Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 2008 fantasy film adaptation of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's bestselling series of the same name. It was directed by Mark Waters and stars Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen.

The Spiderwick Chronicles tells the tale of the Graces, a family who must adapt to their new strange surroundings. As the story begins, twin brothers Jared and Simon (Highmore), along with their sister Mallory (Bolger) and their mother (Mary-Louise Parker), move away from the big city to a mansion owned by their uncle. When a series of strange happenings suggest that Jared may be causing a number of disturbances, the siblings band together to figure out what is going on. Soon they discover the magical history of the property.

I've had this movie sitting around my house for a while and I even had the chance to see it on an airplane. The picture and sound quality was so bad that I skipped it and read an entire Lewis Black book instead. I finally found some time to watch it and after I had nothing else around to watch. I'm kicking myself now though because I was actually avoiding a really good movie.

Like that other chronicles movie, you know, the one set in Narnia and also Zathura, Spiderwick is an engaging fun movie. It combines the kids left home alone while mom or dad is out at work like in Zathura and the mythical type creatures that you would see in Narnia. I thought the Narnia movies and Zathura were great. Spiderwick isn't as great but it comes in a close second.

It starts off kind tipsy with bad acting and bad editing. Highmore, who is British, puts on a very bad American accent while also trying to play another character. Just when you think its going to go on like this the whole movie Thimbletack, wonderfully voiced by Short, shows up and gets things into gear. Suddenly, the movie becomes more exciting and you forget that Highmore is playing two different characters and think of them as separate performances.

All sorts of creatures start to show up and each one is a delight. Including Hogsqueal, voiced by Rogen in a role that kind of suits him. The whole cast is excellent which is a good thing in a movie dominated in special effects and action. Nolte shows up in a bit part that is fun to watch, Strathairn is the man, Parker is still beautiful while fighting goblins, Bolger is all grown up since In America and wouldn't mind seeing her in more things to come.

I was surprised to see that John Sayles was listed as a co-writer. At first I thought how weird it was that he went from his indie films to writing a family fantasy movie but then I realized that before his indie films he made Piranha and Alligator. He has also been in talks for years to write Jurassic Park 4. I hope he does and brings along the same fun he brought to Spiderwick.

The Spiderwick Chronicles: 7 out of 10

The special edition DVD features 4 deleted scenes, 9 Nickelodeon TV commercials and 2 trailers even though I don't know why the hell anyone would want to watch 9 commercials.



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