Most of the people who know me are aware than I am a Narnia fan, and have been since I was introduced to the series as a child - so you'll have to forgive me if I babble here.
After the fiasco of Disney bailing out on the Chronicles franchise after Prince Caspian, it was uncertain whether Dawn Treader would even make it to theatres. Fox rescued the film, teaming with Walden Media for this third release of the Chronicles of Narnia.
I wonder if Disney is kicking themselves now.
It's rare that I can say I found a movie to be better than the book on which it was based (Only once, really, and that was The Horse Whisperer, if you want to know). Dawn Treader now makes that list, for a skillful adaptation, and yes, for some new/altered material not originally in the book itself.
With the absence of Peter and Susan Pevensie in this movie, I was concerned whether it would be as enjoyable, and indeed, it seems the rest of Hollywood worried about that as well. If Dawn Treader didn't do well in theatres, word was that the rest of the Chronicles would probably not be made. Narnia isn't Narnia without all four of the Pevensie kids. But Will Poulter, who plays newcomer Eustace Scrubb in this film, is brilliant from the first word out of his mouth. He fills the void of missing Peter and Susan wonderfully, and you forget that you're witnessing only half of the Pevensie foursome in this movie.
The book always seemed to lack some cohesion and forward motion, but they have added a plot thread to the film that pulls everything together terrifically. Fans of the series will be delighted to see faithfully adapted elements of the book (as well as a return to the sweeping epicness that made Lion such a blockbuster). There are nods to the things that made Lion such a great film, but it is not a rehash of everything that went before. I was leery of the added elements I had heard about, and also of how they would portray some of the elements of the story that, to me, bordered on the silly. They navigated these perfectly.
And as to the additional material, I was satisfied in the extreme. This is a great example of revision done right. And Poulter handles the weight of this franchise's fate with such skill that I'll have to eat my hardcover copy of the Chronicles series if the rest of them don't get made. Bravo to the Dawn Treader and its crew, and I hope to see the rest of the series in theatres!