Local Movie Reviews
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Reviewed By: September McConnell - Executive Director, The Whitley County Community Foundation
February 18, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles stars Freddie Highmore (as look-alike twin brothers Simon and Jared Grace), Mary-Louise Parker (Mom), Sarah Bolger (Mallory), Nick Nolte (the Ogre Mulgarath), Joan Plowright (Lucinda), David Strathairn (Uncle Arthur Spiderwick), and Martin Short (Thimbletack).
After reading another parentís warning of dreadful violence and gore included in this film, I almost left my nine year-old daughter at home; and what a shame that would have been! The Spiderwick Chronicles is a charming, action-packed fantasy adventure not to be missed.
The movie is one of those rare treats that manages to keep adults engaged and children on the edge of their seats. A talented cast is teamed with terrific special effects that simultaneously captivate and repulse viewers. Add to the mix, a spell-binding musical score by James Horner, and you have sheer entertainment.
Drawn from the popular childrenís books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Iím told that the film stays true to the stories from which it originated. I was pleasantly surprised by the quick pace at which Director Mark Waters (Freaky Friday) draws viewers into the story line and swiftly develops a sense of mystery and adventure.
The Grace Family (mom, older sister and twin boys) move into the creepy, abandoned home of their Great-Great Uncle Arthur Spiderwick, an eccentric naturalist. Early clues to the odd history of the mansion include salt on the window sills, and stockpiles of honey and tomato sauce. It isnít long before Spiderwickís field guide to mythical creatures is discovered and opened against warning, unleashing a veritable Pandoraís Box of secrets and strange creatures.
While some of these beings are kind, such as the bird-eating hobgoblin Hogsqueal, and the tiny honey-loving elf Thimbletack, others such as the toad-like goblins and their leader, the shape-shifting ogre Mulgarath, are downright evil. The plot surrounds Mulgarathís obsession with obtaining the field guide and discovering its secrets that will give him ultimate power.
As the story unfolds, the kids become responsible for protecting the book and defending the Spiderwick home. I found it pleasing that the children are empowered and it is their ingenuity and tenacity that eventually wins out.
While largely fixated upon the ogreís quest, an underlying sub-plot focuses on real, human issues facing the characters. Both the elderly Lucinda, as well as the three Grace children, struggle with a shared hard truth. Their fathers were more interested in their own lives than those of their kids. If the film contains a moral message, it is simply the importance of fathers in the lives of their children.
At the movieís end, I waited for a response from my daughter. She quietly breathed ďOh . . . I didnít want it to end.Ē It doesnít get much better than that!
Note: This probably isnít a movie for very young children who are easily frightened, but for older kids, the goblins werenít any more daunting than the foes of many superheroes.
Prior Movie Reviews:
Prior Movie Reviews: