Much like when you get whipped with chains every day, sometimes it'shard to tell whether a bad situation is getting better or you're justgetting used to it.
I used to hate my other job, but now I don't even notice when thetrains run over me. And at least the other rails don't talk much.Lying on the ground perfectly still all day might sound like a prettycrummy way to make a living, but after a decade or so, you won't thinkit's so bad. Like my ex-hobo coworkers say, it's better to be a railthan to ride them.
Still, it's not like the job's cooler than when I started. I'm justinured. The same thing can happen while watching a movie franchise.You get wrapped up in the universe and the characters and suddenlyrealize you're watching A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: God, Why AreWe Still Doing This and one day you'll be dead.
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So far, TheChronicles of Narnia has been 0-2. It was hard for me to imaginethe third would make the leap to "good." But with its mythology firmlyin place and its weaker actors out of the picture, the deck's clear todeliver a decent entry in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
When Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes unexpectedly return to Narnia,their obnoxious cousin Will Poulter gets dragged along, too. They'requickly reunited with king Ben Barnes, who's gone sailing in search ofthe lost lords of his father.
Their search leads them to an island where the locals are beingenslaved and delivered to a strange green mist. To rescue them andfind the lost lords, they'll have to sail into the uncharted east.
As the sequel to a movie that was barely OK that was itself a sequelto a movie that was pretty crummy, The Voyage of the DawnTreader is in perfect position to benefit from loweredexpectations. I think I can safely speak for the entire world when Isay people look forward to new Narnia entries with the same giddyenthusiasm they have for clipping their toenails.
Dawn Treader attempts to live up to this legacy of failure bygussying up the plot with a bunch of cliches. It turns out the sevenlords also have seven swords, which the children will need tocollect all of if they want to break the evil spell on Dark Island,where your worst nightmares become reality. Given how potentiallyawful that bundle of tired old business could have been, Dark Islandis apparently located in the very theater where I watched this.
Thankfully, an underdeveloped, hole-shot plot is largely irrelevant. Imean, sure, when Barnes draws special attention to one of the holes,you're likely to think "Hey yeah, how do you dorks plan to finda lone sword on a whole island that will meanwhile be busy trying tokill you with manifested fears of spiders, demons, and showing upnaked to school?"
But director Michael Apted handles his pat quest briskly, striking anice balance between action and character. Poulter is especially goodas the type of defensive blowhard who needs to be repeatedly dunked ina vat of something that smells bad. Meanwhile, his skeptical presencedefuses some of the argle-bargle of the plot, and his transformationto a braver, friendlier kid is well-earned. Considering thistransformation is aided by an oversized swordfighting mouse, it'ssurprisingly poignant.
Apted gets similar if lesser mileage out of Henley and Keynes' passagetoward adulthood. For once, the Narnian kids are compelling, theirrelationships worth caring about. That will go a long way towardsshoring up a half-baked plot.