Movie Review - The Spiderwick Chronicles

Monday, February 18, 2008

Movie Review - The Spiderwick Chronicles

Starring Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathaim, and Nick Nolte.

Rated PG for scary creature action and violence, peril, and some thematic elements. Run time of 97 minutes.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is based on the best selling book series of the same name by authors Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black. I have never read the books so I am unsure of how faithful the translation to film was handled, however I do know that the movie is terrific fun.

The Spiderwick Chronicles centers around a family that is just recently going through some hard times. The parents have split with the mother reluctantly moving the kids out to an older house that belonged to her relatives but is now abandoned. Their are three kids, an older girl and two twin brothers played both by Freddie Highmore. One of the boys is very calm and the other has some issues with anger which seem to be brought out more by the move as he did not want to move to this old house away from his father. The same night they move in, a book is found that warns to not open it. Obviously, there would be no story without opening the book. Once opened, everything is changed and the children experience a world that comes alive around the house. An evil ogre is after the book so he can destroy all the magical creatures in the land and this sets off an epic fight to destroy/save the book from the evil ogre.

It is an interesting plot, even if it is not entirely original. The direction of the movie is top-notch as it rises above the formula to create a very engaging flick that has a little something for both parents and children. I point this out as it is classified as a family film which in general must be able to entertain the children as well as the parents and this can be a tricky path to travel. The

Spiderwick Chronicles finds it and travels it perfectly. The only concerning point is that some of the marvelously animated creatures can be a bit frightening for the youngest of audiences. With this concern aside, the animation/special effects is top-notch and handled extremely well. All of the creatures interact and look the part without sticking out. There is nothing here that distracts from the story, it only enhances the plot and fantasy of the story.

The acting is perfect as Freddie Highmore once again does an amazing job. This time he turns in a dual performance as both of the twin brothers. At times the special effects don't line up his performances as well as it should, but overall he did an excellent job. The rest of the supporting cast does a great job with no unbelievable performances. Matter of fact, the voice acting for the magical creatures is quite good as well with Seth Rogen providing a bit of comic relief and Martin Short doing an excellent job of going from calm and polite to enraged and rude. Nick Nolte is a bit of a surprise playing the evil ogre. He does an excellent job and actually appears on screen as the evil ogre in human form. He brings a twisted bit of evil that really nails the villain aspect in this movie.

I was somewhat unexcited about watching this flick. I had seen the trailers and it seemed alright but nothing worth getting excited over. Then, I watched it and I really enjoyed it. The movie came in third over the weekend as Jumper and Step up 2 the Streets came in 1st and 2nd respectively so a good portion of people probably thought the same as me. Hopefully the overwhelming amount of good reviews and the excitement of people that did go to it will propel this movie into holding in the top ten in the US Box Office so the flick gets the attention it deserves. This movie is a great family flick with solid fantasy action/adventure that doesn't disappoint.

I highly recommend this flick that is playing at Cinema 3 in McCook. Check out for more information on showtimes.

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