Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter, Simon Pegg, Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton, Anna Popplewell

Directed by: Michael Apted

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Another Christmas, another return to the magical land of Narnia. This time, with boring old Peter and Susan now too old to enter the enchanted realm, it's up to Lucy (Georgia Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) to save the day when they are swept back to the ancient kingdom through an overly watery seascape. There they – plus obnoxious accidental stowaway cousin Eustace (Son of Rambow's Will Poulter) – find themselves on board the Dawn Treader, and at its helm their old friend ex-Prince now King Caspian (Ben Barnes, still tasty with a beard).

Cue the expected adventure (this time with a lot more stuff flyin' in atcha, in case you're gullible enough to pay extra for 3D) as the characters are tested morally, falter, but of course come through smiling.

Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg) and Eustace (Will Poulter)

After finding Prince Caspian a teensy bit dull, I didn't hold out much hope for the third instalment in the Chronicles of Narnia series. But I reckoned without the film's secret weapons: Will Poulter as Eustace and Simon Pegg as chivalrous rapier-wielding rodent Reepicheep, whose delightful relationship invests the narrative with both humour and heart.

Georgie Henley as Lucy, with Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson)

Yes, the characters and plot seem simplistic, and the Narnia films have always lacked the epic grandeur of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the ambiguous morality of Harry Potter and the imaginative audacity of The Golden Compass. But, taking a huge leaf from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the swashbuckling action is exciting, the desert island locations lavish and the monsters big and slimy (yay!). And unlike the most recent Harry Potter outing, the children in our cinema thoroughly enjoyed it, greeting Aslan with cheers like a pantomime hero.

It'll never be your film of the year, but for a festive family outing, you can't go far wrong taking another trip to Narnia.

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