The Spiderwick Chronicles

Rated 4.0

After the trudge through malarkey that was The Golden Compass, I must say that I was not excited about the latest attempt to jumpstart a franchise based on children’s books. Happily, this one about a family moving into a house besieged by goblins caught me by surprise. Freddie Highmore acquits himself nicely for August Rush by playing twin brothers who, with their mom (Mary Louise Parker) and sister (Sarah Bolger), find themselves in trouble when they find a fairy guide book that dark forces wish to possess. The film is scary (perhaps too scary for a PG rating), but good fun in a Spielberg sort of way. The film even has the old Spielberg theme of the absent father. Yet, Spielberg didn’t direct the film, Mark Waters, who made Mean Girls, did, and it’s a nice effort. The creatures (voiced by the likes of Martin Short, Seth Rogen and Nick Nolte) are a great combination of CGI and Phil Tippet creature work. Highmore, who plays twins without resorting to gimmicky extremes.