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The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

February. 14,2008
| Adventure Fantasy Drama Family

Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures.


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Best movie of this year hands down!


what a joke


Good movie, but best of all time? Hardly . . .

Brendon Jones

It’s fine. It's literally the definition of a fine movie. You’ve seen it before, you know every beat and outcome before the characters even do. Only question is how much escapism you’re looking for.


The Spiderwick Chronicles is a family adventure but although an adaptation of a series of books it lacks the wonder of the Harry Potter films but is a decent solid adventure in its own right.A newly divorced mother Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) moves with her children Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and twins Jared and Simon (Freddie Highmore) into an haunted old house in upstate New York that was once owned by her great uncle, a naturalist Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) who vanished and his now elderly daughter ended up in an asylum.Jared discovers a book written by Spiderwick that has a warning which is ignored. The book is a field guide explaining that the estate is inhabited by various mystical creatures such as goblins and fairies.The evil Lord Mulgrath wants to destroy the book but the house has various protection including creatures that protect the book from falling into the wrong hands. The Grace kids embark on a magical and dangerous adventure.The film is economical and set at a brisk pace but it is no more than middling despite some indie sensibilities the film has such as John Sayles as one of the screenwriters.


The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fine, family film in the tradition of Harry Potter and The Golden Compass, and like those other franchises, it is based on a beloved series of children's books. Although I would strongly argue that Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (from which The Golden Compass comes) goes far beyond simple "good vs. evil" children's fare; that is an argument best suited for another time and place…The basic plot line of The Spiderwick Chronicles goes like this: upon moving into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate with their mother, Helen (the MILF-tastic Mary-Louise Parker), the Grace children — twin brothers Jared and Simon (both played with aplomb by Freddie Highmore) and their sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) — find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of fantastical creatures.Unable to explain the mysterious occurrences that seem to be happening on a daily basis, the family finds a scapegoat in the unruly Jared. When he, Simon, and Mallory stumble upon Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide and begin to look into what's really going on, they uncover the incredible truth of the Spiderwick Estate and of the creatures that populate it.In and of itself, the movie is well done, but nothing spectacular, and is carried by the charisma of its two young stars (Highmore and Bolger). There is a "broken family" sub-plot that just weighs the film down and feels tacked on. In my opinion, those scenes could've easily been edited out and this would've streamlined the fantasy elements of the film, which are, undoubtedly, its best parts.The DVD I reviewed was of the Blu-ray variety and does offer a superior quality of picture and sound. The digital creature effects seem to jump off the HDTV screen, and the colors, especially in the faerie realm, are truly vibrant and crisp on my monitor set at 1080p. The 5.1 Dolby True HD sound mix is alternately thunderous and airy in the appropriate places, but does seem a bit too center-channel concentrated for my liking. If I'm in an expansive fantasy realm, I want to feel it. Unfortunately, this disc didn't quite get me to that level of aural immersion.The special features found on this disc consist mostly of making of and back-slapping featurettes, which are nicely presented in HD. The best special feature found here is the interactive, enhanced Blu-ray version of the Spiderwick Field Guide that you can access at various points throughout the film when certain creatures pop up or events unfold. This is cool and all but can be distracting on your initial viewing of the film, so you may want to turn this feature on only during subsequent viewings of the movie.At the end of the day, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a solid, if unspectacular, entry into your DVD/Blu-ray collection, especially if you have younger children at home. If you don't have kids, I would suggest a rental over an outright purchase, as it isn't one of those "showcase" DVDs that will dazzle your friends and neighbors.


The Spiderwick Chronicles doesn't break any new ground in the fantasy genre. It's no Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, it's just a simple fantasy story about three kids encountering magical creatures. Yes I have read the books, and yeah it isn't as good as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or even Lemony Snicket's. It's just a really fun fantasy movie.The film takes all five books and fits them into an hour and a half movie. Now the books are incredibly short, so for the most part this actually works really well, but they cut out pretty much every single part of the fourth book, which may tick off some book purists. Also it rely's way too much on CGI. I've said it before, I like CGI, CGI is fine with me if it isn't completely abused. And it isn't bad CGI, but it is noticeable, and I feel that the film should have had at least a little bit of practical effects on the magical creatures.I don't really have any more problems with it. It doesn't talk down to it's audience. It follows the books really well. The young actors do a really good job, especially Freddie Highmore, who plays two characters who are complete opposites. I love home invasion stories, so the fact that they changed the end battle from a junkyard to the house. And it's just a really good fantasy adventure. It has all the magic creatures we expect, goblins, ogres, brownies, trolls, even sprites.Like I said, this film doesn't revolutionize the fantasy genre, it's just a fun adventure that brings you into a magical world of faeries.


Benefiting from Deschanel's superb cinematography, this fantasy adventure has moments of elegant finesse that make it unusual in terms of modern (often brutal) cinema. The gentler "faerie" sequences and closing credits were like a lullaby for the eyes. Helped considerably by Horner's enchanting score.A well-constructed screenplay keeps the action flowing, while there's enough common-sense in the script to establish the main characters. There's even humorous asides, but these were too few to lift my spirits, as Jared and other family members deal with the emotional destruction of divorce.The writing takes a different approach to JK Rowling's since, here, Jared has to assume the role of a missing father, while Harry Potter is tasked with rebuilding a sense of family from scratch. Although, divorce as a topic is well-worth exploring, since it haunts modern society. JK Rowling tends to ignore that difficult issue entirely.Parallels with Harry Potter are unavoidable. Spiderwick's "Griffin" sequences were far too reminiscent of those seen at Hogworts. Nil points for originality there. Paramount obviously decided to compete with Warner Brothers for a highly lucrative "fantasy film" audience. Hijacking an idea wholesale didn't impress.Goblin sequences relied too heavily on CGI, although Thimbletack limited the damage by being a new CGI "take" on the "house-elf". Plowright (as Lucinda) and Highmore (in a dual-role) acted their socks off, not helped much by mediocre support. I can imagine Emma Watson or Natalia Tena, for example, making much more of swashbuckling "Mallory". Some poignant moments - due in most part to a thoughtful script and Highmore's considerable acting abilities. Keep the tissues handy.