Sunday, March 4, 2012

Movie Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles

First off, I haven’t read the books yet, but now I really want to. This was an excellent movie. It had its weak points but for the most part it makes for a good fantasy film.

Mallory, Jared, and Simon Grace have just moved into an old house their mother inherited. They soon find a book written by the original owner of the house, their great great uncle Arthur Spiderwick. The book is a bestiary of supernatural creatures that live unseen parallel our world. His daughter claimed he was abducted by faeries; however, she was taken to an insane asylum. But then they discover that Arthur Spiderwick was right, and they soon find the evil ogre Mulgurath wants the book for himself, so he can take over the faery world.

The combination of traditional folklore and new additions to faery lore make for a very interesting world, and the designs of the supernatural creatures are very creative. The acting was pretty good overall as well. Freddie Highmore was fighting his accent tooth and nail, and did good for someone acting two very different parts. Jared was a very pushy boy with a sulk and an anger issue. Simon is a laid back pacifist who hates conflict. The actress who plays Mallory actually played a very believable teenager. Not whiny and melodramatically angsty, but definitely going through the teenage cage stage while trying to be the responsible one in the family. Sometimes with the mom it felt as though either the actress or the script was trying too hard to be “Reasonable!Mother”, but the focus of the movie was not really on her.

Sometimes the effects seem a bit pretentious too, mainly when they try to throw in unnecessary slow-mo. Overall, however, they were colorful and vibrant.

The best thing about this movie is that it can appeal to a wide demographic. Younger kids will like the fairy tale aspect, older kids will relate to the characters, who are in the preteen to teen ages, and adults will be entertained, even if this isn’t their cup of tea.

And, of course, let’s not forget the Obvious Christian Imagery. Such as getting spit in your eyes to be able to see the supernatural, Arthur Spiderwick being taken away and promising to return (and more that will definitely count as spoilers)…

And to add to its appeal for me given my recent Lovecraft obsession, the backstory seems very Lovecraftian. A scholarly fellow discovers there is more to this life than what we see, begins recording his observations on this, but winds up awakening evil and mysteriously disappears.

I would give this a 3 out of 5. It’s not particularly deep, but it’s a ripping good yarn and very entertaining.

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