What happens when the second movie in a potentially seven part series disappoints and alienates? You make a better movie the third time out and hope the people you alienated come back despite the failings of the previous movie. For the record, I thought “Caspian” was an okay movie. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. I thought it tried way too hard to be epic on the level of something like Lord of the Rings and, in my opinion, the Narnia books do not translate when they were done with attempts at the epic feel that Peter Jackson infused almost every LOTR scene with.
So what about “Treader?” Was it a better movie and did it work as a movie?
The short answer is yes to both questions. “Treader” is a movie that is a lot of fun to watch. It’s an adventure story on the high seas. Think of something like Pirates of the Caribbean that is more kid friendly and with strong Christian underpinnings. It is a hoot watching Reepicheep and Eustace spar both verbally and physically. All the rest of main actors really grew into their characters. Caspian was far less wooden in this movie and the entire cast seemed to have a comfort with each other born out of doing multiple movies together. Will they win any acting awards? No. Still the performances were universally solid with no glaring weak points.
What about the special effects? If you follow any film news, you know that “Treader” had a significantly lower budget than “Caspian.” Thankfully, you would not know it by watching the movie. The stronger story and acting made the effects of this film seem less like eye candy and more tightly integrated. The set pieces were beautiful and well crafted. The CGI used to bring the creatures to life looked top notch. I know the film truly succeeded here for me because I honestly forgot that the actors were interacting with animated creatures that did not even exist on the set when they were filming.
What about the Christian elements? Definitely there. They were most apparent at the end of the movie. One of the most powerful scenes in the entire series takes place in “Treader.” Eustace, who had turned into a dragon because of selfishness and greed was trying without success to scratch the scales off of his body to get back to the human underneath. This is a clear reference to sin and our inability to do anything to redeem ourselves. Aslan comes along and in the movie (which is toned down a bit from the book because if they had shown what happened in the book it likely would have merited PG-13 on the rating scale) he begins to scratch on the sand with his paw. The scales on Eustace begin to tear off and eventually Aslan transforms him back into a boy. It was a truly powerful scene that left me wanting to see it again. There was also a very clear reference to Jesus at the very end where Aslan told the children that in their world they would know him by a different name. That’s good stuff and I am exceedingly grateful that the power of those lines and scenes was left intact in the film.
In conclusion, Christians need to go see this movie. In fact go and see it two or three times if you can afford it. Christians often complain that Hollywood only puts out smut. Well, here is a well made, fun, and undeniably Christian movie. The only way that more movies like this will ever get made is if they perform well at the box office. I know many of you were disappointed by “Caspian,” but this film is far superior and is very much deserving of support. So if you haven’t seen it already, pack up the family and take them to the local cinema. This would be a wonderful film to go and see around Christmas time since the Christian themes of the movie fit well with the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Basically, just go see the movie. Call me selfish, but I want to see the other films get made.