Feb 24, 2008

[Movies] The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick ChroniclesThe last movie in our three-movie marathon last Sunday was The Spiderwick Chronicles, an interesting fantasy based on the series of children's books of the same name.

In terms of this review, it seems a good thing that I haven't read the books since that keeps this review more or less impartial in terms of the source material, which is always my goal when I write these things. I know it seems I keep saying this over and over, but then you have to admit that more and more movies these days tend to be adaptations. What's up with that?

The Spiderwick Chronicles tells the story of a family who move into the former home of Arthur Spiderwick, a scientist who mysteriously disappeared many years ago. The family soon discovers the fruits of Spiderwick's labors in the form of a "field guide" to seeing the magical creatures hidden all around us and find themselves involved in a conflict hidden to most eyes.

The movie revolves around the twins as played by Freddie Highmore, who doesn't appear to be getting that much taller as the years progress, but maybe that's just me. It was a bit weird to see him as two people, but then I suppose it was a better alternative for the producers as opposed to hiring actual twins with questionable star power or acting ability.

The special effects for the movie were simply stellar and I have to admit I loved how they brought the various magical creatures to life. They didn't seem overly CGI-ish, if you get my drift, although Thimbletack (surprisingly voiced by Martin Short) did feel a little too much like Stuart Little at times his height and how he was animated.

Despite not having read the books, I have to admit the movie felt rather rushed and cramped towards the end, as if pages upon pages of source material were being skipped. Given the number of books covered by this movie, I'm pretty sure that was actually the case and the quality of the overall story suffered for it. Don't get me wrong, the build-up was pretty gripping and I was certainly involved in the story but towards the end things just went too fast and I know more exposition was needed to make it truly meaningful.

It's still an entertaining piece, don't get me wrong. There's no question children will enjoy it and at times be scared given how the story goes in certain points. As for older audiences, I'm not entirely sure just yet. I guess the way the plot was compressed may not be the sort of thing that most people will come to enjoy and it will feel too much like the story was kept at a level acceptable to younger audiences alone. I felt it was okay overall, but nothing to really jump up and down and get excited about.

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