The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Blu-ray)

Precocious siblings Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Heynes), along with their cousin Eustance (Will Poulter), are sucked into a painting and transported back to Narnia. They join King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and the noble mouse Reepicheep in a quest to rescue lords who had been lost fighting evil on a remote island. Aboard the magnificent ship The Dawn Treader the courageous voyagers travel to mysterious islands, confront mystical creatures, and reunite with the Great Lion Aslan on a mission that tests their characters to determine the fate of Narnia itself.

I haven't been a big fan of this theatrical franchise (nor the books, for that matter), but I do appreciate the family friendly message and just adore Georgie Henley's character. Fortunately, the director keeps the runtime under two hours and the brisk pacing helps keep the film more entertaining than the bloated second installment Prince Caspian. Disney decided the dump the franchise after the poor box office showing of the second film and Fox stepped in to the mix, but with a much lower budget (about $80 million less), and it shows in the finished product. The CGI isn't nearly as good and the cinematography takes a step back compared to its two predecessors.

Video Highlights

  • AVC/1080p encode on a BD-50 disc
  • Scope changed from theatrical 2.39:1 to 1.78:1 for the Blu-ray
  • Digitally shot
  • Crisp resolution and detail
  • Color palette slightly washed out
  • Inconsistent contrast
  • Inky blacks

Audio Highlights

  • DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack
  • Theatrical presentation was 7.1
  • Immersive surround sound experience
  • Outstanding sound design
  • Solid bass response

While the digitally shot film has crisp lines and solid definition, the color palette is slightly understated, especially during some exterior shotsThe image can look flat and uninspiring, but some of the darker sequences feature inky blacks and revealing shadows. The audio track is very good, but I don't understand why Fox didn't include the 7.1 theatrical mix.

Bonus Materials

  • Horrendous packaging
  • "The Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader" Animated Short
  • King Caspian's Guide to the Dwan Treader: Legends and Lore of the Great Ship
  • Deleted Scenes
  • 5 Island Explorations
  • Narnian Discoveries: Friends and Foes of Narnia (7 featurettes)
  • 3 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Sword Game
  • 4 Fox Movie Channel Presents Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes
  • Audio commentary by director Michael Apted and producer Mark Johnson
  • DVD and Digital Copy

I liked this installment more than the previous one, but that's not saying much. Overall, the story lacked the pizzazz or intrigue found in the Harry Potter franchise and pales in comparison. The Blu-ray presentation is decent enough but the creative choices to change the aspect ratio and not include a 7.1 audio track found in the theatrical release is puzzling, to say the least. Regardless, if you're a fan of the franchise you may want to add this to your collection, but be advised, the cardboard packaging doesn't conform to other Blu-ray discs (it's slightly larger) and be careful removing the discs because they may get scratched in the process.

Release Date: April 12, 2011
Studio: Fox

Movie: 6/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 9/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS40 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Integra DTC-80.2 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PVA-PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics