Film Review: Spiderwick Chronicles Review - A Tale of Family Love

Do you believe fairies, goblins, brownies and unleashed evil? 

Spiderwick: Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn)

Arthur Spiderwck ( David Strathairn) did. He never dreamed that by writing up his research about the unseen world exposed secrets and endangered not only himself but his daughter and future generations.

Spiderwick: Jared (Freddie Highmore) reads mystery book

The house, secrets and all, is a character in the story.  It's strange history not only includes the disappearance of Arthur but his daughter Lucinda ( Joan Plowright) who, after her father's disappearance, never left the house until she was taken away to a sanitarium.

spiderwick: Lucinda (Joan Plowright)

The now deserted mansion is offered to newly divorced Helen Grace ( Mary Louise Parker.) She comes with her children to start a new life.  Her teen daughter Mallory ( Sarah Bolger) is wiser than most at understands what happened with her parents but will not let on.  Her hobby of fencing comes in handy later.

Spiderwick: Mother Helen Grace (Mary Louise Parker) and kids settle into house

 The two sons, Jared and Simon (both played by British actor Freddie Highmore) are both in the dark about their father.  Despite being played by the same actor the boys are portrayed very differently with Jared as being angrier and more upset by the divorce and move while Simon, on the other hand, is quiet and studious.

Spiderwick: Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and Lucinda's picture

It's the ever questioning Jared who discovers the brownie, Thumbletack ( Martin Short) living in the secret attic.  Of course the brownie is only visible when he chooses to be but if you have honey, his favorite, he will come out. 

Given the charge of protecting Spiderwick's book so that the evil Mulgrath ( Nick Nolte) cannot find it, Thumbletack has hidden it and is very upset when Jared discovers the volume and opens it because there been a warning that the book was not to be touched.  By breaking the seal, Jared has released the unseen forces.

Tumbletack warns Jared that if the monster, who can shape shift, gets a hold of the book’s secrets it will be the end of them all. Jared does not know how desperate Mulgrath is to get the book until Simon is kidnapped and Jared is forced to rescue him.

Spiderwick: Bull Goblin

In the process of discovering the goblins and their leader, Red Cap, a bull goblin, he acquires "the sight" when Hogsqueal ( Seth Rogan) spits in his eye.  Hogsqueal offers his help in defeating the evil one but has failed due to his distracting flaw --his love for eating birds.  Still the pig is determined to kill Mulgarth because he destroyed Hogsqueal's family. He pushes Jared for a plan. He knows that Mulgrath will stop at nothing to get that book.

Spiderwick: Simon

At first the boys feel helpless until they realize that knowledge is power and that they can defeat Mulgarth and keep the book safe. The children decide to seek out Aunt Lucinda and meet the spite fairies who had captured Arthur and hold him hostage in an effort to keep the knowledge safe.  Lucinda tells them they must find Arthur himself and they call upon Arthur’s pet Griffin to fly them to the magical land of the spites.

Spiderwich: fairy flower sprite

While Mallory and Jared go to find Lucinda, Simon leans that tomato sauce and oatmeal mixed together will kill goblins.  So he prepares weapons for all. Jared is disappointed to learn that not only can't Arthur help him but that Mulgarth has managed to obtain several crucial pages of the book.

Spiderwick: the book and Thumbletack (Martin Short)

The problem Jared, Simon, and then Mallory face is not only getting Mom to believe that there is something strange about the house but that these creatures exist. Mulgrath shape shifting into Jared's dad, almost fools the others but not Jared because he doesn’t answer the question correctly. 

Spiderwick: Mulgarth (Nick Nolte)

Now the four humans and one brownie must defend the book at all costs.

Spiderwick: Mark Walters

Based on the novels by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, the film is deftly directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls; Freaky Friday) and produced by Kennedy Marshall and Mark Canton. The screenplay, combining several books of the series, was written by Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum, and John Sayles. 

Executive producers were the two authors Black and DiTerlizzi and Julia Pistor; producers were Mark Canton, Larry Franco, Ellen Goldsmith Vein and Karey Kirkpatrick. Photography by Caleb Deschanel was not only remarkable for the use of the special effects but the use of the one boy as two. 

Michael Kahn's editing genius helped to cement a wonderful film but would have been difficult without the ILM visual effects from Pablo Helman and the creatures done by Philip Tippett of Tippett studio. Michael Lantieri , Tom Peitzman, and Jim Bissell contributed to the enchanted feel of the movie with additional effects, 3-D characters,  and wonderful music.  Intriguing costumes by Joanna Johnson and Odette Gadoury were wonderful to watch.

Watching the film in IMAX will be even more of a treat for kids because the feel of the house and the characters are so much more real.

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