Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The books

What I liked: This fantasy series for children definitely has charm. It's a fast-paced, action-packed story about family. The characters are very likeable. It's set in a great old house. The book design is beautiful and the illustrations are great. The mystery about Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You kept me reading...

What I didn't like: The series didn't excite me. I thought that all of the problems of the characters were solved too easily. And I was disappointed with the fantasy element. I thought too much attention was paid to elves and dwarfs - fairies that already heavily populate other fantasy stories! I wanted to read more about creatures like brownies and phookas because they are new fantasy creatures to me. :)

The movie

What I liked: Hooray for good family entertainment like The Spiderwick Chronicles! The special effects were nice, and it's always a real treat to see books come alive through the magic of movies. Of course the movie didn't follow the books exactly, but I still felt that it was so faithful to the books (in everything from characterization and set and costume design to family themes and how the ogre Mulgarath was defeated). Better still, the movie glossed over the parts of the books that I didn't like! Yay! For example, it didn't include elves and dwarfs. Instead it focused on fantastical creatures that are less common in contemporary fantasy for children. And the happy ending was even happier in the movie!

I must say, Jared Grace (played by Freddie Highmore) and Hogsqueal (an unlikely hero) were adorable. Plus, it was a pleasant surprise to see Andrew McCarthy play the father!

What I didn't like: My only complaint is that I feel the movie could have been more exciting. Hmmm, maybe I am getting desensitized by other action films and/or my attention span is getting shorter.

2 comments:

Kerrie said...

Oh I'm glad you reviewed this! I've been seeing it about and I keep meaning to read it and never getting to it. I think it's tough to be impressed by fantasy after Lewis and Tolkein, but it looks like this is worth a peek.

Tarie said...

You're right! Fans of Lewis and/or Tolkien will not be impressed by The Spiderwick Chronicles. :( I think this series is one of those series that kids will love, but their parents won't because they have been exposed to so many other fantasy series and are much more critical.