Remembering James Horner Blogathon: The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

As always, hitting the brink of the deadline, here is my entry for the 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner Blogathon hosted by Film Music Central. Last year, I took a look at Once Upon a Forest for this blogathon and it was a great one to revisit. You can check out the review here. This year, I decided to check out another family fantasy film adapted from a children’s book series that I haven’t read called The Spiderwick Chronicles. I’m a huge fan of Freddie Highmore as a child star, even now in Bates Motel. I think he’s fantastic and for a while, I did take the time to catch up a lot of his movies a few years back and this was one of them. I’m excited to have a reason to revisit it and hope that the magic is still as charming as I remember.

Let’s check it out!

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

spiderwick chronicles

Director: Mark Waters

Cast: Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Sarah Bolger, Andrew McCarthy, David Strathairn, Seth Rogen, Martin Short

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. – IMDB

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fun little fantasy adventure children’s movie featuring a double dose of Freddie Highmore as both Jared and Simon Grace who along with their sister, Mallory (played by Sarah Bolger) are taken to a home that their mother inherited from their great aunt while she goes through a separation. Jared takes this the hardest and after a fight realized that there is something in the walls. As he chases it down, he finds a secret room accessible by a dumbwaiter and there he finds a book that warns him to not open it. Being a child, of course, he does. Whether it was an act of rebellion or thoughtlessness or curiosity, this opens up a realm of fairies and other more dangerous creatures that have been seeking this field guide of the magical creatures to use it as a way to control the world. This one dangerous individual is a giant ogre, Mulgarath (voiced by Nick Nolte). Some of the gentler creatures who create quite the comedic relief is Hogsqueal who looks like a hog and is obsessed with birds (voiced by Seth Rogen) and the protector of the book, Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short). Its fun adventure with some pretty cool CGI effects and an all around entertaining story. While the start might show some over acting in Freddie Highmore, he soon settles quickly as they put away the family and sibling rivalry and jump fairly quickly into the meat of the fantasy world and its just a quick ride to the end.

Spiderwick Chronicles

As this is a blogathon for James Horner, its important to discuss the score. James Horner makes some of the best orchestral scores that help build the atmosphere. Here he carries mystery and suspense when the world is first discovered, then takes us on a musical journey that aids as the adventure picks up where these siblings bond together and truly find their courage as they plot their protection for their home. The score compliments and accentuates the adventure particularly. Adding onto a well-executed film to begin with, this makes it even more engaging to watch. Its hard to ignore the seamless score that James Horner puts together for Spiderwick Chronicles.

Sarah Bolger is a familiar face now. While I have yet to check out Into the Badlands, I’ve seen her as Princes Aurora in Once Upon a Time and especially in Emilie, a psychological thriller released last year that was very well put together. I can’t remember if I had actually written a review but its a great movie that truly showcases her acting skills and the potential she has. Her sister role as Mallory brings a sense of balance, not because she’s a girl but also because she’s very tough as she wield her fencing sword in all her fights. Its an impressive character.

Spiderwick Chronicles

In terms of the double Freddie Highmore, Jared and Simon have relatively different personalities and it gives them a more unique character and lets us see the difference other than how they dress. Freddie Highmore wasn’t great in the Jared role when he starts but it might just have to do with his difficult child act and once it was dropped, it was really fun to watch, even though Jared is more of the central character here.

 

In terms of voice actors, we have Nick Nolte as the baddie. For a children’s movie, it worked really well. I was pretty invested into the movie and the villain even if he didn’t really show up that much and there was one part where he was human and the transformation was pretty cool. Other than that, Thimbletack (Martin Short) and Hogsqueal (Seth Rogen) are really fun to watch in a silly way. Their creatures themselves are rather creative and in a somewhat adorable way, they are pretty appealing. I have to say that Hogsqueal could have had more screen time although as a non-Seth Rogen fan, I actually thought this was a great performance but it had to do with this silly character that added a lot of entertainment value.

Spiderwick Chronicles

Overall, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fun and fast-paced fantasy adventure movie. It has great performances all around and a good balance of comedy and adventure, making it incredibly entertaining and engaging to watch. The CGI is done very well and not to mention, a well-executed story that is accentuated by a great score.

Have you seen The Spiderwick Chronicles? 

Frankenweenie (2012)

I love Tim Burton.  I’ve been slacking off a bit on the more recent movies that he’s made.  I haven’t seen last year’s Dark Shadows yet, but I intend on owning all his movies and I do own quite a few as of now.  If I wanted to do a Tim Burton marathon, it would be pretty much successful.  The newest animation from Tim Burton is the film version of his short from early on in his directing.   I’ve been looking forward to watching this a while…

frankenweenie posterDirector: Tim Burton

Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder, James Hiroyuki Liao, Robert Capron

This is a story of a young boy and his dog.  When Victor Frankenstein(Charlie Tahan) loses his dog Sparky, under the inspiration of his new science teacher Mr. Ryzkruski’s (Martin Landau) lesson in class, he decides to use electricity to bring Sparky back to life.  However, he knows that Sparky can’t be revealed and he tries to hide him.  Beyond his control, Sparky ends up wandering around the neighborhood and get seen by his fellow classmates, Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) who then leaks it to Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao) and a few others, who get inspired to change the odds of their chances in the coming science fair and experiments with something that ends up more than they bargained for, the town learns the difference between the good and bad in science.

frankenweenie victor sparky

Tim Burton is definitely great at stop-motion animation.  This is Burton to the core, reaching back to a him that I haven’t seen in his recent works in a long time.  It was missed and this was energetic and passionate piece of work.  The black and white filming really gave it a nice touch and kept it eerie but fun.  Only Burton can actually bring that in, especially when he tosses up the character designs and gives a lot of them some really weird or evil or gentle looks to show their personality.

frankenweenie class

Victor Frankenstein showed such awesome personality and passion for his project as he learned more about science in itself along with its consequences, we also learn and feel as he loses and fights to keep this best friend with him.  We suffer the loss of losing a pet and a part of our family.  In this animation, Victor doesn’t get all the credit though.  Just the classmates involved each had their own charm and magic, whether they were hardcore or mean and he gave it a nice twist by making the characters multicultural.  Plus, it was a mix of evil and some look bad but wasn’t really that bad, some was purely weird and then we have genuinely nice but left out.  All the children was voiced very energetically.

frankenweenie elsa

It was definitely a fun film.  My favorite character had to be Mr. Ryzkruski because he was so blunt and not caring about his consequences.  He was the mentor and inspiration of Victor even till the very end.  Plus, Winona Ryder’s Elsa was really great also.  It was a captivating animation.  There was a charm that really kept this movie engaging the whole time.

frankenweenie ryzkruski

Definitely great watch! If you are a Tim Burton fan, this is definitely a must-see! You can see his passion and energy just by how he perfectly sets everything up.  I loved it! The story was totally awesome, the physical character designs were fitting and they were voiced enthusiastically.  All around fun film.  It never gets too serious even when we hit the peak but it also teaches us lessons and even hits on little signs from the original Frankenstein novel.  It has a lot of style especially with the black and white.

Loved it to bits! 🙂

Whats your Tim Burton fave? Did you like Frankenweenie? Are you a Tim Burton fan?