The Spiderwick Chronicles - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Spiderwick Chronicles Reviews

Top Critic
Sarah Bryan Miller
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 18, 2008
The result is effective, if too intense for younger children.
Top Critic
Tom Charity
CNN.com
October 18, 2008
The storytelling is economical and brisk. In some ways, Waters approaches it more as a pre-teen horror movie.
Top Critic
Bob Mondello
NPR.org
October 18, 2008
Top Critic
Keith Phipps
AV Club
April 2, 2008
Fast-paced and filled with neat special effects, it's a sure kid-pleaser, albeit one that suffers from the very elements that make it go down so easily.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
February 19, 2008
I found it to be more irritating than scary, more tedious than exciting.
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
February 16, 2008
A pleasing melange under the direction of Mark Waters, who, after Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, is becoming the go-to auteur of traumatized youth.
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
February 15, 2008
A refreshingly spry, modest adventure.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
February 15, 2008
Meticulously rendered CGI creatures spike this dark adventure, shot marvelously by Caleb Deschanel.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
February 15, 2008
Director Mark Waters does a fine job meshing the fantastical with the quotidian.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
Top Critic
Amy Nicholson
I.E. Weekly
February 14, 2008
Instead of absorbing us into this magical landscape, this adaptation crams all five books together into a frenetic and frustrating 24-hour-escapade
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
February 14, 2008
A well-crafted family thriller that is truly scary and doesn't wimp out.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
February 14, 2008
For the uninitiated? Man, it's a bummer.
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
February 14, 2008
The movie, based on the best-selling series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, tells parallel tales of fathers who abandon their children, but it glosses over the trauma of those sagas in favor of special-effects-laden escapism.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Philip Marchand
Toronto Star
February 14, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles exemplifies a problem with many of today's fantasy-adventure movies: the sense that narrative values, such as the artful building of suspense, can be slighted because the computer-generated special effects are so good.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
February 14, 2008
As kids' movies go, this is no Harry Potter, but it's an enjoyable enough adventure -- with just enough scariness.
Top Critic
David Wiegand
San Francisco Chronicle
February 14, 2008
The film is graced with a mostly superb cast, superior special effects, a sparkling musical score by James Horner and a fantasy-filled plot with a bit of moralizing, but, fortunately, only a bit.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
February 14, 2008
The director does a nice job of juggling and blending the movie's tricky tones and storylines, which could have gone badly wrong at any juncture.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
February 14, 2008
Sloppy, secondhand pander.
| Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Kyle Smith
New York Post
February 14, 2008
The characters lack shadings -- Nolte's ogre is loud but uninteresting -- and the tone of the fantasy world isn't witty, like Harry Potter's, or satirical, like Lemony Snicket's. It's all just silly.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
February 14, 2008
Happily, Highmore has no trouble grasping the task at hand. As both the thoughtful Simon and the brash Jared, he transports himself into this literal faerie tale with such convincing enthusiasm, he turns us into believers, too.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
February 14, 2008
The story generates surprising emotional power.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Carina Chocano
Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2008
I kept wishing for another scene with Mulgarath in the form of Nolte, because, well, you can never have enough Nolte, and because his particular brand of kinetic insanity would have been just what the movie needed to shake up its clockwork smoothness.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
February 14, 2008
It has plentiful whimsy, a big enough heart and Joan Plowright in one fine scene, burbling magnificently. It treats its archetypes with all due seriousness: Good must engage evil in a final stand. And fatherless children must try to save the world.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
February 14, 2008
Passably entertaining if derivative.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
February 14, 2008
It's got thrills but is not allegorically deep or daunting like the Harry Potter or Narnia flicks. It skews young.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Nancy Churnin
Dallas Morning News
February 14, 2008
Part of what keeps this from being just another children's fantasy is director Mark Waters' sensitivity to the way the enchanted elements deepen the emotional journey.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Tasha Robinson
Chicago Tribune
February 14, 2008
It isn't quite the world of the books. But it's a perfectly magical and exciting one in its own right.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
February 14, 2008
In its way, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a ripsnorting, computerized update of E. Nesbit's old fantasy novels for children.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
February 13, 2008
Spiderwick is set in the present, but goes for an overall design look of dainty, cozy, William Morris-y arts-and-craftiness.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Gene Seymour
Newsday
February 13, 2008
As movie fantasies go, The Spiderwick Chronicles has a modest, almost ramshackle aggressiveness that, against all odds, manages to enchant, if not exactly transport.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
February 13, 2008
A top-drawer cast, sympathetic script, a director known for delicious teen edge and one of the great cinematographers of our time have conjured up a topical, whimsical and occasionally magical action-romp through a world we know, but don't fully see.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
February 13, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles, while not without its virtues (including a genuinely sweet ending), goes too far on the frightening front, especially for a young audience.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
February 13, 2008
There's enough here to keep adults engaged, which is an important component of any motion picture that wants to be known as 'family entertainment.' I would place The Spiderwick Chronicles comfortably in that category.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
David Germain
Associated Press
February 13, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles may not be in the same fantasy league as the tales of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. Yet the family flick based on the books of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black is an all-around class act.
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
February 13, 2008
For a story aimed at the moppet market, The Spiderwick Chronicles is one that holds the interest without unbalancing the I.Q.
Top Critic
David Fear
Time Out
February 13, 2008
The voice of the novels is lost in translation; what's left is something that's merely by the book.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/6
Top Critic
Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
February 12, 2008
An enjoyable adventure fantasy that pushes all the requisite buttons while still managing to throw in a pleasant surprise or two, Paramount's big-budget gamble has impressive talent to burn on both sides of the camera.
Top Critic
Justin Chang
Variety
February 12, 2008
A work of both modest enchantment and enchanting modesty, grounded in a classically Spielbergian realm where childlike wonderment crosses paths with the tough realities of young adulthood.
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
February 11, 2008
There's nothing wrong with it that passion and personality couldn't fix.