[DVD REVIEW]Kids’ movie gets a bit too adult

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[DVD REVIEW]Kids’ movie gets a bit too adult


Hogsqueal and Jared (Freddie Highmore) spy on wicked creatures. [MovieWeb]

With the successes of fantasy books-turned-movies such as “Harry Potter,” Hollywood has produced plenty of movies in the genre. Fantasy movies have gotten over audience prejudices that they are only for children, and have become blockbusters in their own right.

“The Spiderwick Chronicles,” originally a series of fantasy books written by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, has director Mark Waters at the helm. It’s one of those kids’ movies adults can also enjoy. Although not as sophisticated as “The Lord of the Rings” or Harry Potter, its special effects and cast certainly compete.

Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) and her three children, Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and twin boys Jared and Simon (both played by Freddie Highmore) move into an old mansion called Spiderwick. It was named after a distant relative, Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn), and used to be owned by his daughter Lucinda (Joan Plowright), who is now cloistered in a sanitarium.

Defiant and disgruntled, our hero Jared is regarded as a troublemaker by his mother and siblings since he cannot accept that he has to live apart from his father. What is worse, Jared gets blamed for every happening at Spiderwick. While trying to get to the bottom of the mysterious incidents, Jared discovers a book, a guide to the faerie world, written by Arthur Spiderwick 80 years ago.

Thanks to its thrilling scenes that feature constant action and tension, adults will enjoy this movie too. The chase scenes involving monsters and the children are as gory and suspenseful as those in other fantasy movies. Some scenes might scare young children, even if their effect is somewhat weakened by the use of green rather than red blood.

Also, it’s not appropriate for children to watch what happens to Jared’s father (no spoilers here). This movie is based on the absence of fathers: The kids’ father, Richard Grace (Andrew McCarthy), and Lucinda’s father, Arthur Spiderwick. Since neither father does anything remotely helpful, the kids have to fend for themselves.

The Spiderwick Chronicles’ coming-of-age story is cliched and smaller in scale than other fantasy movies. However, Highmore’s gifted acting is enough to make up for these weaknesses. Highmore, a Briton who has already impressed audiences in “August Rush” and “Finding Neverland,” seems completely at ease with his character, American accent and all.

The DVD comes full of special features, most notably “Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide,” which introduces the creatures in the book and provides links to scenes from the film. Viewers can access the guide while the movie runs.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Fantasy, Adventure / English

96 min.

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger

By Choi Jung-in Contributing Writer [enational@joongang.co.kr]

By Choi Jung-in Contributing Writer
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