THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES 2-Disc Field Guid Edition|
Written by Jason Flick
June 24, 2008
Will Be Revealed
Once this Package
I will say that I was a little wary about The Spiderwick Chronicles at first. I know firsthand that most films with the Nickelodeon logo are in a word…laughable and I don’t mean in a good way. Can you say Good Burger? Now erase that name from your vocabulary of the rest of your natural born life before we continue on with this review. Is it gone? Excellent, let’s begin.
The film starts out with the viewer meeting Arthur Spiderwick, a professor who lives in his massive estate with his daughter Lucinda. We get a glimpse of the book that he has been working on his entire life. But unlike many books this book entitled “Arthur’s Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You,” is filled with the secrets of the fairies, trolls, and hobgoblins. This very book is being sought after by the Evil Ogre Mulgarath and his minions of goblins. To protect the book, Arthur seals it and locks it up in a chest in the attic of his estate. He also puts up a protective circle made of toadstools to further protect the book.
Jumping 80 years into the future, we meet the Grace family as the roll up the path to the Spiderwick Estate. After the disappearance of Arthur and the mental hospitalization of his daughter, the house was given to Helen Grace so she and her children Jared, Simon and Mallory could live there. Simon and Jared are twins that are polar opposites and Mallory is the older sister that is pretty handy with a saber.
Jared soon after hearing noises in the house starts to investigate and puts his already stressed mother to the edge of her nerves. It isn’t too long before Jared stumbles upon the Field Guide and the trouble soon follows. Mysterious things start happening and Jared must convince his family that there are other forces at play inside the house and that he is not doing them.
After Simon is captured by the goblins, Jared with the help of the rhyming brownie Thimbletack must save him. We get our first glimpse of Mulgarath and of the Grace’s somewhat reliable ally, Hogssqueal. After narrowly escaping the ogre and his goblins the twins make it back to the house. Only Mallory is unaware of the threat and is soon attacked by the goblins. After an awesome sword fighting scene by Mallory, both siblings believe Jared’s story and set to end things once and for all.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fantasy story at its heart and follows in the footsteps of films like the Chronicles of Narnia, The Bridge to Terabithia, and The NeverEnding Story. The Spiderwick Chronicles like the Chronicles of Narnia are based off a series of books. However unlike Narnia the authors of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black got their inspiration from a family that says that they witnessed many of the things you will see in this film or had read in the books.
The most unique thing about both the film and the books is that the story is set in modern times. Most of the stories that children grow up reading are about fantasy adventures in old, medieval times. Most of these films also take place in places like England and the sort but this film unlike the films before it is set in the United States.
I must say with a certain level of sadness that I have never read The Spiderwick Chronicles. I actually had never heard of them until the film was nearing completion and to be soon released in the theaters. On a positive note, I will say that The Spiderwick Chronicles is by far one of the coolest fantasy films that I have seen in a long time. Like I said I had my doubts on whether or not I would like it at first. I had heard many people saying that it was the next Chronicles of Narnia and that it was such a fantastic film. All I can say is that they were right.
The Spiderwick Chronicles also brings something not commonly seen in fantasy films these days. It brings real life issues and the issues of the fairy world together to create an adventure for all ages. The last film I remember watching that brings these two basic elements together nicely was The NeverEnding Story back in 1984. Both the main characters having to deal with their own real life problems, and help the creatures of a co-existing world fend off an ever pressing evil force. The Spiderwick Chronicles is a true tale of Good versus Evil and a fantastic film from start to finish.
I have to mention something else that was drawn to my attention upon reviewing this DVD set. It never occurred to me that Freddy was playing a double role in this film. Upon finding that out I have to the English actor some serious credit. It’s hard enough to portray two characters in the same film, but even harder to portray two American characters in the same film. The same can be said of Sarah Bolger, an Irish actor who pulls off an amazingly believable American accent in her portrayal of Mallory Grace.
I’m usually one of those people that read the books first, and then go see the movie that they are born from. Most of the time that is usually a bad idea as you go into the movie expecting more than what you actually end up getting. This time around it was the opposite. I’m actually going to have to go find the books and read them now.
For now all I can say that this movie just works. If The Spiderwick Chronicles was something that someone had just created in their head and started making a film of it I wouldn’t have cared a bit. Everything clicks in place in this evenly paced adventure.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is that all of the creatures in it are modeled after things found in the real world. The sprites were modeled after various flowers and insects in some occasions. The goblins were developed from several different frogs form all over the world. I also like the amount of detail that was put into the troll’s design. The way they incorporated its natural habitat into is body, such as grass and rocks, was truly amazing.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is presented in 5.1 Surround Sound and sounds pretty amazing. It may not have the lossless quality that is heard in the Blu-Ray version of this film but its still really good. The score is just amazing and worthy of complementing the visuals of this film.