Movie Details

The SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries, hobgoblins, brownies and ogres.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 13 Mar 2008
Genre: Family / Science Fiction
Running Time: 1 Hour 36 Minutes
Distributor: UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES
Cast: Seth Rogen
Director:
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Nor Inayah Ariffin

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Watch this if you liked: "The Chronicles of Narnia", "The Labyrinth" and "Jumanji".

Although "The Spiderwick Chronicles" appears to moviegoers to be jumping on the Potter and Narnia bandwagon, it manages to hold its own, whether or not it's as faithful to the stories by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

The story takes place in New England, United States, where young twins Simon and Jared and their older sister Mallory move into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate left to them by their great-aunt, Lucinda. They discover a field guide to faeries written by the house's previous owner Arthur Spiderwick and soon begin to realise that secret creatures like brownies and faeries really do exist! Mulgarath, a shape-shifting ogre, wants the field guide for himself and attacks the children in an attempt to obtain it. Thimbletack, the brownie assigned by Arthur Spiderwick himself to guard the field guide, and a filthy-looking but likeable hobgoblin named Hogsqueal, help them defeat the evil ogre.

All the cast members do pretty well in this movie and nothing feels contrived in the relationships between the twins, their sister and their mother. Freddie Highmore does a marvelous job portraying the twins, with an authentic American accent (he's British), reminding me of what Lindsay Lohan did in "The Parent Trap" (1998). To be a child actor capable of delivering such a performance allows Highmore to truly hold his own among his older cast members, and then some. He convincingly plays two very different personalities and deals well with the interaction between them. The voiceovers of the non-human characters are also extremely well done. Nick Nolte as Mulgarath in both human and ogre form is frightening, even more so than his infamous mug shots. Certainly, his human form looks creepier, as the ogre version looks a little bit like a bloated version of the Grinch that stole Christmas.

However, the film's best feature is in its creative design, which transforms it into a veritable feast for the eyes. From the real, live action aspects such as the costumes, scenery and photography to the computer-generated characters and special effects; everything looks magical and believable at the same time. The faeries are absolutely stunning, the Sylphs magical and the Goblins repulsive, but more spectacular than any of the characters is the realm of the Sylphs. It is such a wonderful-looking, mesmerising place that pulls you deeper into the world of fantasy. The cinematography captures and conveys the beauty of fantasy extremely well and makes the film like a buffet for hungry eyes.

"The Spiderwick Chronicles" does appear to borrow from its predecessors, but it manages to better them by not being condescending in its approach. It is also more resolute and works as a standalone story rather than needing a continuation like many others out there. At the end of the day, it is a perfect family film with a lot of fun, adventure and magic for young and old. Even if you don't dig fantasy, the special effects of the film alone will blow you away.

Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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