The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 2008 fantasy film adaptation of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's bestselling series of the same name. Set in the Spiderwick Estate in New England, it follows the adventures of Simon, Mallory, and Jared Grace as they discover a field guide to faeries and battle goblins and other magical creatures. It was directed by Mark Waters and stars Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen.
The Spiderwick Chronicles takes place in New England, United States, when young twins Simon and Jared (both played by Freddie Highmore) and their older sister Mallory move into the decrepit Spiderwick Estate. They discover a field guide to faeries written by the house's previous owner, Arthur Spiderwick, and soon begin to notice faeries throughout the estate. However, Mulgarath, a shape-shifting ogre, wants the field guide so that he can rule over all faerie-kind (and possibly humans as well) and so attacks the children in an attempt to obtain it.
Mrs. Grace, recently divorced, wants a new start for her family, so the Grace family moves into the Spiderwick Estate when it is given to them by their elderly great-aunt Lucinda, Arthur Spiderwick's daughter. Mallory uncovers a dumbwaiter system behind a wall; in it, Jared finds a monogrammed key. He also discovers Arthur Spiderwick's study, and when he uses the key to open a chest, he finds Spiderwick's Field Guide. Although an attached note warns him not to read it, he does so anyway.
Later, Jared meets 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 the house and gives him a stone with a hole which allows him to see faeries. Simon, mistaken for Jared, is kidnapped by Mulgarath's goblins, while Jared meets Hogsqueal, a hobgoblin who gives Jared the ability to see all faeries without the aid of the stone. With Mallory's help, the twins escape from the goblins into the house.
Jared and Mallory visit their great-aunt Lucinda for advice. She tells them that only one person can help them—Arthur Spiderwick. However, he was "rescued" by Sylphs, a type of faerie, when goblins attacked, and they will not allow him to return because they desire his knowledge. Lucinda tells them that they must find her father and have him destroy the book. Suddenly, Mulgarath's goblins attack them and manage to steal several pages from the book before they are driven off.
Meanwhile, Simon, aided by Thimbletack, has employed his time to fill plastic bags with tomato sauce, which burn goblins like acid. The siblings use the book to summon Arthur Spiderwick's pet, a griffin, which takes them to the realms of the Sylphs. There they meet Arthur Spiderwick, who has not aged but is also unaware of the time he has spent there. Spiderwick initially does not want to leave, but eventually changes his mind, and the three escape on the griffin.
On their return, Hogsqueal warns them that one of the stolen pages will allow Mulgurath to destroy the protective circle when the moon waxes full. The family arms themselves with steel knives and tomato sauce. When they are forced into the kitchen, they place all of their tomato sauce and salt into the oven and hide before detonating it, killing all of the goblins.
Mr. Grace enters the house and tells Jared that he came to apologize; however, Jared stabs him in the stomach, revealing him to be Mulgarath in disguise. Jared escapes with the book through the dumbwaiter while Mulgarath transforms into a snake and gives pursuit. On the roof, Jared throws the book onto the lawn; as Mulgarath transforms into a raven to catch it, he is snatched and eaten by Hogsqueal.
The Graces bring Lucinda back to the house; and the Sylphs appear, bringing Arthur. However, he cannot remain, because his age would return to him all at once and kill him. Instead, Lucinda asks to be taken with him, and so the Sylphs transform her back into her six-year-old self and spirit the two away.
- Freddie Highmore as Jared Grace and Simon Grace
- Sarah Bolger as Mallory Grace
- Mary-Louise Parker as Mrs. Helen Grace
- David Strathairn as Arthur Spiderwick
- Martin Short as Thimbletack/Boggart (voice)
- Nick Nolte as Mulgarath
- Seth Rogen as Hogsqueal (voice)
- Andrew McCarthy as Richard Grace
- Joan Plowright as Great Aunt Lucinda
- "Fly as you want. Griffin! I swallowed an ogre whole. You could be next!" - Hogsqueal
- "Vengeance or Death! ...hopefully vengeance." - Hogsqueal
- "You looked, and looked and found the book/ and from the chest the book was -STOLEN!" - Thimbletack, exploding into a Boggart
- You don't see us, now you do/ but only if we want you too." - Thimbletack
The Spiderwick Chronicles received generally favorable reviews from critics; it was called "decent entertainment," "a work of both modest enchantment and enchanting modesty," and "modest and reasonably charming." However, it was criticized for its reliance on special effects; a reviewer for The New York Times called it "frantic with incident and hectic with computer-generated effects," and another said that "the sense of wonder and magic is lost in the shuffle."
Despite some negative reviews for the film overall, Freddie Highmore was generally praised for his dual role as Jared. One critic said that he "skillfully portrays two distinctive personas," another said he "[had] no trouble grasping the task at hand," and a third remarked that, "the most special effect is probably Highmore".
As of March 5, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 81% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 109 reviews, and Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 63 out of 100, based on 29 reviews.
Box office performanceEdit
In its opening weekend, the film grossed an estimated $19 million in 3,847 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #3 at the box office. With the opening day's gross on Thursday included, the film grossed an estimated $21.3 million on its opening weekend.
- Main article: The Spiderwick Chronicles (video game)
Sierra Entertainment enlisted Stormfront Studios to develop and produce a video game adaptation of the Spiderwick Chronicles, following the general storyline of the books and film. 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.
Differences from the booksEdit
- The final battle against Mulgarath in the film takes place in the Spiderwick estate instead of in Mulgarath's cave.
- Mulgarath's appearance is markedly different from his description in the books.
- The Dwarves and their robotic dogs are completely omitted from the film.
- In the books, Arthur Spiderwick is taken captive by Elves, but they are called Sylphs in the film.
- In the books, twins Jared and Simon are nine years old, however, in the film, they appear older.
- The river troll, which appears in the second book, The Seeing Stone, is omitted in the movie,and is replaced with a mole troll.
- In the books, Simon befriends a wounded griffin and names him Byron. In the film, the griffin is already Arthur Spiderwick's pet.
- The film adds a tunnel under the Spiderwick Estate leading to the town.
- In the books, the children do not use tomato sauce bombs to destroy the goblins.
- In the books, Lucinda doesn't go to live with Arthur.
- The Phooka, a faerie in the book, is completely omitted from the film.
- ↑ Richard Corliss (2008-02-15). Run from Jumper, Creep Toward Spiderwick. Time Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Justin Change (2008-02-10). The Spiderwick Chronicles. Variety. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Peter Sobczynski (2008-02-14). The Spiderwick Chronicles. eFilmCritic.com. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ A. O. Scott (2008-02-14). A House Divided by Old Magic and New Residents. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Sean Axmaker (2008-02-13). 'Spiderwick' looks pretty but offers little. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Claudia Puig (2008-02-13). 'Spiderwick' doesn't stick, despite Highmore's performance. USA TODAY. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Elizabeth Weitzman (2008-02-14). 'Spiderwick Chronicles' fantasy can grow on you. NY Daily News. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Ty Burr (2008-02-14). A creepy-crawly and digitized faerie tale. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ The Spiderwick Chronicles - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ Spiderwick Chronicles, The (2008): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- ↑ The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-02-17.
- ↑ Brendan Sinclair (2007-08-09). Sierra snares Spiderwick Chronicles. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
- ↑ http://www.spiderwickgame.com
- Official site
- The Spiderwick Chronicles at the Internet Movie Database
- The Spiderwick Chronicles at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Spiderwick Chronicles at Metacritic
- The Spiderwick Chronicles at Box Office Mojo
- The Spiderwick Chronicles at All Movie Guide
- Interview with author Holly Black at HollywoodChicago.com
- Full production notes
- Spiderwick Chronicles rated as "Monitored: Acceptable" by American Humane Association
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