Science fiction and fantasy
The Spiderwick Chronicles
directed by Mark Waters
Jared is the first to believe in the existence of the house brownie, Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short), although no-one else believes him at first. But the ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) wants the book, and he's prepared to go to any lengths to get it. Mulgarath is the leader of the goblins. He plans to use the book to kill off all of the other species of fantastic creatures, not to mention all of the Grace family for good measure.
They need the help of the fairies and various good magical creatures to defeat the goblins, so this movie is loaded with cute, quirky and incredible characters such as the gross Hogsqueal, Thimbletack who talks in rhyme, and a handy pet griffin. Amongst the fantasy the Grace children are dealing with the rather more prosaic issue of their parents' separation. The evasiveness of Jared's father is something of a cliché. However, although some of the creatures bear a passing resemblance to some of those from Harry Potter and Bridge To Terabithia, the story itself, based on the books of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, is at least not hackneyed.
Freddie Highmore does a good job of playing both of the twin Grace brothers, Simon and Jared, who may be identical in looks but whose personalities could not be more different. The relationships between the children are one of the few things that give this movie some much-needed grounding in reality.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a solid children's film that deals with themes of loss, self-control and the high price of knowledge. It's cute and funny in places, and parts of the ending are extremely saccharine. This is a fairly short film that's not too complex, and it's a little over-reliant on attention-grabbing special effects. This light and slightly melodramatic film will appeal to people who enjoy enchanting movies such as Stardust, but it's sweet rather than serious or deep.
If you like this, try:Arthur and the Invisibles by Luc Besson
A boy shrinks to the size of an insect and goes on an adventure in order to rescue his home.
Stardust by Matthew Vaughn
Life is hard for a star: there's no privacy, you get hounded wherever you go, your heart cut out and eaten...
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Alfonso Cuaron
Will Harry's third year at Hogwarts see his worst fears realised?