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Mark Waters
Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Nick Nolte
Writing Credits:
Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum, John Sayles

Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures.

Box Office:
$90 million.
Opening Weekend
$19,004,058 on 3847 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 6/24/2008

• “ It’s All True!” Featurette
• “It’s a Spiderwick World” Featurette
• “Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide” Text Feature
• “Meet the Clan” Featurette
• “Making Spiderwick” Featurette
• “The Magic of Spiderwick” Featurette
• “A Final Word of Advice” Featurette
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Nickelodeon TV Spots
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Spiderwick Chronicles [Blu-Ray] (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 20, 2021)

After the success of 2005’s Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, other “kid-oriented” fantasy novels reached theaters. Alas, these failed to prosper.

First 2007’s The Golden Compass underperformed, and then 2008’s The Spiderwick Chronicles failed to reach a mass audience. They grossed $74 million and $71 million, respectively, so neither bombed, but neither set the foundation for a successful franchise.

Generally dull and uninventive, I didn’t think Compass deserved more popularity, but I was interested to see if Spiderwick should have obtained greater success. The film introduces us to the Grace family, the new inhabitants of a mysterious old house. Angry about his parents’ recent split, Jared (Freddie Highmore) actively resists this move, but his older sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and meek twin brother Simon (Highmore again) accept it more readily.

We learn a little about the house’s dark history, as “crazy Aunt Lucinda” claimed her father Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) was abducted by faeries. Jared dismisses this as nutty at first, but he soon learns that there’s something strange at work in the house.

When he hears noises in the walls, he discovers a dumb waiter. Jared takes it to a secret room where he locates Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, a documentation of all the monsters and amazing creatures who hide in plain sight.

Evil ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) wants the book, and he kidnaps Simon to expedite that process. Jared rescues his twin but that doesn’t solve the problem. Jared and his siblings attempt to thwart Mulgarath’s wicked plans.

Chronicles comes from Nickelodeon Films, and we see that cable channel’s influence. The network made its bones with shows that exploited kids’ move for mess and goop, so the presence of many disgusting scenes shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Actually, the flick wasn’t as bad as I expected given its preponderance of nasty critters, but those with a low tolerance for grossness should avoid it. Otherwise, Chronicles offered a pleasant surprise.

When I saw previews for it, I thought it looked almost wholly uninteresting, so I wasn’t all that eager to check out the disc. Now that I’ve seen the flick, I can’t say it enchanted me, but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated.

Much of the credit goes to Highmore for his dual performances. He creates two unique personalities without resorting to cheap tics or tactics to differentiate them. Both Jared and Simon feel like natural, real characters, and Highmore helps ground the film with his fine acting.

I will admit I could live without the “broken home” side of Chronicles. That aspect of the story feels unnecessary, as it adds no emotional heft to the tale. Instead, it seems forced and occasionally sends the flick into Afterschool Special territory.

Despite that misstep, I like Chronicles. Director Mark Waters doesn’t do anything to turn Chronicles into a reinvention of the fantasy format, but he gives the flick enough oomph to succeed.

The film moves briskly and offers a good mix of interesting characters and scenarios. This isn’t a tremendously creative and original affair, but it stands out as something involving and fun.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

The Spiderwick Chronicles appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film consistently offered positive visuals.

Not too many issues affected sharpness. Some wide shots tended to be a smidgen soft, but those instances were acceptably minor and infrequent. Overall, the movie appeared accurate and well-defined.

No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I thought edge enhancement remained absent. Source flaws also failed to materialize, and the movie came with a nice layer of grain.

In terms of colors, Chronicles provided a subdued palette. It veered toward a mix of blue and amber. Within its sense of design, the hues looked appropriate.

Blacks were dense and deep, while shadows seemed clear and concise. This was a satisfying transfer.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Chronicles proved to be similarly pleasing. With all its action and creatures, the soundfield boasted a number of good sequences.

Various beasties cropped up from all around the spectrum, and they added good life to the flick. These created a nice sense of place and activity throughout the film.

Audio quality was also positive. Speech appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other flaws. Music sounded bright and lively, and effects worked well, too.

Those elements were accurate and dynamic. Bass response came across as deep and firm. This wasn’t a killer soundtrack, but it seemed good enough for a “B+”.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio boasted superior range and impact, while visuals seemed better defined and more natural. Though the DVD worked fine for its format, the Blu-ray topped it.

The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras, and Spiderwick: It’s All True! presents a seven-minute, four-second featurette. We get notes from director Mark Waters as he covers the movie’s fantastical characters and concepts.

This is a cutesy piece that doesn’t tell us much we can’t already figure out from the movie. It seems unnecessary to me.

It’s a Spiderwick World goes for eight minutes, 44 seconds as it features Waters, co-creator/author/executive producer Holly Black, co-creator/illustrator/executive producer Tony DiTerlizzi, the Kennedy/Marshall Company’s Kathleen Kennedy, producer/screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick, and producer Mark Canton.

“World” tells us a little about the inspirations for the novels as well as how the books made it to the screen. This is a rudimentary look at the background behind the movie, but it satisfies.

Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide can be accessed in two different ways. There’s an “In-Movie” version that allows you to check out the information as the film progresses, and there’s a separate non-interactive edition as well. I prefer the latter, as it offers the less intrusive way to obtain the details.

In the “Field Guide”, we find facts about the various magical creatures seen in the film. We learn about boggarts, brownies, sprites, goblins, hobgoblins, ogres, griffins, trolls, the Seeing Stone, and protection from magical creatures. These appear as pages from Spiderwick’s book, and they’re a fun addition.

Spiderwick: Meet the Clan goes for 13 minutes, 54 seconds and includes remarks from Waters, Kennedy, Kirkpatrick, and actors Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Sarah Bolger, Andrew McCarthy, Seth Rogen, and David Strathairn.

The show looks at cast, characters and performances as well as some technical notes about the “twins” shots and makeup. Some of the expected “everyone was great” fluff appears here, but we find more than a few interesting notes about the actors and their work. This turns into an enjoyable piece.

Next comes the 20-minute, 53-second Making Spiderwick. It provides comments from Black, Kennedy, Waters, DiTerlizzi, Bolger, Highmore, Kirkpatrick, Parker, production designer James Bissell, director of photography Caleb Deschanel, illustrator Meinert Hansen, property master Claire Alary, creature supervisor Phil Tippett, ILM visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman, stunt coordinator Dave McKeown, composer James Horner, and special effects supervisor Michael Lantieri.

The program covers sets and locations, props and various visual design choices, effects concerns, stunts, cinematography, music, and other complications. While not a particularly in-depth program, “Making” does a competent job. It examines a good mix of subjects in a satisfying manner.

The Magic of Spiderwick goes for 14 minutes, 23 seconds as it features Waters, Tippett, Helman, Tippett Studio lead animator Michael Brunet, Tippett Studio visual effects supervisor Joel Friesch, Tippett Studio CG supervisor Russell Darling, ILM visual effects supervisor Tim Alexander, ILM visual effects art director Christian Alzmann, ILM animation supervisor Tim Harrington, and ILM digital artist lead Jean Bolte.

“Magic” examines character design and visual effects. Obviously it takes a technical tone, but it looks at the material in a reasonably lively manner. A lot of good notes appear in this enjoyable show.

Lastly, A Final Word of Advice… runs a mere one minute, 51 seconds. In it, Waters simply “reminds” us that everything in the movie is real, so we’d better keep an eye out for crazy critters.

Four Deleted Scenes fill a total of eight minutes, 14 seconds. These include “Mom and Jared” (0:59), “Boys in Bedroom” (2:13), “Messy Kitchen” (3:01) and “Meet Lucinda” (2:01).

These offer a couple minor character bits and some additional exposition. The clips prove to be interesting but they wouldn’t have added much to the final flick.

A few ads finish the set. Nickelodeon TV Spots presents nine snippets that aired on the cable channel and they run a total of five minutes, four seconds.

Most are basic promotional material, but a few unique bits with the characters make things more interesting. Two Theatrical Trailers conclude the package.

The Spiderwick Chronicles doesn’t always excel, but it entertains more than I anticipated it would. The film provides an involving fantasy world and keeps us interested. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with a few useful extras. This is an appealing family flick.

To rate this film visit the original review of SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

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