this is nothing more than a pipe dream. It is for that reason that my biggest concern lies with Eustace.

If the filmmakers cannot sell him as a truly endearing character, which will be difficult due to his indifferent attitude at the beginning of the film/book, they may find themselves in hot water. It is my biggest fear that people will go along with their first impression of Eustace, and that movie-goers will not invest two hours of their lives in Silver Chair, if they know that the Pevensies aren’t going to be in it.

So, in closing, the filmmakers of Voyage need to shift away from Lucy and Edmund. Yes, they have interesting story lines, but Eustace is the future of this franchise, and if they alienate him as a character to placate the movie fans, rather than the book fans, I’m afraid that this franchise may sink.

Filming at the Narrowhaven Wharf set - Movie Mazzupial

GlimGlum (Moderator: Cast and Character Discussion)

I believe that one of the strengths VDT possesses is its great contrasts and balance of light and dark story elements. Some examples:

• Eustace’s early “record stinker” character – After being “undragoned” mostly positive changes
• Slave trade and Gumpas – Slaves freed by Caspian & crew and Lord Bern
• Dufflepuds menacing at first – Funny and cute after Lucy’s enchantment removal efforts
• The Dark Island and Lord Rhoop’s tormented character – Ramandu’s Island with bigger and brighter sun, singing birds, and of course Ramandu’s lovely daughter

I think that the overall audience appeal will be higher than PC because of the adventure, action (not too much we hope), real magic with a magician/wizard (Coriakin) and his house and book, fun for kids with the Dufflepuds(after becoming visible again), some scares(Dark Island), discovery(underwater Kingdom), and a wee bit of romance(I wonder who?), and the spiritual aspects of the ending.

With a better story and greater appeal, I think VDT has a really good chance of setting things right again for the Narnia film series. The new film crew and director Michael Apted are experienced and professional filmmakers. I am optimistic.

Starkat (Moderator: Cast and Character Discussion)

Lucy on the Dawn TreaderIn my opinion, Prince Caspian was a good movie, but not a good adaptation of the book. It missed one key thing that made the book so special to me. Peter was arrogant and did not bother to take Caspian seriously. By shifting the focus to “We haven’t come to take your place, but to put you into it,” the movie would have been a much better adaptation.

Marketing was another problem. Too much too fast was offered up and there was no way for the public to absorb the release and share their excitement with their friends. Word of mouth was one of LWW’s greatest strengths.

With some of the early reports from the set, I wonder if we are going to have the same problem with VDT. The BBC turned out a faithful adaptation that was also a good serial. I would hope that the writers have learned their lesson and minimize the changes. The marketing seems much more sound. It remains to be seen what the adaptation will be like. I would like to repeat my LWW experience with the wonder and excitement that I felt when reading the book instead of having to see the movie several times just to get pulled into the story like with PC.

The Dragon's Head ~ TamaraGymFan15 (Moderator: Narnia Fan Art)

I’m still not really sure what to think about VDT. So much depends on this movie doing well, and we already know that movie-going audiences can be very fickle when it comes to likes and dislikes. Some parts about the new movie that I’ve been able to see so far really excite me, like the production design, Will Poulter as Eustace, and a care for detail. Other parts leave me perplexed, a bit confused, and a little worried, like various plot and story changes that we know have taken place, and could change the success of the movie drastically, for better or for worse.

I think that either VDT will be a big success, going far and beyond what PC and perhaps even LWW took in, or it will crash and burn, making less than PC and putting the final nail in the coffin for the Narnia franchise. I don’t think there’s a middle ground.

So for us Narnia fans, we can only sit back and wait, hoping that the filmmakers know what they are doing and that everything will turn out all right. It’s far too early to make any kind of prediction either way.

What will happen? Find out this time next year! (In the meantime, isn’t it time you re-read the series?)

Now, we want to know what YOU think. Post your thoughts below or in the forum.

82 Responses

  1. Talvi says:

    You're right, Eustace is similar to Edmund in the way he goes from bad to good… except like you said, he never even gets close to being as good as Edmund. Edmund is my favorite Pevensie, though it's an extremely hard choice between him and Lucy. <3
    *crosses her fingers* I hope the Dawn Treader does well… and I REALLY hope the Pevensies are truly in it. I'm going to miss them. :'(

  2. Lady Galadriel says:

    You call the children being chased by wolves and Aslan being killed on the Stone Table with all the gruesome creatures "lollipops and rainbows"?

    :O =))

  3. EdmundPevensie says:

    I definitely think there is more we fans can do than just sit back and wait; we can (and should)pray! If we start praying for the movie now, we'll have a whole year for God to do some amazing things 🙂 And don't forget to be positive! I am so excited about this movie and I understand that a little optimism goes a long way 🙂 Further up and further in!

  4. Lady Galadriel says:

    Thank you for correcting my negative attitude.

  5. NarniaFreak says:

    I agree with you. No matter how "special affected" they make it, nothing can compare to the wonderful movie theater called imagination. That truely is and forever will be the best place to watch these stories come to live. But I still can't wait for the movie! Sail on VDT!!

  6. wolfloversk says:

    book, but you have to admit PC just doesn't work in movie standards because your main character's are missing from half the book. I think they're adaptation was decent given the circumstances. I'm glad they reorganized the plot, and I even liked the castle raid. The only thing they shouldn't have done was mess with Peter, Susan, and Caspian the wasy they did.

  7. wolfloversk says:

    Srry, my response got cut off some how the first part said that I read the book.

  8. wolfloversk says:

    I LOVED the trees! (Granted this is coming from a nature lover) it was the best part in the whole movie, especially when one tree destroyed the catapult, remember it was Aslan, the river, and the trees that won the battle. I'll admit I did imagine them as people when I first read the book, but I like the movies trees better there more realistic, yet at the same time more magical and more powerful.

  9. Lady Galadriel says:

    "you have to admit PC just doesn’t work in movie standards because your main character’s are missing from half the book."

    Understandably. Half of the book takes place with Trumpkin and the kids around the campfire.

    Some people say that the book is hard to adapt because it is a lot of talking. It appears to be talking because Lewis skims over the actual battles.

    I think it depends who is the main character/s. I, for one, believe that PC should have revolved more around the title character than the Pevensies. I would have liked it better if Caspian had perhaps been the one to rashly organize the castle raid and the Pevensies had arrived afterward.

    Anyway, that's all for now. 🙂

  10. Lstc3ltacorn says:

    The Top pictire of The Dawn Treade is awesome!!!

  11. 220chrisTian says:

    Yes! Great! Um, does anyone else not like Ben and Skandar's looks in the top photo? I prefer them in PC. lol But I prefer Georgie's look here. I agree with DiGoRyKiRkE that getting the audience interested in Eustace's character will be critical for the franchise. No more Pevensies. 🙁 Well, unlike Starkat, I got pulled into PC after just one viewing. 😉

  12. glumPuddle says:

    The whole point of the movie (and the book) is that the magic of Narnia is gone. The Telmarines have driven it out. The essence if the story is the sadness of the old days being gone, and the hope that they might return. If PC did have the same magical feeling as LWW, I would strongly criticize it.

  13. Wayne says:

    I agree, they have to make all the books into movies regardless of how much the movie makes or loses. These books and stories are what kept many people to live a better path in life and that is worth more then what any movie makes.

  14. wolfloversk says:

    If you mean the way ben has a beard and looks so much older than he did in PC, I'm actually glad of that. He's supposed to be three years older, while the pensevies were only supposed to be one year older. I was worried a lot last year because I couldn't figure out how they were gonna make Caspian look old enough. I'm glad to see that they pulled it off, somehow.

  15. Authiel Saethwr says:

    The Pevensies are my favorite, but I like Eustance because he is so like how Jack Lewis described himself in "Surprised by Joy" as a kid: priggish, know-it-all, helpless martyr of everyone else. And then he met Aslan…

  16. tenthofthatname says:

    The problem for me is the beard adds more than 3 years to his appearance in my opinion. It looks like it adds…five? Six? I don't mind if they also age Caspian up to his early 20s though.

  17. Spare-oom says:

    I hope they market it as the wonderful adventure that it is. Plus, I'm watching this one for Reepicheep. He's one of my favorite characters from Narnia. On to Aslan's Country!

  18. ChristProclamer says:

    I agreeone of the main pionts in PC is that the magic is gone. But the problem with the PC movie is that the magic never *really* came back for a lot of us.

  19. What many seem to have forgotten, or don't realize, is that while TLTWATW did good box office, it was strongly disliked by a large percentage who went to see it, and walked away feeling it was a kiddie film for the religious right that was played safe, with marginal special effects, marginal acting and weak direction. And many fans of the book felt it was a tepid adaptation with some cringe-worthy moments (the fox, Santa Clause, the soundtrack). I wasn't alone in feeling the cartoon adaptation was far stronger.

    Adamsom improved his game tremendously by PC in several ways, infusing Narnia with more character and pathos, and following the book's darker themes. I also think his need to create a more in-depth story worked well, and the acting and effects were all improved.

    But the marketing didn't establish that such was the case, and many of those who were disappointed by TLTWATW (book fans who felt the magic wasn't there and non-book fans who thought it was a kiddie flick with a Jesus angle) didn't bother to go see PC, especially as it was wedged in-between films that audiences felt wouldn't pander to little kids from fundamentalist households.

    The idiots at marketing have to pay attention to more than just a film's box office. If Disney had, they'd have not released it next to such intense competition, and the trailers would've presented a very different impression that didn't look like "TLTWATW: More of the Same (Now with Extra Action and a Teen Idol for the girls!)".

    VOTDT has a chance to reignite the franchise IF they create a film that follows the book's themes, is written and directed by people who love the source-material and are willing to let the film be as strange and wonderful as it should. And the marketing "geniuses" need to approach this as an adventure/fantasy film that isn't "color by numbers".

    Genre fans have grown weary of the cliches in fantasy films. "Fellowship of the Ring", "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Where the Wild Things Are" prove that fantasy films don't have to be formulaic or cartoonish to do well.

  20. JO says:

    Yes, it is darker, UNTIL Aslan roars! (which is my point)

  21. HighQueenofNarnia says:

    You have to remember that VOTDT was written from Lucy's point of view, not Eustace's- (of course barring the journaling that Eustace does for about three or four pages.) No one wants to watch a movie where the main character is a jerk. So maybe they could have Eustace gradually take over the movie after he is undragoned. Also, as VOTDT is the most popular book in the series, I think that it will do well even if it doesn't meet everyone's expectations. PC didn't make as much money because the producers made people place themselves in Peter's shoes to understand his actions. Most people do not want to do that- they just want to watch the movie. Hopefully the producers will not make the same mistake this time around. So- good luck to VOTDT and God's blessings to all!

  22. gadisnarnia says:

    I really like Narnia series.. Hope VDT would be better than PC so all the Narnia series can be filmed…
    By the way, does anyone know who is the cast of Ramandu's daughter??? Is she British too?