I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a pretty good stab at the original novel, with added action which was still part of the original plot (mostly). Prince Caspianwas likewise, but with a lot more additional plot, there being a lot less original plot to work with. But the extra plot slotted in well and I liked it. It even drove home the point Lewis was trying to make: trust Aslan.
But I wondered even then what they would do with Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It’s a picaresque novel, a series of only loosely connected adventures. It’s also the one where the kids from our world really are surplus to requirements. They are along for the ride. Caspian could easily have done this all on his own and told his friends about it when they met up again in The Last Battle. How, I wondered (with some trepidation) would they turn that into a Hollywood movie?
The answer, apparently, according to Rober Ebert, is they’ve turned it into a bloody quest.
I suppose it was inevitable – it may even have been the only thing they could do. And I hope it works, because it’s my favourite of the novels, and if this tanks then there might be no Silver Chair, which would be a shame and which really is a proper quest adventure. (I would love them to get Alan Rickman as Puddleglum … but they probably won’t.)
But even so. To quote Mr Ebert: “Narnia is threatened by evil forces from the mysterious Dark Island, which no one has seen but everyone has heard about. There is a matter of seven missing magical swords representing the Lords of Telmar, which were given to Narnia by Aslan the Lion (voice of Liam Neeson) and must be brought together again to break a spell that imprisons the lords.” Gak, gak, gak, and eek.
It may yet work. I may even watch it, but probably not in the cinema unless there’s a 2D version. Yup, to rub it all in, it’s 3D. Meh. But! Even if it doesn’t stink completely, if it doesn’t have the Dufflepuds, and doesn’t have Eustace the dragon, and most especially if it doesn’t have Reep finally getting his heart’s desire at the end of the world … well, I tell you now, I will be very stern and disapproving.