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The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 2008 American fantasy adventure film based on the bestselling book series of the same name by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. It was directed by Mark Waters and stars Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen. Set in the Spiderwick Estate in New England, it follows the adventures of Jared Grace and his family as they discover a field guide to fairies while encountering goblins, ogres, brownies, boggarts, hobgoblins, trolls and other magical creatures.

The Spiderwick Chronicles
Spiderwick chronicles poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMark Waters
Produced byMark Canton
Larry Franco
Ellen Goldsmith-Vein
Karey Kirkpatrick
Screenplay byKarey Kirkpatrick
David Berenbaum
John Sayles
Based onThe Spiderwick Chronicles
by Tony DiTerlizzi and
Holly Black
StarringFreddie Highmore
Sarah Bolger
Mary-Louise Parker
Martin Short
Nick Nolte
Seth Rogen
Joan Plowright
David Strathairn
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited byMichael Kahn
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • January 31, 2008 (2008-01-31) (Hollywood)
  • February 14, 2008 (2008-02-14) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90 million[2]
Box office$162.8 million[2]

Produced by Nickelodeon Movies and distributed by Paramount Pictures, it was released on February 14, 2008, earning $162.8 million against its $90 million budget. The Spiderwick Chronicles received generally favorable reviews from critics, with Highmore's dual performance being singled out for praise. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2008, in the United States.[3]

Contents

PlotEdit

In 1928, Arthur Spiderwick documents all of his research on magical creatures and the fantastical realm into a field guide. Right after finishing it, he hears an eerie sound and senses that the evil creatures in the realm may have discovered that he has just written the book and decides to hide it from the monstrous shape-shifting ogre, Mulgarath.

80 years later, in 2008, recently divorced Helen Grace moves into the now vacant Spiderwick Estate in the woods with her children after she inherits the land from her aunt Lucinda, though twins Jared and Simon and their older sister Mallory do not want to move away from New York. When Jared uncovers a dumbwaiter system behind a wall, he finds a hidden key and discovers the study of his great-great-uncle and late owner of the estate, who is revealed to be Arthur Spiderwick. Jared then uses the key to open a chest. In it, he finds Spiderwick's field guide to the creatures. Although an attached note warns him not to read it under a deadly consequence, he does so anyway. When Jared explains about his discovery on the existence of magical creatures, Helen, Simon and Mallory don't believe him.

In the morning, Jared meets and befriends a brownie named Thimbletack, who explains that magical creatures are normally invisible, but can reveal themselves at will. He tells Jared about a protective circle that Arthur Spiderwick placed around his house and gives him a Adder stone which he can look through in order to see the magical creatures.

However, Mulgarath wants the field guide for himself so he can take control of all creature-kind. He sends his goblin army led by their general Redcap to obtain it and they kidnap Simon, mistaking him for Jared. Jared follows the goblins to their campsite where he meets Hogsqueal, a lone hobgoblin who wants to kill Mulgarath to avenge the death of his family. He gives Jared the ability to see creatures without the aid of the stone by spitting in his eyes. Mulgarath lets Simon go as he does not have the book and furiously berates Redcap for failing his master. Jared finds Simon and both fight over the book, which is suddenly noticed by Redcap and the goblins. Together, the twins flee to the house, though Simon is injured when one goblin bites his leg. Mallory is attacked by the goblins, but she manages to drive them away with her fencing sword, making her finally realize that Jared is right. Inside, Thimbletack informs them that Mulgarath will kill all of humanity and creatures who oppose him if he gets the book.

The group resolve to destroy the book by incinerating it in a fire, but the flames do not burn it due to a protective spell being placed on it. With no other choice, the children decide to visit their great-aunt Lucinda, now in a psychiatric hospital for claiming her father was abducted by fairies, for advice. While Simon distracts Redcap and the goblins, Mallory and Jared reach an underground tunnel under the estate. Suddenly, they are pursued by a vicious mole troll sent by Redcap and the goblins to retrieve the book, but they narrowly escape when it is struck and killed by an oncoming truck. When they meet Lucinda at the hospital, she tells the children that they need to find her father, Arthur Spiderwick and have him destroy the book. However, it is discovered that Arthur has been held captive by the Sylphs, a type of fairy, for the past 80 years. At that moment, Redcap and his goblins attack them through the window of Lucinda's room and they manage to tear off several pages from the book before they are driven off. In the forest, Mulgarath confronts Redcap about not bringing the entire book, as most of the information in the stolen pages were useless. Mulgarath suddenly gets pleased when he discovers that one of the book's pages has information that tells them how to break the protective circle by moonrise. He and Redcap prepare to make the potion for the upcoming night, although Hogsqueal overhears their scheme and goes to warn Jared. Meanwhile, Helen, who drives Jared and Mallory home, doesn't believe them when they try to explain what's going on and accuses them of using their story as an excuse for wanting to go back to New York. Jared then gets into an argument with her on why his father left her because of her not listening and starts yelling. Once home, Jared angrily tells Helen that he hates her and doesn't want to live with her anymore. Mallory asks Helen if she should just tell Jared what's really happening with his father, but she says no.

Later, Hogsqueal tells Jared, Simon, and Mallory about Mulgarath's plan and gives Simon and Mallory the ability to see creatures. Jared then tries to call his father on why isn't he coming, but Mallory tells him the truth: he has moved in with someone else and will not return to them as he promised, bringing Jared to tears. To see Arthur, Jared, Simon, and Mallory use the book to summon a pet of his, a griffin, which takes them to the realm of the Sylphs. There, they meet Arthur, who has not aged and is also unaware of the time he has spent there. Jared asks him to destroy the book which confuses him only to find out that Thimbletack had switched the pages and kept the real book safe. Arthur is initially relieved, but is gravely worried when Jared tells him that Mulgarath got pages of the book and the protective circle will be broken as soon as the moon rises. Arthur also informs Jared that the Sylphs won't allow him, Simon and Mallory to leave as they'll be held captive like he is for knowing too much about the magical realm, but helps them escape by distracting them with the fake book.

Once home, the children try to convince Helen of the truth of the goblin threat and the existence of magical creatures. At first, Helen still doesn't believe them and refuses to listen until Thimbletack appears and they show her the goblins outside, finally shattering her disbelief and making her agree to help. At this time, the goblins have finished spreading the potion, which successfully breaks the circle when the full moon rises. Jared, Simon and Mallory along with Helen arm themselves with kitchen knives as well as home-made tomato sauce/salt bombs prepared by Simon earlier. The family successfully fend off the attacking goblins, though the house suffers considerable damage. When they are forced into the kitchen by Mulgarath's arrival, they place all of their bombs into the oven which detonate and kills all the goblins including Redcap in an explosion of tomato sauce.

Suddenly, Richard, their father, enters the house and tells Jared that he came to apologize for everything as he was late. However, Jared realizes that it isn't his real father when Richard demands to see the book as he is deeply interested in it and stabs his dad with a knife, revealing it was actually Mulgarath in disguise; since he is an ogre, not a goblin, he was able to survive the explosion of tomato sauce. Jared escapes with the book through the dumbwaiter while Mulgarath pursues him as a snake until Thimbletack intervenes and was able to fight the ogre off in order to let Jared escape, but is injured and knocked unconscious as he is thrown aside. Mulgarath eventually chases Jared onto the roof where he corners him and demands to surrender the book. With no choice, Jared tosses the book into the air, allowing Mulgarath to transform into a raven and manages to catch it, but before he could escape into the forest with it, he is suddenly snatched and devoured by Hogsqueal hidden in a tree, causing the remaining pages of the book to scatter and fall onto the ground. Jared falls down from the roof, but is uninjured. On the ground, he and Helen reconcile for their arguments earlier and for Helen to apologize to Jared for not believing him. She tells him that if he wants to live with his dad, he can. However, Jared says he doesn't and he wants to stay with her, which makes her happy. In the aftermath, Hogsqueal and the Graces proceed to find and pick up all the scattered pages of the Field Guide.

Weeks later, the Graces bring Lucinda back to the house, showing her the repairs being made to the house in the aftermath of the goblin attack and reintroducing her to Thimbletack. Moments later, the Sylphs appear, bringing Arthur, as he was allowed to visit his home once again since the book is now safe as all the pages are found and fixed. Arthur cannot remain outside of the fairie realm, or he will turn to dust and die. Lucinda asks to be taken with him instead and the Sylphs transform her back into her six and a half-year-old self before they spirit the two away as the Graces watch. The family then resume their peaceful lives with Thimbletack and Hogsqueal as well as the Griffin.

CastEdit

  • Freddie Highmore as the Grace twins
    • Jared: a young boy with anger problems and is the most reluctant about moving from New York.
    • Simon: Jared's identical twin brother and a pacifistic animal lover.
  • Sarah Bolger as Mallory Grace: Jared and Simon's older sister.
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Helen Grace: the children's mother.
  • Nick Nolte as the voice of Mulgarath, an evil shapeshifting ogre and the leader of the goblins.
    • Nolte also portrays Mulgarath in his human form.
  • Ron Perlman as the voice of Redcap, a vicious and grouchy goblin general and Mulgarath's second-in-command. He is uncredited for his performance.
  • Andrew McCarthy as Richard Grace: Jared, Simon, and Mallory's divorced father.
    • McCarthy also portrays Mulgarath's disguise of Richard.
  • Joan Plowright as Aunt Lucinda Spiderwick, Arthur Spiderwick's daughter.
    • Jordy Benattar as Young Lucinda Spiderwick
  • David Strathairn as Arthur Spiderwick, the author of the guide and owner of the mansion.
  • Seth Rogen as the voice of Hogsqueal, an unintelligent bird-eating hobgoblin who seeks revenge against Mulgarath for killing his family.
  • Martin Short as the voice of Thimbletack, a loyal house brownie who shapeshifts into an aggressive boggart when he becomes angry.
  • Tod Fennell as Helen's co-worker

ProductionEdit

FilmingEdit

 
A blue screen set used during filming.

In an interview, Sarah Bolger said that filming took 4–5 months. She said that she "was [in front of] the blue screen like 24 hours a day", and for the most part, she was "kicking and slicing and chopping things that were nowhere near". Since Bolger had many fencing scenes, she had five weeks of intense training, and three hours with the Canadian Olympic fencing coach nearly every day.[4]

SoundtrackEdit

  • London Bridge Is Falling Down - Performed by Jordy Benattar
  • Writing the Chronicles
  • So Many New Worlds Revealed
  • Thimbletack and the Goblins
  • Hogsqueal's Warning of a Bargain with Mulgarath
  • Discovering Spiderwick's Secret Workshop
  • Dark Armies from the Forest Attack
  • Burning the Book
  • A Desperate Run Through the Tunnels
  • Lucinda's Story
  • The Flight of the Griffin
  • Escape from the Glade
  • The Protective Circle Is Broken....!
  • Jared and Mulgarath Fight for the Chronicles
  • Coming Home
  • Closing Credits

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

The Spiderwick Chronicles received generally favorable reviews from critics; it was called "decent entertainment,"[5] "a work of both modest enchantment and enchanting modesty,"[6] and "modest and reasonably charming."[7] However, it was criticized for its reliance on special effects; a reviewer for The New York Times said that the movie "feels more like a sloppy, secondhand pander" and called it "frantic with incident and hectic with computer-generated effects,"[8] and another said that "the sense of wonder and magic is lost in the shuffle."[9] Despite some negative reviews for the film overall, Highmore was generally praised for his dual role as the twins Simon and Jared. One critic said that he "skillfully portrays two distinctive personas,"[10] another said he "[had] no trouble grasping the task at hand,"[11] and a third remarked that, "the most special effect is probably Highmore".[12]

The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 80% of critics gave the film positive reviews with an average rating of 6.7/10, based on 145 reviews, the site's critical consensus reads: "The Spiderwick Chronicles is an entertaining children's adventure, with heart and imagination to spare."[13] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 62 out of 100, based on 30 reviews.[14] The film was nominated by the Visual Effects Society in the category of "Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture" but it lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.[15]

Box officeEdit

In its opening weekend, the film grossed an estimated $19 million in 3,847 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #2 behind Jumper at the box office.[2] With the opening day's gross on Thursday included, the film grossed an estimated $24.3 million on its opening weekend.[16] This film has grossed $162.8 million worldwide.[17]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2008 in the United States.[3] It was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 12, 2017 in the United States.

In other mediaEdit

Video gameEdit

Vivendi Games, under their Sierra Entertainment label enlisted Stormfront Studios to develop and produce a video game adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles, following the general storyline of the books and film.[18] It was released, shortly before the film's opening, on February 5, 2008 for Nintendo DS, Wii, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 2, and rated Everyone (E10+) by the ESRB.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. December 18, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Breaking: Paramount Unveils Blu-ray Launch Plans | High-Def Digest". www.highdefdigest.com.
  4. ^ Sarah Bolger Interview, The Spiderwick Chronicles - MoviesOnline
  5. ^ Richard Corliss (February 15, 2008). "Run from Jumper, Creep Toward Spiderwick". Time Magazine. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  6. ^ Justin Change (February 10, 2008). "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Variety. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  7. ^ Peter Sobczynski (February 14, 2008). "The Spiderwick Chronicles". eFilmCritic.com. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  8. ^ A. O. Scott (February 14, 2008). "A House Divided by Old Magic and New Residents". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  9. ^ Sean Axmaker (February 13, 2008). "'Spiderwick' looks pretty but offers little". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  10. ^ Claudia Puig (February 13, 2008). "'Spiderwick' doesn't stick, despite Highmore's performance". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 5, 2008. Freddie Highmore does a fine job in a dual role as identical twins. The talented actor skillfully portrays two distinctive personas.
  11. ^ Elizabeth Weitzman (February 14, 2008). "'Spiderwick Chronicles' fantasy can grow on you". NY Daily News. Retrieved March 5, 2008. Happily, Highmore has no trouble grasping the task at hand.
  12. ^ Ty Burr (February 14, 2008). "A creepy-crawly and digitized faerie tale". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 5, 2008. The most special effect is probably Highmore, who gets to sharpen up his American accent and who makes each twin, bookish Simon and bad-boy Jared, a functioning individual.
  13. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles — Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  14. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles". Metacritic. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  15. ^ "7th Annual VES Awards". visual effects society. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  16. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
  17. ^ "The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 5, 2008.
  18. ^ Brendan Sinclair (August 9, 2007). "Sierra snares Spiderwick Chronicles". GameSpot. Retrieved March 4, 2008.

External linksEdit