Evelyn GoughIn the Picture
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Directed by Mark Waters
Its that time again, school holidays, and there are some fantastic kids movies screening right now. Guaranteed to have the little darlings glued to their seats is the magical Spiderwick Chronicles based on the childrens fantasy series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.
Its the story of twins Jared and Simon Grace (both played by Freddie Highmore of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame), their older sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and their recently separated mother (Mary-Louise Parker) who has just inherited a creepy looking Victorian mansion in the country from her great aunt Lucinda (Joan Plowright). Everybody thinks great aunt Lucy is nuts and shes been put in a mental institution because all her life shes been telling people that her father was abducted by fairies.
Guess what? Turns out he was! Eighty years ago her dad, Arthur Spiderwick, (David Strathairn) wrote The Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, a book so full of magical secrets the shape-shifting ogre Mulgarath (a really scary looking Nick Nolte) would do anything to possess it. Even if that means killing anyone or anything that gets in his way.
To ensure the books safety Spiderwick hid it in the attic, surrounded the house with a protective circle and entrusted the house goblin Thimbletack (Martin Short) with its care.
All well and good for 80 years. Then the Grace family moved in!
One thing you will not be is bored at this movie. The action begins the minute Jared and his family move into Aunt Lucindas spooky looking mansion and it never lets up. In fact be warned. Really little kids could find this too scary.
Im not always a fan of computer-generated imagery (CGI) but the filmmakers have used it to great effect in The Spiderwick Chronicles. Not only are all the goblins, ogres, brownies, etc, etc, totally believable you really cannot tell that Jared and Simon are played by the same boy. And guess what the movies special effects guys used to model the evil goblins on? The ugliest of pests, the cane toad.
What is truly unbelievable is that Nick Nolte was once considered the sexiest man alive! Yikes! Let that be a warning to you kids. Dont do drugs!
I love a well-made fantasy adventure and The Spiderwick Chronicles does not disappoint. Its exciting, action-packed and heart-warming. Freddie Highmore is terrific yet again and the rest of the cast are great too. This is school holiday entertainment at its best.