The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

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Released 30-Jul-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of-It's All True & It's a Spiderwick World
Active Subtitle Track-Field Guide
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 91:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:30) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Waters
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Freddie Highmore
Sarah Bolger
Nick Nolte
Mary-Louise Parker
Joan Plowright
David Strathairn
Seth Rogen
Jordy Benattar
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music James Horner

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

The Spiderwick Chronicles is yet another in a rash of recent live action adaptations of popular children's fantasy books such as Narnia, The Golden Compass, Bridge to Terabithia, Eragon, Lemony Snicket and others. Some have been better films than others, some have been more successful at the box office than others (not always the same ones). This film made a respectable $71 million at the US box office and a good take in the rest of the world. According to the extras, the film was based upon the entire series of short books rather than just one. I have not read the books so cannot really comment on this film as an adaptation of the books. I will focus on my impressions of it as a movie.

The story follows the adventures of a family who move to their Aunt's old house in the woodlands of America. The family is made up of the recently separated mother, Helen Grace (Mary Louise Parker), her late teenage daughter, Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and twin young teenage sons, Jared & Simon (both played by Freddie Highmore). As soon as they arrive at the house, Jared makes it clear how unhappy he is to be there and that he blames his mother for his father leaving. Once they enter the house, Jared is the first to notice strange things going on. The rest of the family think he is paying tricks on them, so he investigates on his own. He discovers a dumb waiter hidden in the wall and uses it to ascend to a hidden attic room in the house. There he finds a book called Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Despite written warnings attached to the book he decides to read it and discovers that it is a book written by their Aunt's father, Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) chronicling his interaction with various fairies, sprites, goblins, ogres and brownies in the surrounding woodlands. The book describes all of them in detail including techniques for controlling their excesses. The first creature which Jared meets is a brownie called Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short) who has been left by Spiderwick to guard the book. The information in the book is greatly desired by the bad creatures led by a shape-shifting ogre called Molgorath (Nick Nolte). Jared and his family are soon under siege by Molgorath & his cohorts as they try to get the book. Joan Plowright also appears as Aunt Lucinda and Seth Rogen voices a very amusing Hobgoblin.

This is a very well realised children's fantasy adventure for the 10-14 year old crowd. I would consider this film a little too violent and the creatures a bit too scary (and realistic) for the under 10s. Obviously, others would not agree. Regardless is is an exciting and fast moving film with excellent CGI which has been expertly integrated into the live action. The cast all do a good job in their roles without anyone really standing out. The real strength of this film is its excellent pacing which keeps the action and story moving forward and wastes no time without rushing things. This results in a kid friendly 90 minute running time and a very watchable and interesting film for adults as well especially if you like films in this genre.

The film was well directed by Mark Waters (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls) and involved significant input from the authors of the books. James Horner provides a quality score.


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Transfer Quality


The video quality is excellent.

The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The picture was clear and sharp throughout. Shadow detail is excellent.

The colour was wonderful representing the colours of the woodlands and creatures very well indeed.

There were no noticeable artefacts.

There are subtitles in English and English for the hearing impaired which were clear and easy to read. However, some lines of subtitles were badly timed compared to the spoken dialogue. You cannot change subtitles on the fly with this disc as one of the extras uses a subtitle stream.

The layer change occurs at 54:30 causing a significant and obviously placed pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The audio quality is very good.

This DVD contain one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand although some lines proved a bit of a challenge.

The score by James Horner sounds very good especially during the closing credits.

The surround speakers were used regularly for providing atmosphere and the sounds of the various creatures especially the crowds of goblins.

The subwoofer was used a lot during the various chase and fight scenes especially during the underground chase, the finale and the flight of the Griffin.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Extras are 16x9 enhanced and include optional subtitles.


The menu was well designed included music & motion and some movie related cursors on different menus.

Spiderwick : It's All True (7:06)

A fairly foolish featurette in which the director tries to convince us that teh story in the movie is actually true. He also explains the various creatures in the film.

It's a Spiderwick World (8:46)

Short promo-style making of focused on the books and the process of getting the story to the screen.

Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide

Text and drawing pages for each creature in the film as they would appear in the field guide. There are generally two pages for each creature and a link to the piece of the film where they are introduced.

Field Guide in Movie Mode

The same ext material as the previous extra however this time it is accessed by a icon which appears in the movie as each creature appears for the first time. This is enabled using a subtitle stream and appears as a book onscreen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The single disc releases of this film are the same in Regions 1,2 & 4. A two-disc SE is available in the US with more extras. The film is also available here and in the US on Blu-ray.


An exciting and well paced children's fantasy adventure.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is very good.

The disc has a small collection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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