Freddie Highmore stars as Jared – a young man disturbed and
troubled by all of the upheaval in his life. His mother (Mary Louise
Parker) and father are getting a divorce, so he, his twin brother,
Simon (also Highmore), and older sister, Mallory (Sarah Bolger), are
moving into an old, rundown family home in the countryside. Looking for
something to do in the middle of nowhere, and to get away from
everyone, Jared starts poking around secret areas of this old estate,
discovers Arthur Spiderwick’s (David Strathairn) office, and
finds a mysterious book.
Inside, he reads about the invisible world all around him full of
frightening and magical hidden creatures, but the book’s
protector, Thimbletack (voice by Martin Short), warns him of danger if
the evil ogre Mulgrath (voice by Nick Nolte) seizes the tome and
attempts to take over the world. Of course, Mulgrath sees his
opportunity and decides to go for it.
Can Jared, Simon and Mallory win the battle with Mulgrath’s
evil army? Will any adults believe them?
Based on the books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, The
Chronicles is good enough to keep you and an older child entertained, but don’t expect the next Harry Potter fever to
emerge from this movie. Throughout the film, you feel like some of
these moments and themes have popped up before as one character speaks
like he is straight from a Dr. Seuss book, another is going on like
Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride and the whole
idea of an invisible
world is very much like Arthur
and the Minimoys (which was released in
book form in France in 2002. The Spiderwick Chronicles
book came out in
2003, but I don’t want you to think they copied from each
other. Let’s call it coincidence.).
However, director Mark Waters makes an efficient movie that keeps the
plot moving forward, and spares us the long drawn out ending most
movies tend to go for these days. He’s a director who knows
when it is over, and moves on. Meanwhile, Water also knows how to make
this magical world come to life with the right amounts of frights,
mystery and comic relief.
If you have small children, The Spiderwick Chronicles
may have goofy
characters that appeal to them, but you should watch out for the
violence and scary images. While the film is rated PG, kids under
10-years old may be frightened by the sword fights where characters get
stabbed and sliced, monsters attack our heroes, and some people get
dragged away into the forest. One character even comes close to
blurting out an expletive, but the edit happens early enough to stop us
from hearing the entire word, but late enough for almost everyone to
know what word is being spoken.
The Spiderwick Chronicles will not
start a new fad, but might be enough
to give you a reason to head to the movies this weekend.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is rated
PG for scary creature action and violence, peril and some thematic