10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Condensed, but creative eye-candy,
Condensing 5 books into one film can hurt storylines and make for lots of undeveloped characters. But the archetypes in Spiderwick are so familiar (like the abbreviated Potter movies) that it is less of a disadvantage than you would think. We, as objective movie viewers have to let go of the expectation for the Holy Grail of the perfect book-to-film translation and face that the mediums are apples and oranges. This is an easy task for me this time because I haven't read any of the Spiderwick series. But having said that, my children and I, enjoy the film. The look of the "world" created in the spirit of the books were originally stylized enough to make it a departure from the world of Hogwarts (which is no small accomplishment when you also have trolls and griffins.
Typical of the archetypes of the genre, you have the child-outsider of a broken (or bent) home who blunders into a magic world, along with quirky, sometimes ill-mannered, but ultimately well-meaning siblings and finally the single parent who doesn't believe a word-of it. The kid opens a book he shouldn't (like who would read a book that has "Do not open" on the cover, it should have read: don't open infested with Lice!" that would have kept `em out!) and then spends the film trying to make things right and bonding with his estranged family.
Production is pretty eye-candy using visual designers of the Henson school of creature making. John Horner (the not-Williams) composes a face paced soundtrack that matches the speed of the story and slows appropriately of the sappier moments of the movie. The cast is a watchable bunch of not-overly attractive kids, along with some voice cameos like Martin Short and Nick Nolte, not without distinction, plays the badie (physically sometimes) well enough.
We enjoyed the film and, if there isn't higher praise than this let me know, we were inspired to check-out the Spiderwick Chronicles book series at our local library to fill in all the plot holes.