This fantasy adventure, based on the book series of the same name, follows the adventures of the Grace family as they stumble into a unique situation as they move into a new house.
Magical events mix with family dynamics throughout the engaging plot adapted by Karey Kirkpatrick (Chicken Run), David Berenbaum (Elf) and perennial filmmaker John Sayles. Director Mark Waters (Freaky Friday) handles the material well.
Freddie Highmore does great double duty as twin brothers Jared and Simon while sister Mallory is played by Sarah Bolger (In America). All three children do a fantastic job with their American accents and believable performances. Jared seems detached while Simon avoids conflict at all costs. Sarah’s fencing skills are predictably handy when mysterious events begins happening around the house.
The adventure begins as one of the siblings uncovers some amazing history about their great, great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, well played by David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum, Good Night Good Luck).
Joan Plowright also plays an important family character while Mary Louise Parker (Fried Green Tomatoes) plays their mother, who’s going through a personal crisis on top of the move.
Nick Nolte plays the antagonistic Mulgarath while Martin Short and Seth Rogen provide the voices for Thimbletack and Hogsqueal, respectively.
Great themes of human achievement, trust and dealing with unhealthy possession make this film a great adaptation of the book series written by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.
James Horner contributes a memorable musical score, which strengthens the plot and strong visuals including a sequence with dandelion seeds.
This recommended film (*** out of four stars) has a nice one hour 37 minute running time and is rated PG for scary creature action (the goblins aren’t too menacing) and violence, peril and some thematic elements.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler