'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader'
Director: Michael Apted
Rated: PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action.
Starring: Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter
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Watch the first five minutes of 'Megamind'
Common Sense Media rating: "On" for 10+
Moviefone Mama Says: It was better than I expected, given that the focus is on the younger two siblings and this series is generally less impressive than other epic fantasy franchises. But interested families will find the story a familiar heroes' journey featuring imperfect teenagers (and a new, obnoxious younger kid, who's Lucy and Edmund's uptight cousin) who manage to summon their courage and overcome their insecurities to defeat evil. For swoony tween and teen girls (and some of their moms), the handsome Orlando Bloom doppelgänger Ben Barnes returns as the swashbuckling King Caspian, who needs the Pevensies to help him find the magical swords of seven lost lords. This is a good pick for families who love fantasy flicks -- especially for those who aren't ready for the intensity of the latest 'Harry Potter' installment.
Did You Know?: The voice of Reepicheep is no longer Bill Nighy but Simon Pegg, who's best known for his irreverent comedies like 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz.'
3-D Factor: The art direction and special effects were always appealing, so the 3-D scenes are good, but you're still in for a tween-friendly spectacle if you see it in 2-D.
Parent Concerns: For once the MPAA described the concerns directly in their rating. This is a "strong" PG, because live-action peril seems realer to kids than cartoonish violence. A couple of scenes feature the creepy White Witch, and one climactic standoff with a huge sea serpent is particularly frightful. Despite some considerable swordplay, characters just seem to fall away, not really die as they do in, say, 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. For most tweens and even mature third and fourth graders who are familiar with the books, this is a safe bet.
Here are three talking points to extend your moviegoing experience.
1. Page to Screen: This saga is based on one of the most enduring, popular children's book series of all time. If you and or your children have read C.S. Lewis' 'Narnia' adventures, discuss how the filmmakers adapted the story. What changes did they make? Why do you think the screenwriter included some of those changes? Looking back at all three films, which one do you think is the best adaptation?
2. Good vs. Evil: Unlike the White Witch, the evil in this movie is less tangible -- it's a darkness that inhabits each character in the form of a mist from a dark island. Each character's secret insecurities and flaws are preyed upon and exaggerated, from Lucy's desire to be as beautiful as her older sister Susan to Edmund's need to prove he's a man like his brother and Caspian. What do you think the movie's message is about overcoming these inner "demons"?
3. Third Time's a Charm: How have Lucy and Edmund matured since this first movie? They deal with some of the same personal challenges (feelings of jealousy toward Peter and Susan, for example), but now they're adolescents themselves. How does this adventure allow them to show they are just as worthy as their older brother and sister? Now that their adventures in Narnia seem to have come to an end, do you think there should be a fourth film adapting 'The Silver Chair' or 'The Final Battle'?
Three to See: Epic Journeys
'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' is where Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy's adventure began -- in a big country house's enchanted wardrobe. The Pevensie siblings act bravely to save the magical land of Narnia.
'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' is the fifth installment in the seven-part (eight-movie!) Potter series, and it shows how Harry needs help from his friends, a group of Hogwarts friends dubbed Dumbledore's Army, to defeat Voldemort.
'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' isn't for the youngest in the family (unless they're tweens), but it's a fantastic, epic adventure about Frodo and his Fellowship of protectors and friends who attempt to save Middle Earth.