Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, David Strathairn
Colour 96 mins
A very pleasing book adaptation. Perhaps a well-worn story, family get uprooted from the big city to an old house in the woods where they discover a magical world. The children unwittingly provide a big bad ogre with the way to bring disorder and hurt to this world. With the aid of unlikely allies they must defend their new home against the forces of darkness.
The film is a little changed from the series of books, not as harsh in some places, the children are older. Whether the film is faithful to the books I cannot say but the world visualised in the film is wonderful. The house is a vital actor in the film, Arthur Spiderwick's study itself is a believable collection of bric-a-brac. Spiderwick's book, a central plot device, is lovingly drawn. The story flows well, not getting stale and keeping one guessing.
Quaintly the American children are not played by Americans, but come over well. The twins are played by the same actor (Freddie Highmore.) There are some deeper themes bubbling along (the family doesn't include the father, and there's some coming to terms with that.) I really enjoyed this, one of the best films of its type.