162 of 169 people found the following review helpful
I watched "The Bridge to Terabithia" on a whim with my wife and daughter with little foreknowledge of the plot. I'd never read the Newbery Award-winning book by Katherine Paterson, and I'd seen only one trailer for the film, which left me with the impression it would be a Narnia knock-off. It's not.
I'm not dissing "The Chronicles of Narnia," which in its way was a remarkable film. But "Terabithia" didn't deserve the CGI-laden marketing campaign it received; far from a fantasy blockbuster, this is a deep and thoughtful movie that places substance over sparkle -- a rare treat in the sprawling field of youth-oriented theater. It ranks up there with one of my favorites, "The Secret of Roan Inish," which accomplished more with no special effects than most family-friendly movies could with a billion-dollar budget.
But I just can't shake "Terabithia" from my head, a fact owed mostly to the performance of AnnaSophia Robb. As Leslie, a spirited young girl with a fiery imagination and endless good cheer, AnnaSophia captured my heart. She's the kind of person you want to know when you're a child and, as my wife remarked midway through the film, she's the sort of young woman you'd be happy to see your daughter grow up to be.
An outsider despite her youthful good looks and family wealth, she finds her perfect match in Jesse (Joss Hutcherson), another outsider who has withdrawn into his art to escape a chilly home life and his own problems at school. Together, they discover a secret getaway that might seem like a fairly ordinary patch of woods to most people; to them, it's a magical world replete with fantastic creatures, hidden dangers and amazing triumphs. It's here the special effects intrude more than accentuate the film; the story would have benefited from a vaguer sense of Jesse and Leslie's own wonder. We don't need to see CGI creatures to believe that these two children do.
The strength here, besides outstanding performances from the two lead actors, is the impact of a story that knows no amount of fantasy can prevent real-life tragedies from occurring. And the tragedy here -- it's hard to write about it without giving it away -- slams into unsuspecting viewers like a sudden kick to the gut.
Parents of younger viewers should be prepared to have a long and serious talk with their children after this movie, but that's not a recommendation to avoid it. "Terabithia" deserves to be seen, discussed and seen again. (Although use some discretion; very young children should wait before seeing this.) My thanks to director Gabor Csupo, as well as writer Paterson, for giving kids something honest and real rather than another serving of high-energy fluff.
by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor
83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2007
I read the original book The Bridge to Terabithia when I was a kid. I don't remember very much from the book, but I remembered the general premise and the ending. When I originally read it, I really liked the book. So, obviously, when hearing that they were making it into a movie, I was very skeptical. Most good books don't translate into good movies. Then I saw the previews for the movie, and I was even more skeptical. This was not a book about fantasy lands and magical beings. This is no Chronicles of Narnia. I think it's much better, but it's certainly different.
This movie is about friendship, and imagination. It's the story of two fifth-graders, Jesse and Leslie, next-door neighbors, who are both outcasts. They aren't readily accepted in school, and aren't in love with their home lives, either. They grow a fast friendship where they "travel" to an imaginary land, Terabithia. In reality, it's just the woods behind their houses. All of the CGI that you see advertised is simply their imagination, and there's really very little of it. Just about every CGI-animated scene in the movie is shown in the previews. That is NOT what this movie is about, although that's what Disney would have you believe. It's about imagination and creativity, and how children should be encouraged to use that imagination.
I have a problem with all of the parents giving this movie terrible reviews because they say it's not child-appropriate. I don't have an opinion as to whether or not it's appropriate for children, that's for each individual parent to decide. Some kids can handle it, some can't. It doesn't take much research, however, to find out that this is not the happiest of stories. Any parent who really cares about what their kids see is going to research the movie BEFORE allowing their kids to see it. That involves either looking it up online, asking friends who have already seen it (or read the book), or watching it themselves FIRST to screen what their children see. I will not ruin the story by saying what happens, but if you really want to know, spend five minutes doing some research. Read the other reviews on this page, for crying out loud. But if you bring your kids to a movie that you haven't researched at all and it's not what you expect, don't blame the movie for your lack of effort. I understand Disney falsely advertised this movie, of course they did. Advertising it as another Chronicles of Narnia is certainly going to bring more sales in. But this movie is VERY GOOD. One reviewer said you have to be masochistic to enjoy a movie like this. I don't believe that's true. You simply have to appreciate a well-told story. Sometimes life sucks, and sometimes really terrible things happen. That's what the book was about, and this movie is faithful to that story.
I'm in my mid-twenties. When I went to see this, I went with a few friends of mine, all of us adults. Every one of us loved it. The two main actors (the two kids) are REALLY good. Jesse is the introvert and Leslie is the extrovert. You really buy into their friendship as you watch them learn to know one another. You want Jesse to punch the bully in the face; you want Leslie to stand up to the eighth-grader.
By the end, you could hear plenty of sniffles throughout the audience, including coming from my friends. Heck, I knew the story beforehand, and I still teared up. It's difficult to watch, but I believe the story was handled with very much care by Disney. Overall, this is an excellent movie, if not with reservations. If you're concerned with what your children see, then spend some time and find out what's in the plotline. But this movie is really good.
81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
I know absolutely nothing about the young adult novel that this film, "Bridge to Terabithia," is based on. For this reason, I will only review this film for its contents and not on how well it translates the book to the screen. With that said, I can claim that "Bridge to Terabithia" is just one more wonderful film that's been produced as of late for youngsters that's based on a book or book series. Produced by Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures, this film tells the story of Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson of "Zathura"), a boy who lives in poverty but escapes from reality through drawing fantastical creatures and worlds. When a new neighbor moves in who marches to the beat of a different drum, the two of them combine their imaginations to create the kingdom of Terabithia. The neighbor is Leslie Burke, and she's played by the likeable and enthusiastic AnnaSophia Robb ("Because of Winn-Dixie," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"). She and Jesse take their personal miseries from school and at home and turn them into trolls, evil squirrels, grenade-like pinecones and a whole slew of other creatures. All of the bad people of Terabithia are lead by the Dark Master, a smoky, phantom-like creature.
As the story unfolds, Jesse and Leslie form a strong friendship both in reality and in fantasy. When Jesse is asked to go to the museum by his music teacher (the excellent Zooey Deschanel), he intentionally leaves Leslie behind. Why? Because like any most boys in middle school he happens to have a crush on his music teacher (It's Zooey Deschanel, who wouldn't?). When a tragedy occurs, Jesse's worlds, real and fantasy, experience dramatic changes.
"Bridge to Terabithia" is essentially a coming-of-age tale where kids who aren't quite children but haven't yet reached adulthood come to feel the consequences of reality. Jesse and Leslie love their fantasy world, but each day brings more reality with it. The cast is headed up by Hutcherson, Robb, and young Bailee Madison (Jesse's cute little sister, May Belle). The supporting cast includes Deschanel, the always reliably gruff Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2") and Lauren Clinton. While the adults play key roles in this film, it's really all about the kids.
The special effects are very good, though most pre-teens will pick up on their limitations. However, the special effects take a backseat to the story, which is always refreshing to see these days.
Parents with younger children should know that the tragedy aforemetioned may be very tough for youngsters to take. I won't go into details, but just know that it's one of the gravest tragedies that can occur in anyone's life. There are also two instances of strong language. The "d" word is used repetively in both of them. One occurs in the back of a truck after church and the other happens in the greenhouse at Jesse's home when he loses his father's keys. Other than that, there isn't anything in the film that you really need to look out for.
As a fantasy tale, "Terabithia" works well. It works better as a film about a young boy and his friend who come to terms with reality. I highly recommend this film for families, just be prepared to do some heavy explaining with younger children (under eight) when reality really, really hits home. Fans of this movie may also enjoy "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe," the "Harry Potter" films (although as Harry gets older, the movies and books become geared more towards older children), and "The Neverending Story." Also, even though I haven't read this particular book, I have read plenty of other young adult books in my day. Pick up "A Wrinkle In Time" by Madeleine L'Engle, any of the "Harry Potter" books, or any other wonderful child and pre-teen fantasy for your children to read if they enjoy this film.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2007
I must admit I did not discover the book until the early 1990s as part of a children's Lit class. Even so, the haunting tale of Jess and Leslie stayed with me ever since, and I was both concerned and delighted when I heard of the Disney version's coming release. Someone earlier said the trailers were misleading, and they were but intentionally so. Anyone who had read the book prior to seeing this tale KNOWS it's not about the special effects. So where does that leave us? With a slew of unbelieveable performances.
I knew of Robert Patrick mainly through the Terminator 2 and X-Files, so I wondered if he could pull off a role like this. The man is magnificent as Jess' father. Rough, rugged, and tough, he looks like a man who's fought with the devil and spit in his eye...yet he is tender and caring towards his son when tragedy strikes...and not one scene of it feels false or fake.
What is there to say about Zooey Deschanel (sp?) except that the woman is an immense, and so far, undertapped talent. Discovered in Will Farrell's "Elf", she once again shines as the school's music teacher.
The film, however, belongs to Jess and Leslie, and the supporting actors obviously knew and understood this. There is not a single adult that gives a heavy-handed performance. From the girls who play Jess' teenage sisters, all the way to his initially mean-spirited teacher at the beginnings of the film, each one shines in his or her own right. Their performances are moving and just right.
The stars are magnificent: Josh and AnnaSophia are perfectly cast. I know several people thought Miss Robb was a little too "modern" or "perfect-looking" for the role of Leslie, but I would strongly disagree. She is the perfect tomboy....note the scene in which she wears a beautiful dress to church, along with combat boots. It is her spark, her zest for life, that helps make the last half of the movie what it is. Josh is fantastic as Jess as he slowly suspends belief in order to join Leslie in the world of Terabithia...and no young man has ever dealt with such harsh tragedy on screen better than he. Oh, and the musical score is superb. This is truly the first flawless film of 2007.
You are forewarned...boxes of kleenex are strongly recommended for viewing of this film if you've not seen it. I have seen it 3 times and every time I have spent the last half hour in tears. This is Disney magic at it's best, reminiscient of their work in the 1970s (Old Yeller, etc.). You will laugh, and unless you have a heart of stone, you WILL cry...but most of all, you will find a message of the heart that will stand for eternity.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I'm surprised that the MPAA gave Bridge to Terabithia a PG rating....Not because I think that it should have been given a more restrictive rating, but because the MPAA is so conservative these days with movies for kids that might be "too deep" or might "make a child sad".
Bridge to Terabithia is indeed a kid's movie, with a couple of kids (Josh Hutcherson & AnnaSophia Robb) turning in a couple of moving performances. My oldest was captivated. My middle-guy thought that it as "awesome". When I asked my youngest if it was a good movie...well...I got a "no". But my youngest was definitely as captivated as my oldest. In fact, this was originally a rental for us, but we picked up the Blu-ray edition after my youngest was so upset when I returned the rental.
Here's the thing: They just don't make movies like Bridge to Terabithia for kids anymore; or, if they do, it usually gets smacked with a PG-13. But Bridge to Terabithia is no more frightening or deep than The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz (Two-Disc Special Edition) , My Girl My Girl or Old Yeller Old Yeller (Vault Disney Collection) .
Bridge to Terabithia is much more about childhood issues and dealing with them than fantasy and folklore. It's also a tale of what tweens might do to have fun--use their imagination--in their spare time....They dream of a magic place where they are The King and Queen of Terabithia. (The movie is based on the 1977 children's novel of the same name by Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia .) This movie will also present that life is not always so rosy at times, so if you're the type that wants to hide that fact from your kids then you might be disappointed with Bridge to Terabithia.
In the film, one of the kids is even invited by his teacher (Zooey Deschanel) on what ultimately ends up being a private excursion to a museum; and I must say that during the scene my wife and I looked at each other and we were like, "Oh no, what's going on here?" Well...nothing....The female teacher took the young male student (who indeed clearly had a crush on the teacher) to a museum. Nothing else. It just goes to show what a different world we live in today where you (sadly) can't trust a situation like that from the days of Old Yeller where Barney Fife might show up and not arrest the teacher, but instead suggest that they all stop by the local ice cream parlor on the way home.
Bridge to Terabithia is a very good movie...a family movie...that might frighten at times; it might make a kid think at times; and it might make a kid cry here and there.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2007
Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia YA 1977 novel is a classic. One I never read when I was a kid, but I understand it's quite beloved and indeed sacred to some -- not the least of which is Paterson's son David, for whom the book was written and who also shares a screenwriting credit on the film. So, everything had to be just right: from the human-being casting, to the use of special effects which help bring the fantasy kingdom of Terabithia to life.
When the movie came out on the big screen earlier this year every trailer, TV spot and preview showed trolls, ogres, and magical, spontaneously self-buildings bridges springing up. It looked like Lord of Rings on kiddie-safe steroids. But the movie itself isn't about all that, which understandably wrought a bit of a backlash from those not familiar with the novel's very real, grounded themes about regular kids and their very normal day-to-day struggles.
The story follows Jesse (Josh Hutcherson), a fifth-grader who's not terribly popular. There is nothing wrong with him, but there's nothing "right" either. He's not outgoing, rich or popular, but he is something of an athlete -- that is, until the new student in his class, a slip of a girl named Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) beats him in a footrace. At first, he holds a grudge but before long the two dreamy, artistic kids become best friends, and allies against the school's bully brigade. Their secret refuge is a tree-house in the woods, a place Leslie calls Terabithia. The children imagine all sorts of wondrous and scary things there, in an attempt to free their minds from their otherwise troubled lives (Jesse's parents are struggling financially, while only-child Leslie feels neglected by her busy dad and mom).
Since Disney optioned this book, you can bet there's some tears to be jerked -- but it's an ultimately uplifting, beautiful and honest portrayal of life-lessons learnt in childhood. Hutcherson and Robb are very well-cast and their acting is pretty much flawless (none of the "cutesy" or "obnoxious" child-actor antics here). Real kudos go to director Gabor Csupo, who not only grasped (as best as I can tell) the source material, but added cinematic dimension to it for those who are not familiar with the novel. (I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with his next project, The Moon Princess -- based on a book I did read, and loved!, as a child: The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge).
The DVD offers an array of extras (and nice supplements, such as closed captions for the hearing-impaired), my favorite of which was a solid featurette on Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia novel. It offers interviews not only with the author herself, but insight from teachers who've assigned the book to their classes over the years, plus excerpts from the text and illustrations.
Over all, Bridge to Terabithia is a definite must-buy DVD for kids and Disney-weaned adults alike.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I never had the opportunity to read Katherine Paterson's Newberry Award winning children's book "Bridge to Terabithia" because I was in college by the time it was published, and for some reason that is completely lost in the mists of the past I actually had in my mind that it was a story about the Holocaust, or at least set in Eastern Europe. But if I have had the wrong idea about the story for the past several decades the trailers that were put out for this film version only served to supplant my original erronous idea with a different ones. The trailers made me think that I was going to watch something akin to "The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," but of course now that I have seen this 2007 film the obvious point of reference is "Pan's Labyrinth". Obviously I am not the only one to notice the quantum gap between what we saw in the trailer and what we got in the film, but I have seen my fair share of stupid ad campaigns for pretty good movies and in the final analysis that is what this film is, so forget the stupid trailers.
"Bridge to Terabithia" is not a special effects movie but a movie about a special friendship. Jesse Arons (Josh Hutcherson, "Zathura") is taunted, teased, and bullied at school and takes refuge in his drawing, but his family is oblivious to his artistic talents. Then Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb, "Because of Winn-Dixie") walks into his life as the new girl in class. As extroverted as Jess is introverted, Leslie turns out to be a kindred spirit whose talent is for writing. At first Jess treats her as horribly as everybody else as the new girl assumes the spot at the bottom of the school's pecking order. But they have too much in common and they become friends, doing everything together, including exploring the woods and finding the special place she named Terabithia where parents and chores, bullies and kid sisters, can be left behind.
There is no need to say more because you deserve to discover how this one plays out for yourself. The cast features Robert Patrick as Jesse's overworked father and Zooey Deschanel as the kid's music teacher, Ms. Edmonds, but this film favors the kids over the adults while making it clear they live in the real world, even with the wonders of Terabithia. I especially like the way the plotline regarding the schoolyard bully, Janice Avery (Lauren Clinton), plays out, even more than what Josh and Leslie come up with for Gary Fulcher (Elliot Lawless) and Scott Hoager (Cameron Wakefield) in Terabithia. My understanding is that the screenplay by David L. Paterson and Jeff Stockwell is quite faithful to the book, although obviously those who have read it would know far better than me. But at least now I know what the book is about and why it is one of the most beloved children's books of the last thirty years.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2008
I can't express how surprising it is to me to come here to review this movie, and to see that some people actually rated it a 1. Everyone has different tastes, and different ideas of what constitutes a good film. But "Bridge to Terabithia" is one of those films that, for me at least, crosses all boundaries and has something to offer to each and every person.
I won't recap the plot, as I'm sure you will find plenty of other reviews here that do just that. But first I have to say that the young leads in this movie, Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, are the heart and soul of this movie. Little Bailee Madison also hold her own. Too often these days filmmakers rely on the dazzling CGI and the heart-pounding action sequences to drive the story. But in this film, whether by intent or not I can't say for sure, these kids take the reigns from the very start and they drive the story forward with the skill that many far older actors could stand to learn.
"Bridge to Terabithia" reminds me of films like "Old Yeller," and of books like "Where the Red Fern Grows," with a bit of "The Wizard of Oz" wonder thrown in for good measure. Yes, there is sadness and loss in this movie, and I know that turns some people off. But there is sadness and loss in the real world, and try as we might, sometimes it hits so close to home that we can't protect our children from it. I would not suggest it for very little kids, or for those who are fragile emotionally. But there are lessons to be learned from this film, about friendship and love and feeling like a freak or an outsider (I could tell you stories about the last item for sure!), and also on how to deal with grief and loss. Those aren't things you learn after you become an adult. Those are things we must learn when we're young and wide-eyed and open-minded. Those are the lessons that help us become adults.
"Bridge to Terabithia" is one of those films that you really should let you children see. And I suggest that you sit down and watch it with them. It's rare to see a film that can actually foster the growth of family bonds and also provide life lessons for your kids in a fun and exciting way. Don't miss this little gem of a film. The hype around it when it was originally released was great. But in truth, the film itself is far, far better than the hype ever let on.
- Gregory Bernard Banks, author.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2007
On the surface, the concept for "Bridge to Terabithia" is quite sad: it centers on two adolescents, both of which are lonely and misunderstood. They then bond and create their own fantasy world, one that reinterprets the harsh realities of their daily lives into extraordinary creatures and settings. It's very easy to think that such escapism isn't healthy in a relationship, especially in one that's formed during such a dynamic and turbulent stage of development. But there's so much more going on here, so many different themes, ideas, and commentaries that are at work. This is not a light and airy children's fable of princes and princesses, nor does it attempt to sugarcoat everything that's even remotely unpleasant in this world. This is an incredibly powerful story of friendship, the fortitude of the imagination, and the strength to overcome adversity.
The first of the two adolescents is Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson). He doesn't exactly live an ideal life; not only does his family barely live from paycheck to paycheck as farmers, they also virtually ignore him. Going to school is even worse; he hasn't any friends, and he's at the mercy of a couple of school bullies. One sits behind him in class, yelling things like, "Beep! Beep! Beep! That's my loser detector!" Jesse has two forms of escape. One is running, which he hopes to perfect so he can embarrass anyone who gave him a hard time. The other is drawing; he carries a sketchpad wherever he goes, and he frequently fills a page with fantastical creatures of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
The second adolescent is Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), a free spirit in every sense. Because she was able to run faster than any of the boys, Jessie initially feels threatened by her. But then the class is asked to write a one-page essay on their favorite hobbies. The teacher asks Leslie to read hers aloud due to her fluid, descriptive language. Both Jessie and the audience immediately understand that the teacher made the right decision; as she reads an incredibly mature and creative essay on scuba diving, he visualizes what she's describing. Fish swim in his eyes. Bubbles exit her mouth and float away. At that point, the connection is made; she expresses herself through language while he does so through art. Both rely heavily on their imaginations. These two were meant to be in each other's lives.
In wanting to escape the monotony and pain of the everyday world, the two run into the woods, swing across a rope, and create a world of their own. Leslie calls it Terabithia, a magical kingdom imprisoned by the elusive Dark Master. She and Jessie have been sent to free the Terabithians and restore peace. At first, Jesse has a hard time visualizing this fantastic world. But then Leslie gives him a piece of advice: "Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open." Suddenly, everything becomes clear, not just for Jessie, but for the audience, as well. They incorporate an abandoned tree house and the surrounding trees and animals into their world: the squirrels and birds become minions of the Dark Master (interestingly, these evil creatures say things like "Beep! Beep! Beep!"); the dragonflies become the army sent to protect Jessie and Leslie; the trees become gigantic trolls.
They retreat to this world as often as they can, despite the demands of school, family, and everyday living. This is something Jesse's father (Robert Patrick) has a difficult time understanding; while he is at heart a good man, having bills to pay and a family to feed leaves no room for an imagination. He wants his son to get his head out of the clouds and pay attention to his chores, his homework, and the welfare of the family. At one point, Jesse misplaces his father's keys; when they seem to be permanently lost, the only option is to replace them all and buy a new set of locks. This prompts his father to shout, "Why don't you just draw me some money?"
Leslie's parents (Latham Gaines and Judy McIntosh) are interesting; like their daughter, they have active imaginations and spend most of their time writing. Surprisingly, having so much in common hasn't brought the three of them together. If anything, it's driving them further apart; her parents are always too absorbed in their work to notice her. This isn't to say that they--or Jessie's parents, for that matter--are bad people; I never once got the sense that they were willfully neglectful, despite not being as attentive as they should be. I saw them as people so wrapped up in everyday life that they've forgotten how to actually live. For this reason, Jessie and Leslie are viewed differently; their minds are transcendent.
Truth be told, transcendence is one of the movie's most important themes. Consider the character of Janice Avery (Lauren Clinton); she's initially portrayed as a good-for-nothing bully, pushing everyone around for no reason other than because she can. She steals people's food. She charges admission to the bathroom. She unfairly accuses Jessie of things he didn't do. At first, we're not supposed to care about her. But then Leslie hears her crying in the girls' bathroom. After some coaxing, she finally works up the courage to talk to her. As it turns out, Janice is a deeply hurt soul, the product of an abusive father. I won't say whether or not this appeals to Janice's better nature, but I will say that the willingness to explore such an issue makes for a deeper, more satisfying experience.
Despite everything I've been saying, I fear that this review hasn't succeeded in conveying just how amazing "Bridge to Terabithia" is. It's amazing as an examination of the connections certain people make. It's amazing as a testament to the endless possibilities of the imagination. It's amazing as a message to think freely and to not be bogged down. We need this kind of film in our lives, if not for the sake of entertainment, then for the sake of being emotionally rejuvenated. I find myself going back to Leslie's advice: "Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open." Not only do I urge you to see this film, I also urge you to follow that piece of advice as you watch.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
'Bridge to Terabithia' is a portal to a better life for children and teens. Not simply a call to exercise one's imagination in an electronic age, 'Bridge...' never goes too far to illustrate kids making best use of their resources, including sifting all the elements of boredom, bullying, and fear that resonate in their lives. Sort of like 'Pan's Labyrinth' for children, country kids Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) and newcomer Leslie (Anna Sophia Robb) both find a land of enchantment that's only a swing on a rope away across the river. Mending their lives and making it more meaningful, they both learn to enjoy and draw--pun intended--from their talents and friendship in their ordinary lives.
Based on Katherine Patterson's Newbery Award winning novel, 'Bridge to Terabithia' is a list topping family movie that adults will love as well.