The Chronicles of what?

Third Narnia is lost at sea.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG.
Rated 2.0

Maybe I’m being unfair, but shouldn’t a film titled The Chronicles of Narnia, well, chronicle the adventures of Narnia? The third installment of C. S. Lewis’ novel-turned-film series sets so much of the action onto a ship that it might as well be called “The Chronicles at Sea.” Unfortunately, the excitement of the ocean landscapes upon which The Voyage of the Dawn Treader takes place lasts about five minutes. After that you realize that even the seas of Narnia are just giant ponds of water.

This disappointment stems from my comparing this installment to the significantly stronger (and much more visually appealing) original Narnia movie, 2005’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. With the third film, it’s clear the filmmakers struggled to keep the magic of Narnia’s once-alluring fantasy world alive. With so many forced location detours and subplots to keep things interesting, both the film’s unity and clarity of plot get lost at sea.

But the basics were clear enough to recount. The youngest Pevensie siblings, Edmund and Lucy (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley), accept a third round of adventure when they’re transported back to Narnia to join forces with their old friend, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes). Together, they must travel across the seas to save the Seven Lost Lords of Narnia to restore safety. After that, the story line gets a little hazy. I’m still not exactly sure what the purpose of the Seven Lords is, but maybe that’s because I momentarily fell asleep when the story hit one of its major narrative lulls.

To be fair, younger viewers probably won’t be so critical of the film’s plot failures. With likeable children playing the heroic leads, and decent special effects to complement the frequent magical-action sequences, the target audience might find more entertainment in those two hours than I did. But it still ain’t no Harry Potter.