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The Spiderwick Chronicles (SE)
DVD disk
06.24.2008 By: Jason Adams
The Spiderwick Chronicles (SE) order
Director:
Mark Waters

Actors:
Freddie Highmore
Sarah Bolger
Mary-Louise Parker

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young boy and his family move to a new house, where he discovers a field guide written by his great uncle that reveals an unseen fantasy world. Unfortunately that also unleashes an army of nasty goblins and ogres who want to get their hands on the book.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Amidst all the expected fanboy favorites at last yearís Comic Con, effects guru Phil Tippet showed up to give everyone a first glimpse atÖTHE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES? I donít think anybody knew what to make of this obvious kidís movie sandwiched between the IRON MANs and WALL-Es, but the creature designs looked pretty cool and the effects work solid. Still, this one quickly dropped off the radar until it came time for this review.

Maybe thatís why I was pleasantly surprised how well SPIDERWICK works as a straightforward adventure aimed at the family set. It doesnít pander down to kids with some mature themes and menacing characters (and some real violence). MEAN GIRLS director Mark Water shows some restraint and finesse with the adaptation of the popular book series, keeping the tone light and entertaining despite all the child-killing monsters. The creature effects by ILM and Tippet Studios are good; not jaw-droppingly photorealistic but blended and interactive with the environment and actors in clever ways. The designs themselves are different than the usual trolls, goblins and ogres, which makes for some fun sequences.

Gp-to kid actor Freddie Highmore is already starting to grow up in to slightly awkward preteen, but his performance here is fine. His American accent is a stretch at times, but granted he is playing two identical twin characters and trying to distinguish between each. The rest of the cast list gets some legitimacy from vets like David Strathairn, Nick Nolte, Joan Plowright and a MILFy Mary Louise Parker. Even Seth Rogen shows up for some fun voicework, although minus the trademark cursing and vulgarity. (It is for kids after all.)
THE EXTRAS
Thereís plenty of solid material spread over these two discs (even if some of Waters real-world pandering feels awkward), and the whole thing is wrapped nicely in a Velcro-sealed slipcase.


Disc 1:
Spiderwick: Itís All True (7:05): Director Mark Waters tries to convince viewers that everything in the movie actually happened. Maybe little kids will buy it.

Itís a Spiderwick World! (8:46): Authors Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi talk about getting a letter from real kids about their experiences with real goblins, which eventually gave birth to this popular book series.

Arthur Spiderwickís Field Guide: A digital version of the helpful guide to the fantastical world around you.

Field Guide: In-Movie Mode: You know the drill: click on the book icon in the corner of the screen to learn more about the creature or magical concept.


Disc 2:
Spiderwick: Meet the Clan (13:55): A featurette on casting the children and other supporting actors. Seeing Seth Rogen in the studio is pretty funny.

Making Spiderwick (20:55): This behind the scenes doc covers the usual ground: production design, effects, score, etc.

The Magic of Spiderwick (14:26): An overview of the digital design and effects for each of the filmís creatures, with comments from Tippet and ILM.

Deleted Scenes (8:15): Four scenes, mostly more family stuff.

A Final Word of Advice (1:52): Waters again reminds you that itís all real. Got it, dude.

TV Spots, Trailers and Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES is a surprisingly decent fantasy-adventure flick for the childrens, although adults might get a kick out of the Nick Nolte ogre and Seth Rogen hobgoblin.

Extra Tidbit: No, Sarah Bolger is not 18 yet. Stop asking.
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