The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
131 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
The Spiderwick Chronicles Movie Review by The Massie Twins
GoneWithTheTwins14 February 2008
Regardless of how faithful The Spiderwick Chronicles movie is to the original stories by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, the film is tremendously entertaining and thankfully resolute. Unlike the recent flock of fantasy epics including The Golden Compass and The Seeker, which conclude feeling wholly unsatisfactory due to an abrupt resolution that suggests further films in the series, The Spiderwick Chronicles easily stands alone as a complete story. With sensationally mirthful creature designs and likable human characters, topped with state-of-the-art special effects, The Spiderwick Chronicles is another big win for Paramount and a high bar for family films of 2008.

The moment the Grace family moves into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate, strange things begin to happen. Jared (Freddie Highmore) is a curious, adventurous boy who quickly seeks out the hidden cob-web-covered remains of great great uncle Arthur Spiderwick's laboratory. He unleashes a mysterious force when he locates a field guide full of the secrets of the magical creatures that inhabit the forest surrounding the mansion. His twin brother Simon is calm and reserved and very much the intellectual one, but is rapidly drawn into the fantastical world of faeries and goblins. Older sister Mallory and their mom are harder to convince, but after the almighty and ruthless ogre leader Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) begins to attack the home, everyone must band together to combat the hordes of goblins and ensorcelled creatures that lurk outside.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is, on the surface, an alluringly delightful fantasy that blends the very best of character designs, both human and CG, into a story that effortlessly engrosses without stumbling out of the realm of suspended disbelief. Everything within the story makes sense as it unfolds, and we don't question why certain things are feasible – because as the world of goblins and boggers is defined, we have no reason not to become completely immersed in the fantasy. Director Mark Waters doesn't rush the process of illustrating the multitude of magic and myths, and doesn't overload us with jargon that we couldn't possibly comprehend. The pacing is fantastic for a family film, and doesn't fall into the three hour trap that The Lord of the Rings sets.

The children have more appeal and charismatic personalities than those of the Narnia kids, and the creatures are more lovable and waggish than those in Harry Potter. Each computer animated monstrosity and cuddly ally beautifully blend into the forested environment, and never reach a level of utter annoyance. The designs themselves are ingenious, with a mix of gelatinous abominations like Redcap, the angry henchman goblin, a furry old hamster-like man (Thimbletack, voiced by Martin Short) who speaks in rhyme, and a mighty griffin that soars above the picturesque clouds. Eloquently wispy faeries and an enormous horned ogre are also substantial parts of the Spiderwick mythology, and many other exciting creatures frequent this action-filled fairyland.

The Spiderwick Chronicles undeniably makes fantasy and magic fun. While a few scenes of unnecessary predicaments involving the children's divorced parents could have been cut, the film manages not to be overly preachy, even with its many positive messages and abounding morals. With pleasing characters, family-friendly magical adventure and a mind-bogglingly fantastical world of faeries, goblins and ogres, The Spiderwick Chronicles is extraordinarily entertaining fantasy fun.

  • The Massie Twins
127 out of 153 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
A decent, fun filled movie that will keep you entertained
nubby_G8 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I work at IMAX theaters, and we showed an advanced staff screening tonight. Having been surrounded by posters and trailers for Spiderwick Chronicles for months, I was already sick of the film before I even saw it. But I went into it with an open mind, and found myself pleasantly surprised. The plot centers around a broken family that moves into an old house that has been in the family for years, in hopes of "starting over". Freddie Highmore plays two roles, twin brothers Jarod and Simon, and does an impressive job at keeping the two personalities distinct and different. Jarod, the angsty protagonist of the film, discovers a book (titled, the Spiderwick Chronicles) written by his late great uncle depicting in explicit detail the creatures of a "hidden world" all around us. Jarod reads the book, and in the process awakens an evil Ogre and a horde of goblins hell bent on obtaining the knowledge hidden within the book to destroy mankind, and creature-kind as well. The pacing is decent, and the acting works well within the context of the film. Oddly, it's the adult actors that deliver the lamest lines, as they seem profoundly out of place in this otherwise fantasy and child actor filled film. The CGI effects were well implemented too, with various characters and creatures popping up here and there to provide comedic relief, and often, pivitol plot development. The various supporting characters do a great job of keeping things moving, most notable being Jarod and Simons sister, Mallory, played by Sarah Bolger, who delivers a great performance. Having never read the books, I can't make any comparisons, but what I saw in the film I liked quite a bit. Not the most complex of movies, and there are some glaring plot holes here and there, but overall, it holds up pretty well, albeit some wonky script writing here and there.
101 out of 123 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
The Spiderwick Chronicles
cultfilmfan16 February 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles is based upon the books of the same name by Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black. The film centers around a mother and her three children who move into a mysterious and creepy new house pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The one son Jared who is the main character in the film, finds a book written by the previous owner of the house and Jared soon discovers that this is a magical yet very dangerous book that a lot of goblins and little creatures are after, but with the help of his twin brother, his older sister and some friendly creatures he gets the book to safety and also protects himself and his family from the evil monsters that want the book to do harm. Ever since The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter films have done so well, filmmakers are taking other fantasy books and turning them into feature films as well. The majority of them that have been released over the past few years I have not seen because for one thing they did not look appealing to me at all and also because of bad word of mouth and reviews. I wasn't sure what I would think of The Spiderwick Chronicles, but to my surprise I thought it was pretty good. The film is aimed at a family audience even though some young children might be afraid of some scenes, but this is a film that I think kids will absolutely love and there is enough here for the grownups as well. The story sounds simple enough, but it is enhanced by a lot of creative creatures and imaginative things going on. The young cast each did their own and carried the film and even though I don't usually like computer generated effects in films, I didn't feel it was overdone here just for the sake of showing what today's new wonderful technology can do and I really appreciated that the film didn't go overboard with that. The running time moves along fairly briskly and the film is involving and interesting from the start and keeps it's energy and charm throughout the running time. There were a few repeated story patterns and clichés in the script, but there were also a lot of surprises and new takes on things, so that can be forgiven. When looking at a film like this at a child you would like the magic, imagination and the story that is woven in front of you with interesting characters, environments and a grand sense of storytelling that can make the make believe into a fun and entertaining film. This is all captured very well here and works as a fairy tale for kids 8 to whatever age. A creative enough story helped by good film-making and an eye for what kids and adults love about these movies make this film a generally good and above average family fantasy film of the past few years.
85 out of 107 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Although The Spiderwick Chronicles did fall short in comparison to other films in the same genre, it did offer some fun entertainment for the entire family.
trench-415 February 2008
Although The Spiderwick Chronicles did fall short in comparison to other films in the same genre, it did offer some fun entertainment for the entire family.

Being a fan of most fantasy novels and films, I had the wonderful opportunity to read through the entire series last year and was actually looking forward to its adaptation on the big screen.

What surprised me the most was actually the length of the film. It was fairly short (90 minutes) and I felt that the producers made a huge mistake by attempting to cram all five books into one film instead of dividing them into separate features. I had recognized a few of the scenes from the books, but overall it seemed very rushed and excluded many of the series most exciting moments. Any fan of the books would probably be disappointed in the way the series was handled and executed.

As for the rest of film, I thought it was well done. The CGI continues to be to focal point in most of these types of family films and the producers spent a great time with its detail and design. The fairies looked neat, the goblins were frightening, and the big bad ogre looked well… big and bad.

Overall, I would say this film would make for a great matinée on a Sunday with the kids. There are several moments that may scare children under the age of five, but otherwise it should appeal to children of all ages.
46 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Bird! Bird! Bird!
DancefloorTerrorist10 March 2008
Went to a UK preview tonight and this completely took me by surprise. A brilliant fantasy adventure which retains it's dignity and doesn't sell out for a cute Disney style box office attack.

The issues in it were quite good and realistic and it wasn't necessarily 'happy ever after' in the end. The scripting and the style of the piece reminded me of 'The Princess Bride'- although this is more of an action adventure than a comedy.

Well worth seeing, and there doesn't seem to have been much 'hollywood tailoring' such as there was with the Golden compass and Narnia...

As to the monsters / fairies- they were very well done indeed, quite believable considering they were computer generated.

Well worth seeing, but I have the feeling it won't get as much publicity as the usual run of the mill children's movie...

Why do I keep saying children's movie when I am 34?
61 out of 76 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Loved it
lwluvgod9 March 2008
I truly wasn't expecting much from this movie goon in but it was the only family movie available to watch with my 5 and 3 year old. I figured that because it wasn't a cartoon I'd have to deal with squirming bottoms and talking. But to my amazement the movie was not only entertaining to both of my boys (NO SQUIRMING!!!) both my husband and I loved it. My husband wouldn't even get a refill on the popcorn----and believe me that doesn't happen often!!!! I have nothing negative to say about the film. Some might think it's a little too scarry for younger kids but neither one of mine were scarred. A couple of times I had to explain some things to my 5 year old. The head goblin is kind of scarry looking; but not too bad.
61 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Comparing to Harry Potter...
trevorfonvergne28 February 2008
This is being compared to Harry Potter? That is completely ridiculous. Some idiotic critics are saying "This movie isn't like Harry Potter, therefore, it's terrible" This movie is an amazing example of a fantasy movie, and one that doesn't cut much out, unlike Harry Potter. This movie has great acting, especially by the dual-part playing Freddie Highmore, who loses his British accent quite convincingly. Also, Sarah Bolger and Mary-Louise Parker do superb jobs with their acting considering it's mostly a four-person cast. (Excluding voice overs) The special effects alone are amazing. If you don't like this movie, you have to admit, the special effects were amazing. If there were a sequel, I would most definitely see it as long as it has the same actors, special effects team, and director.
99 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
AMAZING Kid's Movie!
jennifernyc200317 February 2008
Don't listen to all those 'know it alls' who say the book is better then the movie, so therefore, this movie isn't any good. This was a GREAT movie! Obviously you can't fit a whole book into a kid length movie - so they do the best they can and this was WILDLY successful! It was a fun, suspenseful movie that engages you from the beginning. I went with my 9 year old daughter and she LOVED IT! I haven't seen such a good children's movie in a long, long time! It's a MUST SEE! If your child is easily scared then this may not be the movie for them. While I don't view it as a scary movie - the goblins and action might be startling for sensitive kids.
61 out of 85 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Their World Is Closer Than You Think
moviewizguy15 February 2008
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.

I've made up a theory: People who have read books that are turned into movies will be more harsh to judge the films unlike people who see movies without reading the book. I think this theory is right. I was disappointed by Harry Potter 5 at first, but watching it now for a year later and nearly forgetting about the book, I found it the best in the series.

The same might as well go with this film. I was disappointed. If you don't know, this film is based on 5 books. However, the movie ignores the 4th book, which is probably because of budget issues and/or limited running time. Still, I can't help but complain. There could've been more creative production designs to see, more action, and more magical creatures.

Apart from that, I felt that the film was well put together, especially the fact that they skipped a lot in the books. The special effects are very good, as well as the action scenes. I also may feel this film pushed the PG rating. It certainly is not as intense as Harry Potter 3 but there might be about 2 to 3 scenes that could make this film a PG-13 rating.

The performances here are decent, although not captivating. The film may be a bit fast paced, if you asked me. Overall, this is a decent adaption to another fantasy book. If you have read the books, you might be disappointed. If you have not, enjoy it.
42 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Special-Effects Make It Fun
ccthemovieman-121 August 2008
This is another of those fantasy films that serves its purpose in that it entertains, no matter what the age. It's not among the elite in its genre, but it is a story that hooks you in by the 20-minute mark and you just go along for the ride, mainly to see how things will turn out.

There is good suspense in here, enough to make adults care about what happens, not just kids. There also are some scary scenes that are probably too much for small kids, but fine for teens on up. In all, you get a good mix of horror, comedy, fantasy and drama all rolled into one odd (fantasy) story.

Child acting star Freddie Highmore, who seems to get cast in a lot of these fantasies (Charlie And The Chocolate Family," "August Rush," "Arthur And The Invisibles," and "The Golden Compass") has a dual role in here, playing brothers "Jared"and "Simon Grace." Freddie is a fine actor, so no problem in that department. I hate to hear child actors, using God's name as exclamations, though, but that's not Highmore's doing. The only other annoyance is the frequent shouting with an older sister. However, once the adventure kicks into high gear, the arguing stops as the kids try to solve their major dilemma as a unit.

Nick Nolte plays the big villain, "Mulgarath." but his role is surprisingly small. It's all those ugly, nasty little creatures who surround the house, who are the "bad guys." There are a number of somewhat scary scenes involving them, enough to entertain the post-pre-adolescent crowd.

The star of the film isn't Freddie or the actors, or the story.....it's the special-effects, which are very good and a lot of fun to watch, from little beings to monsters to fairies to whatever. I saw this on Blu-Ray and it really looks good. All of it is very colorful and entertaining to view, making this a film fun for both kids and adults.
23 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
It's no bedtime story.
jdesando19 February 2008
Spiderwick Chronicles is a dark delight of Harry Potter-type goblins, ghouls, and griffins with violence enough to make it a howler for the nine year old but a sleepless night for the seven.

Arthur Spiderwick decades ago wrote a private field guide to faeries, a much sought after tome by gremlins who hate them.

Besides the usual CGI gymnastics is the now common dad-is-gone-by-divorce-and-mom-is–frazzled motif, along with the usual nobody-believes-me-but-I-can-see-them suspense builder. The production design of the old mansion is Psycho-worthy, and the ever serviceable James Horner provides the right chilling music.

Not to be missed, however, is the shape-shifting leader of the baddies played by Nick Nolte, whose freaked out visage eclipses the shock of his infamous California mug shot.
36 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
… revs up that 'inner child' in all of us!
janyeap2 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A movie that will definitely plunge the audience –young and old - into plenty of film-watching fun with its strange and fantastical mysteries, challenges, unpredictable chills and thrills. Examine the Spiderwick Estate with its crumbling mansion that the three Grace children and their mother must now consider as 'home'. Yep, a mansion that seems more like a haunted house whispering to be explored, and one where invisible eyes seems to watch or stalk at every corner. Yet, there's more these family members must need to confront than just a spooky home. The film's introduction to David Stratham's Arthur does give subtle hints of the horrifying events to come, but only its ending will eventually expose the dark secrets, not only of their family heritage, but of the family's burden. Yep this film does have abundance of twists and turns to keep the audience emotionally glued to the screen.

Watching Freddie Highmore slip into the roles of the twins, Jared and Simon, is simply astounding. The film does focus on Jared's rebelliously thoughtless and unpredictable character… yep, his uncontrollable fits and tempers, his raging and bold independence, and his unwillingness to cooperate nature, so marvelously molded into the story as in Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's book series, offering credible connection to the story's characters and eventful occurrences. I had expected the supporting actors to play fiddle to to the prominence of the main character, yet here, it's Highmore's Jared who seems to hold the support for the need and purpose of the rest of the characters. The talented young actor exhibits that fabulously well. Just observe how his despair gets from bad to worse to provoke the other characters' reactions and to win over the audience's compassion in seeing him as the victim of injustice! Yep, Highmore does lash out his two roles with perfect treatment to reveal the differences in traits and personalities. Well done, Highmore! This movie does give a good summary of the book series without going chronically to a tee, nor does it exactly flush out everything that follows in the series. Yet, the main substances are present, cleverly crafted to keep everything dancing and integrated in spectacularly satisfying momentum and perspective for the film version. Director Mark Waters has successfully flashed out even the boggarts' emotional traits and temperaments that are common to Simon's… very much in line with the book series. Book fans of the Spiderwick Chronicles will especially be delighted to see Arthur Rackham's book illustrations of Thimbletack, the faerie creatures, Mulgarath the ogre and his ferociously evil goblins, and even the griffin and Hogsqueal, come alive on the screen. The voices of all the characters are well articulated, succeeding in generating audience appeal and interactions throughout, and the scenes are at well-defined pacing to keep the audience's adrenalin flowing. Watch out for the very brief live-cameo take of Nick Nolte who provides the voice of Mulgarath. A unique list of intriguing characters presented by a well selected team of performers! A great, fun and excitement-filled family film, but there exists some really scary and violent visual moments. Parents should take heed when making decisions to bring kids under 8 to see it. It did trigger off some of those memorable highlights of films, like Jumanji, the Harry Potter and Narnia film series without being condescending in its approach. I was fully swept into it and, oh yes, I love it!
30 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Not a reader of the books..
baldhome9 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I really have waited to be one of those guys who say "I saw this movie at a sneak preview" as we don't get them very often in Nashville but on this nice Saturday, I was very much into the story as a 27 year old male but I am a constant watcher of films. I would probably put it more in the 13 and under range-it wasn't very scary but did have a few frights in it. The magical creatures were nowhere near to the fear factor as "Lord of the Rings" but a little more so than the ones from "The Chronicles of Narnia".

My favorite part was when I finally realized who the voice of Hogsqueal was and then I wondered why they chose Seth Rogen to do that part because it all made sense in the end with one great scene (spoiler alert?). Freddie Highmore was great and I am quickly becoming a fan and it was nice to see Mary Louise Parker doing her thing as I think she is very underrated.

Go check it out. I'd probably say it's more of one to watch for a matinée than late night for your money's work. It did seem to be maybe even a bit too short so I guess that's positive for the movie, right? "No Country for Old Men" for Oscar Gold
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Horror movie for kids masquerading as a book series adaptation
culbeda7 July 2014
Other than the names of the characters and the house, this bore almost no resemblance to the books. Compressing 5 books totaling almost 600 (sparse) pages into 95 minutes IS a challenge, but this "adaptation" sucked the soul from the series and turned it into a mini-horror movie for kids.

If you have young kids, skip the movie and read the books. They're a quick read and offer so much more entertainment, imagination and wonder than this movie did.

Things you'll find in the books that you won't find here: Characters that aren't complete jerks, mystery, a sense of adventure, more existing creatures and far more interesting challenges.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Something is wrong with this movie
mmafio30 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
First, I'm surprised that most negative reviews (<5 rating) are only from viewers that know the books (or at least one), cause the movie is not good for itself. IMHO one of the biggest mistakes are the characters of the kids. I don't know the book but I can't imagine the children were introduced like this in the original in terms of character development. Whiny, hateful, aggressive, etc... and NO, the breakup of their parents doesn't explain it at all. At least not at this intensity.

After the first half-hour I was really like "meeeh, don't care what happens with them". Another thing that added to that was the bad acting (but the adults were not better at all). Maybe that's a subjective matter, but I know a lot of movies with child actors and even Freddie Highmore, had seen him playing better in other movies so maybe the reason is to find in the script or directing. Then the seemingly repetitive fighting, where they could had better invest some time in developing the characters, story or the world about the spiderwicks (I read in the commentaries there are five books, so source material shouldn't have been the problem). All in all, the beginning (about the book = 1P) and a few good new ideas here and there (another point) are the only reasons for me to give it 3/10 in the end.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Be warned, this movie is scary!
LordSam-216 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
First, the good parts. Amazing special effects, of course. They double cast Freddie Highmore flawlessly, so much that people who didn't know it were shocked. Additionally, my kids read the books and said it was an impressive adaptation of all five (!) of the books. Having not read them myself, the movie still felt coherent without missing any parts.

I can't recommend it highly, on the basis of its being far too violent, and sometimes downright gory. Now, I'm not a puritan; I like horror movies and my family likes action movies. But the violence was a little too close-up and the monsters too real for a movie described as a family film. We saw close-ups of cut-open eyes and exploded heads. My ten year old walked away disturbed and my three year old (I thought it would be okay by the trailers) spent most of the time with his head underneath my coat. This movie should have been PG-13.

Action can be good, even thrilling. Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Narnia all had great family friendly action scenes. The difference, I realized after thinking about it, is that all of the action in this movie was desperate. Not thrilling, just outnumbered, and kind of awful. When the good guys do win, it's sudden and almost random, so you feel less like cheering and more like just unclenching your teeth, glad that it's over.

In addition, the non-action scenes weren't fun either. The dialogue outside the action scenes was almost entirely the family being angry at each other. There may be two laughs in the whole movie. Even the "good" magical creatures had a kind of sinister look to them. There wasn't a lot to *enjoy* here. You may walk out of the theater saying the movie was "amazing" or "exciting," but you won't be able to say that it was "fun."
29 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Not so enjoyable
Gordon-111 August 2008
This film is about a young boy discovering a book in a secret room, which is sought after by magical creatures.

I am afraid I did not enjoy "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Though the magical creatures are convincingly made by computer graphics, the plot is not interesting or engaging. The constant battles between bad creatures and humans do not add more thrill and suspense, but become tiring and repetitive. The two twins are annoying in the film, but the most annoying thing is that there is so much fuss about this book! The addition of the scenes geared towards adult viewers, such as the subplot about love and parental separation, are not so engaging at all. It is in fact better been left out, so that the film is more focused.

I thought it was a kids' story, but it is far too dark and violent to be enjoyed as a light hearted story. I am surprised that kids would like this and not get scared.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Clearly a "family" movie; but very well done!
bopdog15 February 2008
Spiderwick does not quite have the same "meatiness" and joy for adults that the recent "The Golden Compass" possessed. Nonethlesless, it was a pleasant evening at the cinema, after a long work week at the uni. I suspect that 'Tweeners and mid-teen types will find it just about their level, and perhaps some mature-ish children will find it thrilling and a rousing adventure.

Adults will like it too. I did. It was colourful, well acted, and interesting. Again, though, I point out that I wanted escapist diversion! In terms of heavy philosophical critiquing, which may not even be fair here, this movie was a bit more meaningful than "Harry Potter,' which although I know millions loved it, it didn't really mean anything. There were no archetypal human dynamics. Nothing "spoke" to us on the level of our Spirit or our inner Self. "Spiederwick Chronicles" had more than that; it did mean something. But it was not quite up to the superb and masterfully meaningful level of some films that appeal to kids and their parents (even the classic "Dumbo" had more meaning, in a funny way, as did the "Shrek" movies). Go! Take the kiddies. Enjoy!
15 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Evil Steals the Book
tedg29 March 2008
John Sayles has never let me down before. But he surely has this time with this wildly tepid movie.

I suppose there are so many child-magic "save the world" movies because kids are really easy to please.

But you have to have several things for these to work. You have to have charming kids. You need to have some unique imagination in the creatures or the forces they operate under. And you need to have basic narrative shape to the thing.

This has none of that.

Now this may just be my experience, because I made the mistake of seeing it in Imax, and when things get bigger you expect the spaces to be filled. This is gremlins meets Potter kids lite.

I went to it, in fact blew most of a day to get to it, because of Sayles. His cinematics are a bit stagebound for my tastes, but knows how to shape things so that you go somewhere. Waters, the director has done some poor work recently, but his first film (House of Yes) really impressed me. That was based on a play and used the same stagecraft preferred by Sayles. So I thought we'd get something both tasty and nourishing.

Alas, neither. What do parents think? That you can scrimp on children's imagination and narrative sense and not have them suffer?

I suppose a bright parent could say that the story was about stealing a book with lessons in it, and the book was destroyed.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
A silly rural sort of fantasy « gremlins » (tv)
leplatypus27 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In the XXIth, it's no more a surprise to see a exploded family : this one is without a father and i suppose i should go along. Then, we go into a country manor lost in the woods and that is rather unexpected. This old house is rather well done as it reminds me of my parents' one due to its antic furniture's ! Next, the supernatural comes in and for a time, it's rather interesting : we have got a sort of a tiny mouse turning green and bad like the Hulk and above all rural, forest entities (ogre, goblin) ! It's a bit like we have Tolkien's fantasy coming into our actual modern love but then it's the point when the movie turns really bad !

First, i know that those creatures are evil but it's hard to see teens acting like soldiers and one more time killing the bad guys ! Maybe i'm wrong but in my childhood, teens were more intelligent and peaceful when confronted and never used killing as a way to escape ! Next, we goes into a sort of faerie land to know about the fate of the ancestor : having this character back in the movie is really bad as we have a granny crying for her much younger father ! One more time, we have a single parent family and more time the child is tied in Oedipus stage as this only parents mean so much ! At last, we have the big finale which is the usual big fight, big violent moment and the movie falls down even lower with the scene of the boy stabbing his « father » ! It's like the remake of Snow White in which she stabbed the Evil Queen ! I found this scene totally inappropriate and really damaging for children education ! With the crazy world we live actually, i don't think it's sane to entertain our children with movies that praises violence, that depict themselves spilling blood and killing parental images !

So, at the end, this movie really stenches as we are left only with brave little soldiers, happy to kill the bad ones and living alone blissfully with one single parent !
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
The Scatter-Brain Chronicles.
anaconda-406584 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008): Dir: Mark Waters / Cast: Freddie Highmore, Mary Louise Parker, Sarah Bolger, David Strathairn, Andrew McCarhty: This is one of the most idiotic big budget movies since Wild Wild West. The plot has all the excitement of burnt toast. A family moves into a big house where a magical book is discovered by a boy, played by Freddie Highmore. It was written by his great uncle and can unleash evil creatures. That sounds like a great thing to leave for one's family. Why not just leave them a very large check and save them the headache. Director Mark Waters does his best but he really should go back to what worked for him. Mean Girls worked as one of the best of teen flicks that its target audience can relate to. With Spiderwick Chronicles he revisits the stupidity of Head Over Heels and that is a major scale backwards. This film has a whole family of morons. When told not to take the book outside the house, Highmore does so not once, but twice. That's a prime example of a kid who uses no common sense. Mary Louise Parker has the thankless role of mother-who-doesn't-listen-to-kids-and-yells-a-lot role. Sarah Bolger is given the embarrassing role of sword fighter sister. Finally there is David Strathairn as the senile uncle who comes off as if he walked onto the wrong film set. Despite fine visual elements, this film should be destroyed alongside the book. Score: 2 / 10
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Scary supposed children's fantasy film...
dwpollar8 June 2009
1st watched 6/4/2009 – 4 out of 10 (Dir – Mark Waters): Scary supposed children's fantasy film was really pretty much a horror flick with fantasy characters thrown in. A real disappointment, in my opinion, because they focused on the kids in terror aspect instead of allowing us to understand the fantasy world a little bit better instead of jolting us for 90 minutes. The basic storyline revolves around a troubled family that movie into an old house and find a book that is(guess what…) not supposed to be opened!! And, of course, one of the Freddie Highmore characters( he plays a dual role of American speaking twins) opens it and all hell breaks loose in the fantasy world. The book was written by a man named Spiderwick 80 years earlier and tells of the unseen world and all of it's secrets. An evil character wants the book and a protective character, voiced by Martin Short, tries to explain the scenario to the child. The rest of the movie, the kids are pursued by the evil forces and their goal is to not be killed by it and kill it, of course. Sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it?? Anyway, the last 15 minutes are good but getting there is not fun. This movie was based on a series of books but I find it hard to believe that the series boiled down to this action piece. In my opinion, this was Hollywood's attempt to make it marketable and it doesn't work. Too bad, because I'm sure this movie disappointed many adults and the kids they brought in to see it.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Too many changes from the books.
fjhampson15 February 2008
If you have read the books you surely have waited with great anticipation for the release of "The Spiderwick Chronicles." Well dear reader, there are no Elves, no Fairy Grass, no Phooka, no fencing competition and no nursing a Griffon back to health in the garage.

What remains is a much stripped down version of the basic storyline about protecting Great Uncle Arthur's book. It seems to me that film makers are now way more consumed with displaying what can be done with CGI that story telling must be sacrificed. If you haven't read the books you'll probably enjoy it, if you have ADHD you'll be able to follow the simplistic story.

There was a great movie to be made here about siblings coming together.

In the movie it seems all tense encounters with unfamiliar people must be handled with violence. I know that not everything from a book can be put on the screen but to change the element of battling wits against the Troll to scream, stab, squish, seemed like a cop out to appeal to the simple viewer. Way too much changed or ignored. A huge disappointment. In the words of my 6 year old son, "What happened to the Dwarfs and their mechanical dogs?"
12 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Childish fantasy film, a bit too juvenile for my liking.
poolandrews19 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Spiderwick Chronicles starts as single mother Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) & her two twin boys Simon & Jared (both played by Freddie Highmore) & her teenage daughter Mallory (Sarah Bolger) arrive at the old rundown country house left to her by her great-great grandfather Arthur Piderwick (David Strathairn) who mysteriously disappeared eighty years ago. As soon as the family move in strange things start to happen, objects start to go missing & Jared hears noises in the wall. Jared explores the house & finds a secret attic where he also finds a leather bound book written by Arthur Spiderwick with warnings not to open or read it but Jared does anyway. Titled 'Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You' the book is a collection of all known information compiled by Spiderwick about magical creatures like faeries, trolls & goblins that exist all around us but are invisible to humans. An evil Orge named Mulgarath wants the book in order learn it's secrets & take over the world...

Directed by Mark Waters this childish fantasy film was obviously made on the back of other successful epic fantasy adventures based on books such as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter & The Chronicles of Narnia & for me wasn't anything special & as an adult didn't really appeal to me all that much. Thus far there has been five Spiderwick Chronicle books written by Holly Black & illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi beginning with The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide (2003), to be honest before watching The Spiderwick Chronicles I had no idea it was based on a series of books & this simply failed to capture my imagination. The main human character's are dull, the kid with anger problems who seems to want to feel sorry for himself all the time & want everyone else to feel sorry for him get on my nerves, the mother has little screen time while the sister & brother are merely there to get into trouble & help out occasionally. The creatures are alright but the bad guy's are defeated a bit too easily (including one of the worst send offs for a main villain ever) while the friendly creatures are mostly played for (failed) laughs & I just found the whole affair rather bland going, at an hour & a half it moves along at a reasonable pace but it's pretty repetitive & it's a little bit too safe as the character's are never put in much peril & the evil monsters never seemed to pose much threat or menace. As well as a rather complicated fantasy based plot the script tries to raise a few social issues like how parent separation affects children, anger management issues & trust but it never made made much of a meaningful impact for me. I suppose The Spiderwick Chronicles might appeal to younger kids but the cuteness of it, the safeness & predictability of it made it a bit of a chore for me to sit through & there's a horribly sentimental happy ever after ending that I could have done without. Overall The Spiderwick Chronicles is alright if your under seven years old but maybe it's not one for the adults, like me.

With a predictably big budget one would expect spectacular CGI effects work & while it's alright it never amazes, there's a huge flying Griffin which looks good & the Ogre Mulgarath in his true form at the end looks good too but otherwise all the creatures are quite cuddly & cute with maybe a line in toy's in mind. The CGI is alright but never outstanding, while watching The Spiderwick Chronicles I didn't have a clue that both Jared & Simon were played by the same actor which I presume meant the makers uses CGI & split screen techniques to have them both on the screen together.

With a supposed budget of about $90,000,000 I am sure the studio was thinking about a possible series but I doubt there will be anymore, or at least anymore mega budget Hollywood productions. Filmed in Montréal in Québec in Canada, the production values are glossy & polished as one would expect. The acting is alright, nothing special but alright with Nick Nolte making a small cameo appearance.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a typical childish fantasy epic that didn't work for me, the effects are alright but not amazing & the plot failed to capture my imagination which was the real killer. Not terrible if your under ten but not very good either & any adults out there might want to just leave the kids to watch it on their own.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Great family movie, ages 6 to 39!
tracykreck8 March 2008
Our family of 4 went to see this tonight, and loved it! Not too scary for our 6 year old son, and interesting enough for our 12 year old daughter and for us (37 and 39.) Great plot & storyline. Special effects were not too cheesy--and easy enough to fall into believing. It was the perfect length; we were mesmerized yet it didn't finish to fast. Definitely worth the $30 for tickets and $20 for snacks. And I am sure we will eventually purchase the DVD when it comes out. This is a great Part 1, hope that Part 2 is as entertaining! This was a wonderful fantasy-- loved the 'pet' and the great aunt and too many things to list!
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed