9-y-o Junior has had a remarkable streak of luck involving the kids’ fantasy movie Spiderwick Chronicles. First he managed to check his e-mail just as the book-club he’s a member of sent out a mass-mailed invitation to yesterday’s pre-screening of the film. Then, when he and I sat down to watch the thing, the Spiderwick books’ Swedish publishers ran a lottery with the seat numbers, and he was the first winner, harvesting two new books and a merch note pad.
In Junior’s opinion, the movie was a 8/10. I’m not a member of target audience, and I give it a 5. It’s a contemporary-world children’s fantasy in the tradition of Edith Nesbith: about three siblings who move to a big old house and find the field journal of their great-grand-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, who studied fairies and goblins in the 1920s. The movie’s action-filled and pretty violent, though most of the beings that get hurt are barely humanoid CGI critters. The mood is rarely particularly menacing or eerie. A funny detail is that twin brothers Jared and Simon are both played by Freddie Highmore (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame), who does a very fine job of keeping the two characters distinct. (The integration of the separate takes is seamless.)
So, if you’re a grown-up looking for fantasy entertainment, then you can do far worse than this. And if you want to entertain a 9-12-year-old, then you are unlikely to do much better than Spiderwick Chronicles.
(On a side note, the art in Holly Black’s original book series, by Tony DiTerlizzi, is heavily influenced by Brian Froud. Anyone into him or the 1986 David Bowie flick The Labyrinth might check the books out too.)