I went to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie over the weekend. I liked it. I thought Will Poulter, the boy who played Eustace Scrubb, was brilliant. I would go so far as to say his Eustace Scrubb is better than the Eustace Scrubb in my head when I read the book. He will henceforth be the Eustace Scrubb in my imagination in a way that, say, the Prince Caspian (or, for that matter, the Reepicheep) from the movie won’t be.
The things I love most about Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader are things that simply don’t translate to film. I’ve always loved the fact that for all the outward splendor of the story and for all the conflict and potential for conflict, the most interesting action happens within the characters. So, for instance, in the battle with the sea serpent, Eustace strikes a blow that makes absolutely no difference in the outcome of the battle, but it’s hugely significant insofar as he doesn’t run from the battle but enters in–and we know we have a whole new Eustace. Or consider Lucy’s inner struggle when she reads the spell for surpassing beauty in Coriakin’s book of incantations. I love that scene in the book, but I don’t know how it could be conveyed in a movie. And, for the most part, I don’t much like movies that are about people’s inner states. I’ll read a book if that’s what I want. Certain scenes felt “messed up” to me, but once I thought about why they didn’t feel right, I couldn’t make any suggestions as to how they might be fixed.
Like a lot of Narnia fans, I was disappointed in the “un-dragoning” of Eustace. It seemed to have been stripped of much of its spiritual significance. If I didn’t have to get ready for a Christmas party, I would get into it. I will say, however, that if I had taken my six-year-old to a movie and she saw somebody getting his skin peeled off, I would have been barking about that too.
So to summarize: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie is good. There were some things I didn’t like, but for the most part those things simply come down to the fact that movies are different from books. I’m stating the obvious here. I hope you’ll forgive me.