topfivefilms.com Tuesday 18th January 2022
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The Spiderwick Chronicles (PG)
Directed by: Mark Waters
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

"What the hell is a Spiderwick and why has it been chronicling stuff? This doesn't make any sense!" At least, that was what I thought before I saw this imaginative children's film, but it turns out that Spiderwick was a man (Mr Spiderwick to you) and he had indeed been chronicling stuff. To be precise, he had been compiling a book that describes all the secrets and weaknesses of a vast menagerie of fairytale creatures that lived near his home eighty years ago.

"Can you help me with this word please?"
"Can you help me with this word please?"

Bizarrely, the guardians of this wilderness decided that Mr Spiderwick knew too much for his own good and so they kidnapped him. His book, however, remained in his house, safely surrounded by a magic circle to prevent any horrible goblins from coming in and taking it.

In the present day, little Freddie Highmore (playing twins or brothers or something – there's two of him anyway) turns up with his mum and his sister to live in the old, abandoned house. He not only discovers the book, but he reads it from cover to cover and then takes it outside the protective circle – essentially waving it in the faces of the horrible little goblins and their evil ogre overlord. From that point on, it's up to the siblings to use the contents of the book and their own initiative to discover the secret world around them and keep the book safe.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a wonderful tale for kids – it's very imaginative, and the host of strange creatures are realistic and well animated. The story itself reminds of classics like The Never Ending Story, or Bridge To Terabithia (but without the upsetting bits) and it is generally well made, wholesome fun for the pre-teens. It doesn't, however, contain much for the adult audience, but I'd rather see a film that played to its intended audience well than another cheap, animated cash-in on the school holidays that attempts to appeal to everyone.

It's by no means a perfect example of story telling for children, but it's better than a lot of kids' films, so if you're looking for something for your little ones, you won't do better than this at the moment.

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Length: 97 minutes
Certificate: PG
Official Site: http://www.spiderwickchronicles.com/
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416236/
Release Date: 21st March 2008

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0% (0.0%)

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