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Regardless of how faithful The Spiderwick Chronicles movie is to the
original stories by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, the film is
tremendously entertaining and thankfully resolute. Unlike the recent
flock of fantasy epics including The Golden Compass and The Seeker,
which conclude feeling wholly unsatisfactory due to an abrupt
resolution that suggests further films in the series, The Spiderwick
Chronicles easily stands alone as a complete story. With sensationally
mirthful creature designs and likable human characters, topped with
state-of-the-art special effects, The Spiderwick Chronicles is another
big win for Paramount and a high bar for family films of 2008.
The moment the Grace family moves into the dilapidated Spiderwick
Estate, strange things begin to happen. Jared (Freddie Highmore) is a
curious, adventurous boy who quickly seeks out the hidden
cob-web-covered remains of great great uncle Arthur Spiderwick's
laboratory. He unleashes a mysterious force when he locates a field
guide full of the secrets of the magical creatures that inhabit the
forest surrounding the mansion. His twin brother Simon is calm and
reserved and very much the intellectual one, but is rapidly drawn into
the fantastical world of faeries and goblins. Older sister Mallory and
their mom are harder to convince, but after the almighty and ruthless
ogre leader Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) begins to attack the home, everyone
must band together to combat the hordes of goblins and ensorcelled
creatures that lurk outside.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is, on the surface, an alluringly delightful
fantasy that blends the very best of character designs, both human and
CG, into a story that effortlessly engrosses without stumbling out of
the realm of suspended disbelief. Everything within the story makes
sense as it unfolds, and we don't question why certain things are
feasible because as the world of goblins and boggers is defined, we
have no reason not to become completely immersed in the fantasy.
Director Mark Waters doesn't rush the process of illustrating the
multitude of magic and myths, and doesn't overload us with jargon that
we couldn't possibly comprehend. The pacing is fantastic for a family
film, and doesn't fall into the three hour trap that The Lord of the
The children have more appeal and charismatic personalities than those
of the Narnia kids, and the creatures are more lovable and waggish than
those in Harry Potter. Each computer animated monstrosity and cuddly
ally beautifully blend into the forested environment, and never reach a
level of utter annoyance. The designs themselves are ingenious, with a
mix of gelatinous abominations like Redcap, the angry henchman goblin,
a furry old hamster-like man (Thimbletack, voiced by Martin Short) who
speaks in rhyme, and a mighty griffin that soars above the picturesque
clouds. Eloquently wispy faeries and an enormous horned ogre are also
substantial parts of the Spiderwick mythology, and many other exciting
creatures frequent this action-filled fairyland.
The Spiderwick Chronicles undeniably makes fantasy and magic fun. While
a few scenes of unnecessary predicaments involving the children's
divorced parents could have been cut, the film manages not to be overly
preachy, even with its many positive messages and abounding morals.
With pleasing characters, family-friendly magical adventure and a
mind-bogglingly fantastical world of faeries, goblins and ogres, The
Spiderwick Chronicles is extraordinarily entertaining fantasy fun.
- The Massie Twins
Tags for The Spiderwick Chronicles Full Movie
, Mary-Louise Parker
, Nick Nolte
, Sarah Bolger
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