All the set pieces were there -- the battle of the Lone Islands, the Dufflepuds, Deathwater, Dragon!Eustace, the sea serpent, Dark Island... But the order was jumbled, the progression of the story all wrong, and the threat of the green mist added absolutely nothing to the story. The quest for the seven lords and the world's end could easily have stood on its own without an artificial amping of the stakes. I think aria's proposed rewrite would have worked as a movie while staying far truer to the book: not just the book's plot, but its tone.
Oh, the tone. The tone of this movie was all wrong: too dark, too dreary, too desperate. One of the things that I love about Narnia is the sense of wonder that permeates the land and the people who live in it. The children never know what amazing thing they might stumble over next, what miracle might be around the next corner. The first two movies were able to carry through a sense of joy in discovery, but this movie was missing that, entirely. The journey became a means to an end; there was no sense that the journey, itself, was the destination. This is probably the greatest fault I find in the movie.
Lucy and Edmund continue to be excellent, and Eustace hit all the right notes, especially in his "annoying prat" form. I do wish, though, that we had seen more of him as a boy post-dragon. The friendship between Reepicheep and Dragon!Eustace was fun, and I liked his attempts to be helpful, like towing the ship through the calm, but it still cheapened his redemption. I have no idea how people who've only seen the movies are supposed to feel enough of a connection to Eustace to care about him as the main character of The Silver Chair, if the series continues.
In conclusion, I am sorry to say that it is probably my least favorite of the movies. I suppose, in objective terms, it's comparable in quality to the Prince Caspian film, but since a) Dawn Treader is my second favorite book in the series and b) it should have been rather harder to screw up than Caspian, I find this film more disappointing in comparison. It wasn't terrible, but for the first time I find myself not really caring whether the next movie in the Narnia series gets made. Given the promise of the first film, this is a hard thing for me to admit; nevertheless, it is true.
On the other hand, I did get to see what just might be the most wonderful trailer I have ever seen in a theater. Leopard cubs and lion cubs! Being cute and fierce! I must see this movie.
This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/513118.html. There are currently comments on DW.