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Review: The Chronicles of Narnia- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Easy A, Megamind, Rare Exports and Skyline

By December 7, 2010December 31st, 2013No Comments

After the unusu­al occur­rence last week of actu­ally lik­ing everything, reg­u­lar read­ers will be reas­sured that nor­mal nit-picking ser­vice is resumed this week.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader posterFirstly, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third in the series of big budget adapt­a­tions of CS Lewis’ beloved alleg­or­ies (and the first to screen in 3D). Roughly three years after the last film ended two of our hero­ic child-royals are returned to Narnia via a magic oil paint­ing of a ship at sea.

Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Lucy (Georgie Henley) and their annoy­ing cous­in Eustace (played with gusto by young Will Poulter) arrive in Narnia to join the Dawn Treader on a search for the sev­en lords (and sev­en swords) who will finally unite all the war­ring coun­tries and bring peace, etc., etc. All is much as you would expect from the pre­vi­ous install­ments, apart from the fact that Caspian (Ben Barnes) has lost that annoy­ing vaguely Mediterranean accent and the talk­ing mouse Reepicheep now sounds like Simon Pegg instead of Eddie Izzard.

What fol­lows is a stir­ring tale told mostly on the high seas as all the char­ac­ters (but mostly the human chil­dren) dis­cov­er that their secret insec­ur­it­ies are what they should most be afraid of, not the mys­ter­i­ous green mist of evil they think they are fight­ing. These are good les­sons and this review­er found the third Narnia film to be much more sat­is­fy­ing than the sev­enth Potter film, and much more respect­able. The kids are bet­ter act­ors, too.

Easy A posterTalking of mor­ally respect­able, young star­let and gif­ted comedi­enne Emma Stone (Zombieland) gets her first lead­ing role in Easy A, a teen com­edy that sur­prises simply by being much more inter­est­ing than it has a right to be. Stone is mostly anonym­ous high school­er Olive who lies to her friend that she lost her vir­gin­ity to a col­lege stu­dent when in fact she spent the week­end groom­ing her dog.

They say that a lie will be half way around the world before the truth has even got its pants on, and at high school it’s even quick­er. Stone soon finds she has a new (and not unwel­come) notori­ety but keep­ing up her repu­ta­tion without actu­ally liv­ing up to it soon back­fires. Smart, witty and sin­cere, Easy A is eas­ily recommended.

Megamind posterMegamind (in 3D) tries very hard to be enter­tain­ing and some­times suc­ceeds but you can see Dreamworks’ strain of com­pet­ing with Pixar’s effort­less storytelling skills is start­ing to show. Super-villain Megamind (mis-named, mis­un­der­stood and voiced by Will Ferrell) finally gets rid of the lantern-jawed fly­ing hero Metro Man (Brad Pitt) and takes over the city. He soon finds out that a vil­lain without an arch enemy isn’t much fun so he con­structs a nemes­is (Titan, voiced by Jonah Hill from Get Him to the Greek) hop­ing that he will get his mojo back. Megamind has its moments but there are some big gaps between them.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Story posterTwas the night before Christmas and all through the house,” the poem goes, “Not a creature was stir­ring, not even a mouse.” Except in the bizarre new film Rare Exports where at a moun­tain in remote Northern Finland a secret pro­ject aims to uncov­er the buri­al site of the real Santa Claus, dig him up and – um, not sure actu­ally, the plans are vague, but appar­ently they think he’ll be worth something.

What these big busi­ness sharks don’t real­ise, in fact only loc­al kid Pieteri (Onni Tommila) does, is that the real Santa wasn’t the friendly, jolly Coca Cola Santa we all love but a demon whose pun­ish­ment of the naughty went a lot farther than the with­hold­ing of presents. Rare Exports: A Christmas Story is a very strange beast indeed, played with beau­ti­ful Scandinavian dead­pan by the entire cast and it’s destined to find a cult following.

Skyline posterThe relent­less need for Hollywood to find new and more explos­ive ways to have civil­isa­tion des­troyed by ali­ens reaches a new low with The Strause Brothers’ Skyline in which some (sup­posedly) good look­ing non-entities watch the inva­sion of Earth from a Los Angeles beach­front pent­house. Arguing amongst them­selves, these nar­ciss­ist­ic wretches are power­less against the ali­ens and the film­makers are power­less to res­ist the urge to use even more digit­al toys rather than con­struct a com­pel­ling narrative.

Everything about Skyline is deplor­able except first-timer Michael Watson’s cine­ma­to­graphy – the stun­ning aer­i­al foot­age of Los Angeles at dawn and dusk is mem­or­able, even if it even­tu­ally gets ruined by the Strause’s digit­al tomfoolery.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 8 December 2010.