The Spiderwick Chronicles

Critics Consensus

The Spiderwick Chronicles is an entertaining children's adventure, with heart and imagination to spare.



Total Count: 146


Audience Score

User Ratings: 355,066
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Movie Info

Peculiar things start to happen the moment the Grace family (Jared, his twin brother Simon, sister Mallory and their mom) leave New York and move into the secluded old house owned by their great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick. Unable to explain the strange disappearances and accidents that seem to be happening on a daily basis, the family blames Jared. When he, Simon and Mallory investigate what's really going on, they uncover the fantastic truth of the Spiderwick estate and the creatures that inhabit it.

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Freddie Highmore
as Jared Grace/Simon Grace
Mary-Louise Parker
as Helen Grace
Sarah Bolger
as Mallory Grace
Andrew McCarthy
as Richard Grace
Joan Plowright
as Aunt Lucinda
David Strathairn
as Arthur Spiderwick
Jordy Benattar
as Young Lucinda
Tod Fennell
as Helen's Co-Worker
Jeremy Lavalley
as Tow Truck Driver
Seth Rogen
as Hogsqueal
Martin Short
as Thimbletack
Nick Nolte
as Mulgarath
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Critic Reviews for The Spiderwick Chronicles

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (117) | Rotten (29)

Audience Reviews for The Spiderwick Chronicles

  • Sep 14, 2016
    Talk about a lukewarm fantasy film. That's not a derogatory as it may have come across, since I ended up thinking that this was a solid little movie. What I mean by that is the fact that in a lot of these films, you end up being taken on this epic adventure to a faraway and fantastical land that's unlike anything you would ever see on earth. This movie is nothing like that. It takes place in the 'real' world and the only thing fantasy about it are these mythological creatures that surround the characters who are only seen if they want to be seen or if a hobgoblin spits in your face, which gives you the ability to see them without a special stone that you can see through. So that's what I meant when I meant it was more lukewarm. The locations are pretty straightforward and simple and, to me, honestly, that's one of the things that does hold this film back. The fact that the locations are so mundane particularly when compared to other films in this same genre. Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter or even Percy Jackson. There's one scene where a griffin takes the kids to this place that's more fantastical where the author of the field guide has been kept for over 80 years. But it's just the one scene and it doesn't really even go for that long. It is what it is and I'm sure that the film is somewhat faithful to the book, but the locations of the film really don't do much to inspire a sense of wonderment usually attached to these types of films. But that's really about my only major complaint as I found the film, its pacing and its acting all fairly solid. Freddy Highmore is a really damn good actor, so he does a good job at carrying this film. Thematically speaking, the film isn't exactly the best. The problem with the narrative is the fact that the ogre wants to destroy the field guide that Arthur Spiderwick wrote for some reason whatsoever. Like they never really elaborate on why the ogre wants to destroy the field guy or why it's so important. Perhaps the idea is that with the guide destroyed then they could do whatever they want whenever they wanted, without having to worry about barriers being placed around houses so that they get past them. I don't fucking know, the movie does a shit job at explaining why the field guide is so damn important. They literally had one job and they failed at that. So, yea, that was stupid. Everything else was all solid. Nothing to write home about, of course, but it was all perfectly enjoyable. Again, one of the film's strongest points is the fact that the pacing is excellent. No scene goes too long, but, of course, that means that there's also not much room for in-depth character development, which I guess is fine in a movie like this, where it's more about the fantastical aspects of the story. That's about it. While it falls short of other films in the same genre, this movie still offers an inoffensive and solid experience. Not like you should go out of your way to see this, but if you got a couple of hours to kill, then this won't drive you nuts. It's on Amazon Prime too, so that's even better.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2013
    "The Chronicles of Spiderwick"-I mean, "The Ogre, the Goblin and the Fantasy Book"-I mean... something else that has to do with "The Chronicles of Narnia". No, this is isn't that much like "Narnia", but it is about some kid trying to save a magical world, and on top of that, it's produced by Nickelodeon, the poor man's Disney. Eh, forget all that, because this isn't even edgy enough to be the somewhat Disneyfied "Chronicles of Narnia", or at least it isn't to Freddie Highmore, because after "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", something that Tim Burton considered his much less dark young adult fantasy flick, this flick about goblins and ogres is toddler stuff, you know, until you're faced with the most terrifying monster of them all: Nick Nolte. Nolte's character is an ogre who can change into a human, or whatever Nick Nolte is, and I hear that a lot of kids really got scared when the ogre king in question was in his "human" form, which sounds about right. Outside of that, this film is so non-threatening that they have mythical creatures voiced by Seth Rogen and Martin Short, although they may have just gotten short because they needed someone as white as possible to play what Wikipedia describes as a "loyal house brownie". Slavery jokes aside (It's not funny... because I'm white and from the South, right?), it doesn't really matter what Short does, just as long as he's somewhere in this film, seeing as how they're trying to make it as white as possible. Yeah, I don't reckon this fantasy is all that dark, but it is decent, even with its problems. I won't so much say that this film is underdeveloped, as much as I would say that it's, if you will, unevenly developed, brushing over, if not abandoning elements of background information, only to attempt compensation by forcing exposition into the dialogue, which isn't to say that all that much development is needed, seeing as how most everything in this film is familiar. Even the mythology is derivative of plenty of other elements that we've seen in other, perhaps better fantasy flicks, and may even be a little tired at this point, and when it comes to the plot itself, it is comprised of character types and run-of-the-mill plot elements. The film is well-handled enough to be endearing, regardless of its familiarity, but at the end of the day, this is still an utterly predictable fantasy opus that is hardly anything new and, for that matter, hardly anything special. This is sheer family fluff, with a degree of tension, sure, but only so much in the way of a sense of consequence, which is not helped by a sense of aimlessness to a narrative that has only so much momentum to its progression, in spite of its supposedly being an adventure concept style. The film doesn't really have a whole lot of problems, but it does have a whole lot of limitations within a story concept that is plagued with familiarity and thinly drawn characters and conflicts, and whose directorial interpretation may have a little too much heart for its own good. There's a sense of ambition to director Mark Waters' storytelling that is thoroughly charming, but it also stresses limitations, as well as consequential shortcomings, such as the sloppy expository handlings and too much of a sense of conventionalism, which further reflect natural shortcomings until the final product fizzles out as just another family fantasy flick. That being said, on that level, this is a pretty fun fluff piece that may not have too much to keep you gripped, but certainly has plenty to entertain, particularly on a technical level. The visual effects really are something to behold, being delightfully creative and relatively seamless in their incorporation, crafting distinguished elements within a distinguished mythology, to the point of complimenting a genuine sense of wonderment. Sure, style is limited, but it's still very much present, offering plenty of eye candy that stands as a component to the selling of a narrative that is, not simply complimented, but carried by a charismatic cast. Well, to be honest, Sarah Bolger is hit-or-miss in her conventional portrayal of the older, teenaged sister character type, but most everyone else keeps consistent in their effectiveness, with Nick Nolte being effective as the antagonist and Seth Rogen and Martin Short being delightfully charming as eccentric creatures, while Freddie Highmore convinces exceptionally as twin brothers, one of whom is a nervous pacifist, with the other, our lead, being effective as a flawed, but apt and worthy hero. Talent is indeed there on the screen, not necessarily standing out, - as you can imagine, considering the dramatic limitations here - but reflecting a certain inspiration that is found at the heart of substance, whose potential for heart is actually pretty considerable. Now, as I've been saying, what really undercuts the final product as underwhelming is the natural shortcomings that limit meat, further watered down by formula, even within the mythology, which is still intriguingly well-put together behind a fun, if minimalist little adventure narrative, whose color is brought to life within Mark Waters' direction. Waters' plays on score work and style that sustain a brisk pace, which in turn sustains entertainment value, perhaps greatly, until we reach moments in which Waters matches ambition with inspiration found through slow-downs that really do absorb a sense of tension and resonance to flavor up engagement value. The film is not what it sometimes is, let alone what it wants to be: a very memorable and engaging fantasy flick for the whole family to be gripped by, but when it's all said and done, there's enough charm and entertainment value here to get you by with a fun final product, just not much outside of that. When the book is closed, a great deal of natural shortcomings are emphasized by expository issues, formulaic plotting and a sense of overambition, until the final product is rendered nothing more than an underwhelming fantasy flick that is run-of-the-mill, but still with a fun factor that is sustained by the story concept intrigue, outstanding visual effects, charismatic performances and endearing direction that make "The Spiderwick Chronicles" an enjoyable piece of fantasy filler for the family, even if it's not something to keep you all that engrossed. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 16, 2012
    The adventure is a bit too intense for children, but I absolutely loved, it was inventive and mature, a bit too mature for younger viewer. The film presented us with a high level of imagination and action packed adventure, the monsters were frightening, special effect worked well, it's a genuinely enjoyable film to watch.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2011
    Not bad, it really was fun actually. This isn't something amazing and a lot of people will forget about it, but it is a really good adaption and sure deserves some recognition.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer

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