Who's In It: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Tilda Swinton, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, and the voices of Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg
The Basics: The older Pevensie siblings are busy with less fantastical pursuits this time around, so it's up to the younger Lucy and Edmund to go adventuring through Narnia with their obnoxious cousin Eustace. They meet up with Caspian, now the King, on his ship The Dawn Treader and they travel from island to island on a quest to rid Narnia of a curse coming from the "Dark Isle." And for the record, all comparisons to Homer's Odyssey with the added features of a can-do talking mouse and a Jesus-figure lion have already been made. And if you haven't seen the last two movies you have to go back to the beginning before buying a ticket to this one or you won't know what they're all going on about.
What's The Deal: Disney should have really held out for this third installment. It's their own fault Prince Caspian was mostly dull anyway. Of course, they might have made this one boring, too, so maybe it's a good thing in the long run that they abandoned ship. Anyway, this is the shortest (just under two hours long) and the fastest-moving of the franchise so far. And that's good news for people who want to like these movies more than they do but can't quite get over how the period details also seem to sometimes dictate a thick, starchy, pudding-like quality to the storytelling. Maybe it's the heavy moral that always seems to be lying in wait. Maybe it's just that these kids aren't as cool and modern or as magical as the Potter tribe. Whatever it is, it's what's probably going to make the difference between a movie that's loved for generations by millions and one that's just going generate millions of dollars of "like well enough" feeling on opening weekend.
Scene-Stealer: Will Poulter, from Son of Rambow, plays the kind of horrible child that you love to hate in movies but would never want to be near in real life, and he goes for it in a completely unselfconscious way that's in contrast to the quickly-growing-up Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes, both of whom have entered that part of adolescence where you second-guess everything you do. It shows here a little too much, but they'll grow out of it.
Comfort Food Elements: I've been taken to task lately by cool people for liking Aslan so much. But I do. I like it when he shows up. I like it when the movie comes to a thudding halt as he Liam Neeson-voices his moralistic wisdom. I like that he's supposed to be Jesus. Because when else do you get the nice gentle Jesus in movies? He's either being brutalized by Mel Gibson or ironically goofed on or used as some sort of twisted exorcism trick everywhere else. This is straight up be-brave-and-good Jesus. What's to dislike? Oh yeah, and SWINTON. She's always perfect, too.
3D or Not 3D: Yet another film slapped into 3D to give a little more box office insurance to a skittish studio. Aside from the annoyance of glasses wrapped around your head, you'll barely be able to count memorable extra-dimensional moments. Save your money and pick a theater where they're screening it the old-fashioned way.