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Review

Harry gets caught up in THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES!

About 6 months ago I received a package with what felt like over a dozen different books on THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES. I’d heard there was a movie by Paramount coming, but they sent so many books and guides and the art of books – that it just seemed like everything, but the kitchen sink. They arrived shortly before a party here at the Carport of the Stars. I liked the creatures – but before we got to reading them, they got packed away. Then, at Christmas – as I was shopping for presents for my nephew – I called my sister from a bookstore to ask what level he was reading at – and she shocked me by saying he had started reading “Chapter Books” – and that everyone at his 1st Grade class are reading the SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES. Paramount has been… pretty aggressively campaigning me on this film. At FANTASTIC FEST they sent a clip that played before our screening of THERE WILL BE BLOOD… and I just didn’t feel it. I saw clips at something else – and it just didn’t seem to make sense. I suppose I should have read the books, but they’re in a box somewhere around here. Today, I sponsored a screening as an extra special part of my Saturday Morning Kids Club of THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES. I didn’t really know what the basic storyline was, beyond… a kid finds a book and it unlocks a world of goblins and ogres and faeries. However, as the credits rolled – I noticed something I didn’t know. I knew that the film was directed by Mark Waters – the man behind the remake of FREAKY FRIDAY and the much better MEAN GIRLS… but a man very unproven in terms of this type of film. A huge visual effects fantasy film. He’d hit the family film before, but nothing like this. What really struck me was the three names under the Screenplay by credit. David Berenbaum. He had written ELF… but what was scary was… he wrote ZOOM and HAUNTED MANSION – two of the worst written family effects film ever. Then there was Karey Kirkpatrick – he had his good side… THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, CHICKEN RUN and OVER THE HEDGE. But then – the third name on the screenplay credit was… JOHN SAYLES!?!?!?!? That’s right – one of the writers on this was John Sayles. Could I tell? Often times you see names that you just can’t fathom were a part of the finished product. Here – I completely could tell. This is a family fantasy film that is every bit a film about the power of fantasy and imagination – but at its heart – this is a film about surviving divorce, about struggling living with the parent that you blame for all the problems in your world, but is actually the source for everything that is right in your world. This is a fantasy film with its heart strongly anchored in the reality of painful family politics. The film begins with the creation of Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guild – which reveals the level of fantasy around this very special house that he lives in. Then, as suddenly as the movie begins, we’re rushed 80 years into the future – to a time, right around now. There’s a van with a pair of twin brothers and an older sister and a mom pulling up to a quiet, dark old house in the middle of the woods. Jared – the most unhappy twin with the situation they find themselves in, is at odds with the family. He doesn’t understand the divorce. He believes his Dad wants to come back and that his mom (Mary Louise Parker) is responsible for why Dad isn’t with him. He just wants his dad to come get him. Jared, like his twin Simon – is played by Freddie Highmore – and at the start of the film – I’m not at all behind him. I don’t understand why he’s so hard on his mother, yet the other two siblings seem so fine with her. What do they know, that he doesn’t? And if there is something, why don’t they tell him. He’s got a problem acting out his frustration with hitting things, by being non-responsive -- and the mother’s frustration is acted out by screaming… something she knows she has to stop – but its hard. The dynamic of a divorced single mother new home with kids – is actually quite accurate. I come from one, and I was not happy with my situation. I acted out too. Very quickly, the family dynamic has a new problem… Jared found his great uncle’s Field Guide – and despite a note warning him not to read it… what kid wouldn’t open a book with a warning not to read it? But when he opens it – it sends out a beacon… as if to tell the world… “Some idiot has touched the book” – in a way – it’s like the ring in LORD OF THE RINGS – but instead of indeterminate powers of darkness… this book has the secrets of magic and creatures. How to call a griffin into your service, how to form protective circles – and many many other rules to the magical realms. So much info, that it’s kinda like a Necronomicon for the Fantasy set. And an evil master ogre named Mulgrath (Nick Nolte) – wants that book and now knows that a human has access to it – so he sends his goblin hordes – armed with a mole troll to go get these kids. Now – how does this complicate the already complicated family dynamic? Well, nobody trusts Jared. He’s not necessarily the boy who cried wolf… but he is the boy that hates it here – and screaming about Goblins, Brownies, Ogres and monsters… well that doesn’t really sound rational. I’m not going to go much deeper into the story, because if you don’t know the plot twists and surprises it’s genuinely fun to see come to pass. The film this most reminded me of isn’t Harry Potter, nor is it THE PAGEMASTER – it reminds me of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. There is genuine menace and threat to this PG tale. The thrilling scary parts are actually thrilling and scary. Since LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER – there has been a ton of fantasy films coming out that want to become series. Now – I don’t know exactly how this works as a series – but I do love the world they create here. The Brownie, Thimbletack – voiced by Martin Short and the avian connoisseur, Hogsqueal the Hobgoblin voiced by Seth Rogan are both adorable, slightly threatening, but incredibly fun. What I love about the film is the set of rules it lays down about the universe. How to keep evil out. How to burn a goblin’s skin. What a hobgoblin eats. What to feed a Brownie to make him/her like you. What to say to get a Griffin to take you to a magical realm. It’s these little rules that I delighted in, and loved discovering. The effects work by Tippett Studios is again – remarkable. The Brownie Thimbletack is eerily realistic for something so whimsical. But more so, he’s a character – one that can blush, get angry, be frustrated and curious. Same with the character of Hogsqueal. He’s just a deliciously maniacal friendly creation – and how he blesses a human to see the magical realm – is delightful and grotesque. Very fun. Now here’s a warning – The screening was a complete success – an entire group of little girl Brownies was skipping down the hallway giddily talking about how it was just like the book. One very small boy – age 3 got really scared of Nick Nolte’s character when he first appeared, but when Nick left the screen, the boy came back in. There’s nothing to traumatize a young child in this movie, but it will thrill them. They could grab your arm or hide their eyes, but they’ll be compelled to look back at the screen. This is a lush and beautiful fantasy film – the griffin flying sequence is breathtaking, the faeries are stunning. The performances by Joan Plowright and David Strathairn and in particular Mary Louise Parker anchor the adult side of the tale. And the kids do react honestly… with awe, fear, wonder and excitement. I was genuinely surprised by this film, I didn’t expect the complexity of the family dynamic – the level of spectacle or the quality of the visual effects – and ultimately I didn’t expect to like the film and I very much did. Most of the adults in the room were really taken by how much they liked the movie, especially the parents. In fact, the only person I talked to at the screening that didn’t care for the film was my wife, Yoko – who was turned off by some of the violence and modern situations being mixed with the fantasy. But again, I feel that was an influence of John Sayles and something I liked quite a bit. If you liked or loved BRIDGE TO TEREBITHIA – this will really blow you away. It is leaps and bounds better than the LEMONY SNICKETT movie. Most importantly – it’s a big step up for director, Mark Waters – who did quite a bit of growing up with this film. This is a serious attempt at Family Fantasy Entertainment – very very well done. P.S. I forgot to put this in before posting, but damn - James Horner does a wonderful job of scoring this film. It's been a while since Horner did a score that really got me, but easily a third of the reason I got so involved in this was his score work. It'll be a great excuse to pick up a new Horner score!

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:20 p.m. CST

    Great Review

    by Solomon Kane

    Now I'll see it.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:28 p.m. CST

    2nd?

    by Lloyd Bonafide the Korean War Veteran

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:29 p.m. CST

    I don't care...

    by PirateEmery

    The part that is important is whether or not we KNOW that the Indy trailer is attached.<p> Doesn't AICN have contract over a crack team of ninjas that can find this out?

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Yes, the Indy trailer will be attached...

    by HEADGEEK

    and yes, I'll see this again, when it is.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Are there any movies Harry doesn't like?

    by Zardoz

    'cause he seems to give a positive review to EVERYTHING!

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:48 p.m. CST

    who's Jon Sayles?

    by Datascream

    This is sounding like a Dennis Miller joke.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:49 p.m. CST

    hey guys -

    by HEADGEEK

    I use my site a lot of times to avoid the bad shit - like why waste life on MEET THE SPARTANS or UNTRACEABLE? I know that apparently a lot of people apparently went to see MEET THE SPARTANS yesterday - but jesus - why must I? It's shit and it looks like shit.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 10:54 p.m. CST

    People went to see that?

    by ye olde shiza

    FUCK!

  • that is a big call, as bridge to terebithia was in my top 10 last year; just like pan's, a tale about kids that had a lot of value for adults.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:03 p.m. CST

    Damn that Harry!

    by HudLives

    and his abilty to make me excited about a film I had no intrest in!

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST

    Excited To See This. And I hope

    by georges garvaren

    it doesn't semi-tank like Lemony Snicket did, and we will be able to see sequals of possibly equal or grater value. Also, Harry, we need a DVD column. Maybe tomorrow? No NFL so, really, no excuse. Thanks little buddy. Hope you have been feeling well.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:05 p.m. CST

    I call bullshit

    by Spaz Medicine

    Are you telling me you read those first two screenwriting credits and immediately knew who they were and what they had done? No way.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:06 p.m. CST

    hauptman -

    by HEADGEEK

    I have a knack for knowing who writes the scripts I read.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Good casting with Nolte

    by Horace Cox

    Casting Nick Nolte as an ogre was brilliant. If he looks anything like he did in his DUI mugshot, think of all the time and money they saved on his makeup.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Meet the Spartans

    by PirateEmery

    When I saw a banner for that here (or elsewhere), I'm pretty sure my first thought was that it was a fake. There was NO WAY someone found the funding to make a straight parody of 300, so it must have been a "joke" ad.<p> Imagine my surprise to see a trailer for the bloody thing... It really exists! So, I guess I appreciate the desire to "protect" us from this cinema filth...<p> And thanks for the update on the Indy trailer. Is there anything you can tell us?

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:13 p.m. CST

    Bored of the rings... and all this other fantasy gloop.

    by IAmMrMonkey!

    I feel like I'm drowning in orc's poop and goblin spit. There's too many of these 'fantasy' epics around and, as Harry points out, they're all trying to create a series.<p>Tolkien's work is classic literature and, luckily, it was turned into a movie by someone with a lot of talen and an understanding of what looks good on the big screen. Harry Potter was a phenomenon and luckily the movies managed to catch some of the magic that delighted kids all over the world. But now it should stop. Take your Spiderwicks, your Compasses and whatever else, and put them away. If anything, let's have some good sci-fi movies. Halo is still out there. Let's get that greenlit and turn into something good. No more orcs. No more goblins. No more talking lions.<p>Thankyou.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:27 p.m. CST

    Sorry Harry but Leobloom is kinda right.

    by IAmMrMonkey!

    Well, actually he's completely right.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Did they cram all the books into one movie?

    by Drath

    I know you didn't read the books Harry, but if you only glance at the books they gave you, does it look like the movie covers only the first book or more? I seem to recall reading that the movie is all the books combined into one, so this would effectively be the one fantasy movie that's not out to be a series. It's better than the Lemony Snickett movie? But that was good! It should have had sequels made while the same kids could come back. Only bad thing I thought was that Jim Carrey seemed to be playing a part that should have gone to John Malkovich. Also I thought Series of Unfortunate Events was a much better offering than the Golden Compass ended up being (and reportedly The Dark is Rising as well, but I didn't see that one). Personally I can't stand people bitching about an abundance of fantasy movies. The fantasy genre has got nothing on the over exposure of the western and slasher horror genres, or super hero and science fiction movies either for that matter.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:37 p.m. CST

    I would actually enjoy ...

    by ye olde shiza

    A scathing review of something terrible from you, Mr. Knowles. I understand your defense, but I know that you've had to have seen some real shit sandwiches every week. Lock and load. Take dead aim on the shit movies. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:50 p.m. CST

    Yawn

    by critch

    Pretty sure that everyone here will be going to see the Indy trailer, and then moving over to watch "Jumper" when this hits. The trailer was dull and the story another Jumanji rip.

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Wait up. The real Seth Rogen..

    by thebearovingian

    or Seth RoGAN as Hogsqueal the hobgoblin? You know, KARR instead of KITT? Please tell me he does his hilarious Waterboy-inspired redneck Cajun linebacker laugh. Huhuhhuhuhh.<p> Spiderwick, Spiderwick.<p> Does whatever a Spiderwick does.<p>Watch out! Here comes the Spiderwick!

  • Jan. 26, 2008, 11:54 p.m. CST

    I know y'all would like me to review the shit and mediocre stuff

    by HEADGEEK

    and back when I didn't have an incredibly active non-site related life - I covered EVERYTHING and wrote long 1400 reviews of it all. But as I've gotten older - and after many years of such crazed writing spectacles and reviewing - I tend to be pickier. I don't want to get jaded and think of this as a chore. I'd rather find the stuff I love and share that with you. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll stumble into some stuff that'll piss me off and you'll get one of my famous - spitting flaming hail stones like loogies reviews. But right now... so far this year - I've avoided the OBVIOUS SHIT-TURDS - and left them to Massawyrm and others to digest and vomit the results out to you. January is an easy month to avoid shitbombs in. February and March is harder... you'll see me dislike more stuff there - probably because I'll get suckered with expectations into something that I then react badly to.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:13 a.m. CST

    Double Post! Ban Him!!!

    by georges garvaren

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:15 a.m. CST

    Georges

    by HEADGEEK

    it's ok, I deleted that inconsiderate fucker's second post. Some people need tutoring on how to fucking use a goddamn computer.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:19 a.m. CST

    JBouganim1

    by HEADGEEK

    Dude - seeing is believing. I never get mad at people that criticize me. I don't know them, don't know their exact perspective - and I know that people that have only come to the site in the last 3 years have a very different view of me, from those who have been reading for 4-11 years. The site has a different personality from when I posted 95% of everything, with introductions to everybody's reviews at an average of 60-75 stories a week - 52 weeks a year. But things change.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:20 a.m. CST

    I Need Tutoring On How To Do My Fly Up

    by georges garvaren

    Because it was down today, and I mean like all fucking day because I was very busy and only found time to piss twice -once in the morning and once and night- and it was at night that I realized my doink was damn near on public display and must have been for 9 hours or so. Such a life. It was a great piss though.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:20 a.m. CST

    btw - come join the AICN Facebook group

    by HEADGEEK

    http://tinyurl.com/39cn4w

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:27 a.m. CST

    Just ignore him...

    by PirateEmery

    Or ban him, that works too...<p> But seriously, Harry, were you shown the godliness that is the Indy 4 trailer? Can you say anything about it?

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:31 a.m. CST

    Harry, A Question?

    by georges garvaren

    Longest Lasting Movie Binge? Consecutive hours? I'm a lightweight and can only clam to the Star Wars series plus Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Just curious.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:57 a.m. CST

    I am terribly excited to see this...

    by Bones

    Not only did my friends create the books, but a bunch of our personal heroes worked on the film. <p> You should have heard how excited Tony was when he found out Phil Tippett was doing the creature effects. When Tony told me John Sayles was taking a crack at the script my jaw hit the floor. The fact that James Horner did the score only makes it sweeter for us Geeks who grew up with great Eighties fantasy films.<p> This should be a great adventure for young and old. I am glad to hear that Mark Waters did a good job with it. He came on to the project right after Mean Girls came out and he was being approached for every hot ticket comedy in Hollywood. And this is what he was interested in. <p> My only regret is that it doesn't look more like the books--but Tony's illustrations are very stylized and beautiful in an Arthur Rackham kind of way, and maybe they wanted the film and books to retain their own looks and own worlds, similar to what Mignola and Del Toro did with the Hellboy films.<p> Now if there was only news on the adaptation of Tony's version of "The Spider and the Fly" by Mary Howlett...supposedly there was an animated film in the works a few years ago, but it kind of dropped under the radar. That book has some of the finest illustrations I have ever seen--the whole book is printed with black and silver, so it looks like a classic silent movie...he's a genius, that Tony DiTerlizzi!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:03 a.m. CST

    I'd love to read Harry's "Meet The Spartans" review...

    by IAmMrMonkey!

    What's the opposite of chocolate covered pussy juice?

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:07 a.m. CST

    Are you going to give Massa a full monty lapdance?

    by IAmMrMonkey!

    Because he's asking for it in his review, Harry. And I don't think he's joking. You know those funny looks he gives you when you're in the cinema together. Now you know why.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:14 a.m. CST

    Yes, it covers all 5 books

    by smurfberry

    I was lucky enough to attend the screening today (thanks for putting it together Harry!) along with my son, who has read the series. According to my son, the movie combines elements from all 5 books of the first Spiderwick series. (except the 4th, which he said they didn't really use anything from) For what it is worth, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from the movie. I was hoping it would be good, but I was afraid that it would be like the Potter movies - amusing for those who have read the series but really not very compelling when compressed down to a movie. At times this really did show, and you knew there was more to the story (like the plotline with the "crazy" aunt) but the movie does a really good job of creating what feels like a complete well-crafted story. If my son is any indication, they did it in a way that should please fans of the books. Oh, and for those asking about trailers, there were no trailers before the preview screening.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:32 a.m. CST

    the opposite of chocolate covered pussy juice is...

    by HEADGEEK

    shit coated leper cock

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:40 a.m. CST

    There's A Cream For That

    by georges garvaren

    I can drop some off. No prob, eh.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 3:22 a.m. CST

    BTW...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... if you want to know what the INDY 4 trailer is like, we already told you. Accurately.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:10 a.m. CST

    Spoiler Warning for Terabitha and Pan

    by theycallmemrglass

    I was upset with the end of Terabitha. Every children's movie must have their morals. I didnt get why the girl has to die at the end. That completely ruined my enjoyment of the film. What was the point of her dying? Is there a moral there somewhere? Or is the movie telling children, "sorry kid, you may die tomorrow, but chances are you may live". Now if many enjoyed that and will enjoy Spiderwick even more, then I am apprehensive in watching Spiderwick. Pan's had the main character dying too but I got that moral, that was genuinely clever, frightening and harsh as the film set out to be. Paperchase (one of my favourite off-key children's film) also had a similarly depressing\uplifting contradictory end but these films set the tone and mood for such tragedies. Terabitha to me decided to tack on the tragedy for the sake of it. Someone please explain why the girl had to die - what it represented so I can perhaps see Terabitha in a different light.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:18 a.m. CST

    This is vintage AICN TB

    by theycallmemrglass

    When comments such as "shit covered leper cock" are splayed across the TB for a fraking children's film review and by none other than the almighty Creator himself that we worship as Harry!! Contrary to what Harry says about times are a changing, this particular TB feels kinda retro... come on, there's even Indy talk going on here!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:31 a.m. CST

    This looks like a fucking "Terabithia" copycat

    by random dude

    With the same shitty effects.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:54 a.m. CST

    random dude

    by HEADGEEK

    big difference between this and Terabithia - This is an out and out fantasy world with real world ramifications. This isn't a, "it's all the imagination of youth" bullshit. Also - Terabithia had light dips into fantasy land - this film - the majority of the movie is dealing with the fantasy aspects. This is also seriously intense for a PG film - with some very disturbing subject matter, for a kids film.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:57 a.m. CST

    terabithia was fantastic

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    and Drath, don't be too freaked out by Harry not liking Lemony Snickets. This guy prefers Paul Andersons Soldier to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5 a.m. CST

    still harry, you had me at Terabithia

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    I still agree with about most shit but dude.....Fucking Beyond Thunderdome rules on all levels.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:16 a.m. CST

    Nomor - FUCK YOU!

    by HEADGEEK

    Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is 7 trillion times better that Paul (worthless shit) Anderson's festering ass SOLDIER!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:22 a.m. CST

    sorry Harry, I just read your soldier review

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    in it you say yes its bad but you prefer it to thunderdome. If you have changed your opinion then thank fuck.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:23 a.m. CST

    Woohoo I got a harry reply. My cherry is popped

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    its official.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:25 a.m. CST

    Wait a minute, I'm not covered in any CCPJ am I

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    cause that would RULE!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:35 a.m. CST

    My thoughts on Harry's reviews.

    by brokentusk

    I was reading a list the other day of websites that have "jumped the shark". AICN was, I think, number two on the list, which included sites like CNN.com, AOL.com, etc. The reason they gave for AICN's apparent shark jumping is because Harry is "clearly" bought by the studios, and hence writes positive reviews for some films that don't deserve such love. Now, I've been reading this site for over ten years, so when I read that list (which a friend pasted to me) the first thing I said was, "Yeah, bullshit". Anyone who actually knows what they're talking about will tell you that Harry writes gushing reviews of films because he fucking LOVES cinema. I mean, he loves this shit in ways that I can't even imagine – and I fucking live and breathe cinema. What does this mean? It means that more often than not, Harry finds the best in even the most mediocre films, and his reviews reflect this. Do I agree with him all the time? Fuck no. But, I do understand that it isn't some grand conspiracy where studios pay him to write positive reviews – instead, he goes into a film HOPING to like it, as opposed to sharpening his knives in anticipation of tearing it to pieces. Personally, my favorite reviewer on the site is Moriarty, who I feel gives an intense analysis of the films he writes about, with incredible insight. However, Harry's reviews are something different entirely, and if you have a problem with them, don't read them. I’ll get off my soapbox now and prepare to be ripped to pieces – bring it!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:54 a.m. CST

    Harry replied to me!!!!!

    by random dude

    This officially is the best day of my life *cries*

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 6:04 a.m. CST

    Harry

    by The Real MiraJeff

    Untraceable was surprisingly decent. Definitely better than advertised. Every review I've read calls it a step backward for Hoblit but I thought it was way better than Fracture, while not quite as good as Fallen or obviously Primal Fear. It raises some pretty interesting questions about should internet content be legislated by the government and what not and how the youtube generation is opening some dark doors, etc. And Lane is pretty solid doing her Starling thing. And the movie defies genre conventions. I was shocked that Lane and Billy Burke's characters didn't get together in the movie. And Joe Cross was genuinely creepy. Give it a chance. I know I'll give Spiderwick a chance after reading this, seeing as Terabithia was one of last year's most pleasant surprises.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 6:12 a.m. CST

    brokentusk, nah i don't really care

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    I usually agree with Harry, and I have his disease of occasionally getting overexcited about something thats not too hot 'cough'Alien Ressurrection. But I'm drunk and when Harry sledged Thunderdome in his ancient Soldier review it sort of freaked me out, but ultimately who gives a fuck what I think. Harry's da man.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 6:14 a.m. CST

    just read random dude's post

    by NomoredirtyjokespleaseweareYanks

    it was AWESOME

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:42 a.m. CST

    unfortunately Nomor...

    by billyhitchcock

    ...your AICN cherry isn't really popped until you have an actual review posted. mine was last year and it felt damn good :-) and harry posted it because of the reasons Brokentusk described above about harry's love for cinema and his search for something good in every film. i'm exactly the same way, and my friends often get bored of me being overly enthusiatic about everything i watch. but it's just the purest love of the art form, and it's why i've loved harry and his site for about 9 years. enter my name in to the search bar above to read my insane ramblings on Hot Fuzz :-)

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:46 a.m. CST

    Why don't they just put out the God-damn trailer

    by Kragmose

    How many months til the movie is out? Not many!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:01 a.m. CST

    TERABITHIA SPOILER WARNING

    by drave117

    To theycallmemrglass, who was asking why the girl died, she died because the story is about how to deal with regret. Regret is a hard thing to deal with, especially when it is tied to a selfish choice. In the end, the best way to honor someone's memory is to continue to practice/spread/share what they taught you, rather than weighing yourself down with guilt over a choice you can't undo. That's what the story meant to me, anyway. It's a really powerful lesson to learn, and it made me angry that so many parents were pulling their kids out of the theater as soon as they realized where the story was going. There is a difference between good parenting and being over-protective to the point of ridiculousness. At least in my opinion.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:15 a.m. CST

    excellent review, Harry

    by drave117

    Don't get my wrong, I really do enjoy your normal gleeful enthusiasm, but it was really refreshing to read a comparatively restrained and contemplative review of a film you weren't expecting to enjoy. And to brokentusk, regarding your analysis of Harry's reviewing style? Word. All the word ever.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:53 a.m. CST

    ELF's screenwriter wrote this?

    by SpencerTrilby

    wow... it truly needed a John Sayles credit to got my interest back. ELF was beyond awful. I pity the kids fed with that kind of shit.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 9:56 a.m. CST

    drave117

    by theycallmemrglass

    Thanks for that interpretation. I'm dwelling on that train of thought now. I simply didnt get it (maybe I am the dumbest one on this TB for not getting it), and one thing I hate is a film to throw in a tragedy with a lack of any lesson to learn from it or any moral. Now I can appreciate Terabitha more. I didnt know parents were pulling their kids away from seeing it though, thats a tad OTT.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 10:11 a.m. CST

    The movie is good.

    by BDT

    The children are empowered in the movie. Freddie Highmore is, once again, incredible. David Strathairn (sp?), a staple in many Sayles's own films, makes a great and believable Spiderwick. The story, which I haven't read, but looked up on Amazon, seems very true to the book. The story is engaging, you care about the characters, even the small sampling of characters you get such as Dame Joan Plowright's character, who reminded me of my Grandmother. Great acting, good solid story. CG is weak, though, and dialog is a tad forced in places, although handled well by the actors. Quality kids' entertainment with a few scary moments that were tense enough to engage adults. I was expecting not to like it, and, like Harry, ended up liking it quite a bit, as did my daughter. Not necessarily the best film I've seen, but better in some ways than the blockbuster kids' movies out there. I recommend it, especially for fans of the book.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 10:28 a.m. CST

    Didn't like Terebithia

    by BDT

    The girl's acting drove me nuts. It just seemed like pure ham and I could never determine the source of the ham-dom: the source material, the direction or the actress herself. I know many many fans of the book loved the movie Terabithia, but I never read the book, as it was published long after my childhood and chance to fall in love with it from a child's point of view, and thought the movie was sappy, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it for kids...I, as an adult, didn't care for the movie at all.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 11:18 a.m. CST

    RE: Mori

    by PirateEmery

    You can never really tell if these "trailer breakdowns" are accurate or not. If I remember correctly, I read that one Indy teaser trailer breakdown that had Indy being punched by Marion. Also, there was that trailer breakdown for Pirates of the Caribbean with Jack in quicksand in "purgatory."<p> So, yes, I felt a confirmation was required.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:27 p.m. CST

    The rat-thing in the promo stuff

    by ZeroCorpse

    looks a bit like Dubya. <p> I'm just sayin'.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST

    UGHHHH!!! just read the books, kids.

    by occula

    and when i say 'kids' i mean children, the children out there who do not need a film adaptation of these books. the books exist to feed childrens' imaginations. the writing is excellent (go holly) and the illustrations are charming (go tony). there is just no cg out there that can compete. and we're not talking tolkien here, we're talking books for young readers who are still in the stages of letting their imaginations grow. show your kid a film that stimulates, not one that dictates something they already have in their imaginations. my personal favorite: 'the secret of roan inish.' *climbes down from soapboax*

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Thanks Harry!

    by CheriBomb

    Thanks for putting the screening together. I was there with my niece yesterday and I have to say that we both loved it. She's read all of the books and she was not disappointed with the movie at all. I haven't read the books, but the story completely drew me into the world of magical creatures hidden from the majority of humans. This is a wonderful fantasy family movie.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Wow, Nomor- I was ready to call shenanigans...

    by WYLD STALLYNS RULES

    ...but Harry actually DID like SOLDIER more than Thunderdome. That's fucked up. From the review: "Now I happened to have liked this film more than Mad Max III, but that ain’t exactly a good thing."

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST

    you assholes

    by troutpencil

    You jumped on Harry's back when he was a little negative in the Transformers review. Would you stop pulling at the same dumbass shill accusations in every review he writes? Save them for when he reviews a movie well that is obviously garbage. Save it for the Godzilla moments. You trashed Rambo out of this stupid anti-Harry fervor and it's getting pretty annoying to read it after every review he writes.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Fuck it - i'm going to say this -

    by ikkyu

    and not just to lick ass, whatever kinda juice it's covered in - <p>Harry rocks, as does AICN, precisely *because* the dude raves about the stuff he sees! i actually totally prefer to hear him spklurge all over the place about something, you know, COOL, than go to town on a turkey. ok, so every now and again that's funny - but that's what Cumpston's for (and Massa and the guys more nowadays) - it ain't what i read Harry for. i read Harry's reviews because the guy is a GEEK, and somehow, thru' all the shit and the, sometimes criminally inhuman, bitching, he can still be 100% like the 8 year old boy we all kinda wish we still were. he just fuckin loves cool movies, and he doesn't give a fuck about your cynicism if you don't wanna play! well me too - i LIKE enjoying geeking out over cool movies, and i don't like being cynical, however damn clever that may might make me look on the internet!<p>fuck it! i'm for having fun! and thank you, Harry - thank you from the bottom of my geeky heart for having so much goddamn fun and sharing it with us all! don't ever fuckin stop! AICN is COOL, and it fuckin rules!<p>peace - out.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Occula...you like Roan Innish?

    by Bones

    Well guess what, the writer/director of THAT film is JOHN SAYLES one of the writers on the SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES movie...<p> So, if you liked that then you actually might like the film. Will it be slightly different from the books, YES. But the differences actually give you something stimulating to talk to your about. Kids like to get into discussion. I remember reading "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" as a child and loving that book, only to fall in love with THE SECRET OF NIMH independent of the book.<p> If the creators of the books like the movie (and they do), then I see it as a ringing endorsement to see and enjoy the film.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 2:26 p.m. CST

    Harry can like and review whatever damn movie he wants

    by TerryMalloy

    Get over it people

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST

    What movie will end Harry's streak of praise?

    by HudLives

    Any guesses? Jumper pherapes? Maybe Wanted?

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 2:39 p.m. CST

    This is off topic but...

    by MikeHoncho

    Did I just miss them or was Capone the only one to release a top list for the year? Are everyone else's lists still coming, or did I just not check the site the one day they were all put up?

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST

    MikeHoncho

    by TerryMalloy

    I'm pretty sure Capone was the only one. They had the Aint-it-cool awards but that was about it.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 3:24 p.m. CST

    BRIDEG OF TERABITHIA sucked

    by Vamp-AICNchat

    It was in my top 10 worst films of 2007. The trailer was misleading too. For example: if you replied to a ad which said you could fuck Pamela Anderson you were more likely to get a hand job off Warwick Davis watchung BRIDGE OF TERABITHIA - crimially misleading trailer. I should sue.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Shit covered leper Cock...

    by Vamp-AICNchat

    ...LMFAO!!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST

    My worst films of 2007 were...

    by Vamp-AICNchat

    ...1) THE NUMBER 23 2)COVENANT 3) PULSE 4) FLOOD 5) PREMONITION 6) CAPTIVITY 7) THE HEARTBREAK KID 8) 1408 9) VACANCY 10) BRIDGE OF TERABITHIA. BTW... where are your top 10 best and worst of 2007, HARRY & MORI? I've been looking forward to reading them.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 3:41 p.m. CST

    Okay, did nobody at all see Southland Tales?

    by drave117

    Because that was clearly the worst movie of 2007. It's not even a contest.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 3:47 p.m. CST

    sorry to be negative nancy, bones...

    by occula

    i just get riled ups! now, keep in mind that i get paid to make concept art for films, so it's in my best interests to want to put kids' butts in seats. however, i also have a children's book in development, and i am a firm believer that u.s. literacy rates speak for themselves. kids should read. films of books can be great but are not a necessary element to getting children involved in literature (i said 'roan inish' but you could add 'the secret garden' and 'a little princess' to that list, both adaptations...). what gets me about this adaptation in particular is, as sinister sez, it's part of a wave of studios frantically trying to grab kids' attention long enough to get merchandise off the shelves. i think there's a responsibility out there to make good children's film, but that doesn't mean yanking whichever kids' fantasy novel off the shelf and slapping a movie of it in theatres.<p>i do love some of john sayles' work, but just because he's one of 3 writers listed means he probably did a rewrite and is not responsible for the story. my gracious, i'm snotty today!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:07 p.m. CST

    JUMPER

    by HEADGEEK

    If JUMPER sucks, I'll be so pissed - I'm really looking forward to it.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:39 p.m. CST

    drave117...

    by Vamp-AICNchat

    ...I haven't seen it but friends tell me it's one of the worst EVER, if not the worst!!

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 4:52 p.m. CST

    best run of luck I guess

    by AnwarNamtut

    Every movie I've seen in a theatre so far in 2008 has been at the worst completely entertaining and at the best kick ass for the lord! Harry has no choice but to write good reviews because these flicks have been rockin'! Teeth, Inside (I missed it at Fantastic Fest originally), Cloverfield, Rambo, Spiderwick Chronicles. I've been basically walking around chanting all of these names to anyone who will listen. Especially Rambo. Just because.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:05 p.m. CST

    I am liking the shortened titles...

    by PirateEmery

    2007... Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford... <p> Then we get Cloverfield, Rambo, Jumper... It does appear that 2008 is starting out in the right direction with regards to titular brevity.<p> Then it all gets dashed by IJ:KOTCS.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 5:18 p.m. CST

    Spider Wick Spider Wick. Does whatever

    by skywalkerfamily

    a Spider Wick does.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Vamp-AICNchat

    by drave117

    At the end of Southland Tales, at the showing I went to, a hush fell over the entire theater as the credits started to roll. We're talking complete silence. Everyone was looking left and right, a bit nervously. I was the first one to speak up. I leaned forward, and spoke to the 40-something couple in front of me. "Okay, is it just me, or was that the worst thing you have ever seen in a theater?" They laughed a laugh of uneasy relief, and responded with "Oh, thank goodness... We were afraid there was something wrong with us..."

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Bridge to Terabithia pissed me off

    by Han Cholo

    It was great up until the end which just killed the movie and left me cold. I know it's supposed to show how unpredictable and bad life can be but, shit, I'd rather leave those kind of thoughts to reality, not when I'm in the theater, dammit.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 6:58 p.m. CST

    Thanks Lord of the Rings

    by Orionsangels

    Now we get movie versions of every classic book that featured goblins, dwarves and trolls

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7 p.m. CST

    Jumper is like that movie where

    by Orionsangels

    pretty white teens get powers. its like the hills meets x-men. what was that movie recently where those guys go off a cliff on a car, but have powers. they can resemble a car and put it back together avoiding an accident with a semi

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:15 p.m. CST

    Jumper looks great, but wow the title sucks

    by skywalkerfamily

    makes it sound like some basketball movie.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:23 p.m. CST

    Spiderwick Schmyderwick

    by Digby_Higgins

    Piss on the Spiderwick Chronicles and bring on Bard and Smaug the Dragon. Or, if not that, then perhaps Mer-Man: The Musical, starring Jason Statham as Mer-Man and Victor French as Beast-Man. Or, if French is dead, then Burt Young as Beast-Man.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:34 p.m. CST

    JUMPER/JMPR seems one-note and gimmicky

    by George Newman

    I hope I'm wrong but I am not looking forward to it. <p> that vowel-skipping thing is obnoxious in the preview

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:36 p.m. CST

    BRING ON THE HOBBIT

    by ryman7

    When are we gonna hear some HOBBIT news, Harry? Seriously... there has to be something. I'm too old for "spiderwick chronicles". what with ogres and griffins. Unlike orcs, trolls and dragons, which are for grown ups. Sheesh.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:37 p.m. CST

    EXCLUSIVE TDK FOOTAGE

    by ryman7

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=CUm6TCbEK0g

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:39 p.m. CST

    I don't think I'll see Jumper in theaters though

    by skywalkerfamily

    With the way it looks, it looks like it will be on DVD around summer.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 7:58 p.m. CST

    just IMDB'd Composer James Horner--WOW

    by George Newman

    His body of work, particularly in the 80s and 90s is absolutely ASTOUNDING. I've seen dozens of those films and certainly appreciated the musical scores, but never took the time to notice the guy's name.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:08 p.m. CST

    watching the SAG awards:million times better than

    by George Newman

    either the Globes or Oscars. The programming is so much leaner and more efficient.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:19 p.m. CST

    The Saggy looking actors and actresses

    by skywalkerfamily

    are on

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:26 p.m. CST

    there was a Sopranos sweep in drama tv

    by George Newman

    actor actress ensemble, anyway. <p>alec baldwin got comedy actor. <p>Office won comedy tv ensemble <p>Bardem won supporting actor <p>Derning got Life Time Achievement. man, he had a great biography, i'm gonna track down some of his classic films

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Promising

    by Messyjoe

    Unlike Bridge to Teribithia which was an out and out scam, this movie seems promising. I remember being sucked in by the false advertising for the first film and getting 30 seconds of the fantasy which the ads heavily promoted. The kids were very disappointed! This film seems to deliver the goods the other held back. Should prove to be a good series.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 9:03 p.m. CST

    I think it's a boon for the fantasy genre...

    by Rakafraker

    ...and personally, I love it. There are more kid-friendly ones these days, but at least they manage to be entertaining for many adults.<p>Sure, I would like to see a bad-ass Hard-R fantasy. Filled with crazy magic/mind power stuff with tons of epic battles and other geek-tastic stuff (did I mention it is obligatory to include some T&A??? *ahem*).<p>With all of the interest in family fantasy pics out there, surely it must be financially viable enough to make a good Adult-only fantasy? Where is that Frazetta-like Mocap pic we we've been salivating for?<p>If all we get right now is less comical family fantasy, fine. I'll see Spiderwick Cronicles. Just don't forget to make a good one for us geeks, OK? (Beowulf 3D was on the right path.)<p>BTW - Harry, good to see you making some posts. Good or bad. And yes, Wyrm does the best bad movie reviews IMHO.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 9:41 p.m. CST

    WOW HARRY likes something with an Aptow

    by Series7

    alumni in it. Go figure. If this is any where as good as Bridge to Terabithia then I'll check it out. Terabithia was the saddest movie I saw last year. Good thing Cate Blanchett has been recognized for being boring again. Also Harry says he had his hesitations about Mark Waters handling SFX, but was perfectly up for Chris Weitz handling the now Oscar nominated The Golden Compass, which according to Harry were pretty good nominations. Wow Lil Jon is in the Guinness book of world records, good job Lil Jon, can't be any worse then Meet the Spartans now having justification for mocking the best movie ever made, Rambo.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 9:47 p.m. CST

    What is the deal with talking animals?

    by skywalkerfamily

    Every fantasy movie has talking animals, but some of the most popular ones like LOTR and Star Wars don't. Hmm.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 10:05 p.m. CST

    This is probably the most corrupted review I've ever read

    by Nerdboy1423

    I like how the studio totally prepped Harry to view the film, and how, wow, all of a sudden his doubts were allayed and this happens to be a great fantasy film, complete with details on who is too young to see it. God. I didn't know Harry could write and suck Corporate at the same time. I think I would have been fine if there had been a bit more content to the review but it's essentially an "Official" plant. Site must not be going to good these days, huh?

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 10:34 p.m. CST

    Christ, this TB seems to have Harry's attention...

    by Shabbadoo

    Hi, Harry.

  • Jan. 27, 2008, 11:06 p.m. CST

    corrupted? wha?

    by AnwarNamtut

    "Official" plant was Bruce Willis trying to tell us DieHard 4 was God's gift when it was just sorta kinda good, sorta, ok I actually forgot most of it already, except for the horrible lipsync on the bad language cleanup overdubs. Spiderwick is actually a good movie with solid effects and realistic children.

  • Jan. 28, 2008, 1:26 a.m. CST

    DiTerlizzi is a brill artist,

    by Dingbatty

    and is very funny and charming in person. Been a fan since the 2nd edition Monster Manual Days, and Planescape and Changeling.

  • Jan. 28, 2008, 5:26 a.m. CST

    jumper

    by The Real MiraJeff

    i second harry, jumper looks absolutely amazing. maybe the trailer house deserves the credit but that movie looks unreal. i can't friggin wait! and bilson is gorgeous

  • Jan. 28, 2008, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Screw this, Jumper looks the dogs

    by DannyOcean01

    Sam the Man vs a London Bus Whoever came up with that is a bloody genius.

  • Jan. 28, 2008, 12:14 p.m. CST

    Theycallmemrglass

    by raumohir

    Just to add onto what drave117 said about Terabithia: The other thing I took from it is that it's a kind of coming of age story, about the difference between the fantasy world that the boy gets to play in as a kid, and the real world that his dad wants him to grow up and face. When the girl dies, it's the boy's turning point: the realities of the real world have finally hit him head on. Only the boy decides to carry his imagination with him into his adulthood. Hence the end, where he becomes the good, responsible older brother by sharing the fantasy world with his sister, who's still a child. He's able to avoid becoming his father thanks to the gift of imagination that the girl gave him.

  • Jan. 28, 2008, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Jumper looks GREAT

    by Abin Sur

    Doug Liman hasn't made a bad film yet, even though I know a lot of you probably hated Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which I liked (it should have been R, but still not bad). The one worry I have from the JUMPER trailers is that Hayden has said like a total of five words...giving no indication if his acting has improved since Sith. But DAMN, it looks fast-paced as HELL!

  • Jan. 29, 2008, 10:39 p.m. CST

    Even years are good to Jackson

    by Series7

    So Jumper should be good. Except for 95 and 99. We'll give him Menace, Blue and Vengeance. Probably his best three films outside of Pulp.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Saw this last night at a screening

    by Detective_Fingerling

    and loved it. Harry, you really hit the nail on the head with this review. I came away feeling everything you did. The best elements were the mythos they built into the story. I hope there will be sequels, and I plan on reading the books. My girlfriend ordered the books as soon as we got home to read herself, and put them in her 5th grade class library for the students. The special effects blew me away, as I didn't know what to expect from this film, as I have never heard of it before.

  • Feb. 10, 2008, 11:07 p.m. CST

    David Straitharn A Good Performance?

    by Colier Rannd

    Duh! That dude rocks. I am looking forward to this even more now that I know he's in it. Plus it just looks wicked cool.

  • Feb. 18, 2008, 2:15 a.m. CST

    I saw it tonight in IMAX, and I really liked it!

    by Zardoz

    Good, clean family and fantasy fun. Some really good humor and effects, and a moving story. I knew nothing about it going in and I also didn't like the trailer, but I was surprised at how well it works. Good performances all around, but Mary Louise Parker's hardly in it, so I was Milfed about that! And the kid's all give great performances, especially FH and you won't believe who does one of the other creature's voices. (I won't spoil it) And yeah, I almost shit myself when I saw John Sayles' name in the credits; what has he been up to lately? All in all, good stuff! Go see it, especially in IMAX!