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THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES ($40) is a terrific, family friendly, fantasy film. Based upon the series of children's books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES tells the story of Jared Grace (Freddie Highmore), who moves into the Spiderwick Estate in New England with his mother Helen (Mary-Louise Parker), identical twin bother Simon (also Highmore), and older sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) after his parents break up. Jared is resentful of the breakup of his parentsí marriage and the familyís move to New England. The discovery of a long hidden dumbwaiter behind the wall of the house leads Jared into the hidden recesses of the estate, where he finds the study of former resident Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn), as well as a book- Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You.

Strangely enough, the book has an unbroken seal around it, as well as a note the bears the warning that the book should not be read. Boys being boys, Jared disregards the note, breaks the seal and begins reading Spiderwick's Field Guide, which describes in great detail a world hidden from human eyes, one which is populated with mythical creatures such as faeries, brownies, goblins, trolls, ogresÖ etc. Although initially dismissive, the appearance of a brownie named Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short) convinces Jared of Field Guideís legitimacy, as well as the dire consequences of what he may have unleashed upon an unsuspecting human world, when the evil ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) sends his minions to retrieve the book at any cost. This leaves Jared and his two siblings to fend off an overwhelming assault, while trying to find a way to either permanently protect the Field Guide or destroy it, so itís powerful secrets donít fall into the hands of Mulgarath. The cast of THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES also features Joan Plowright, Seth Rogen, Jordy Benattar and Andrew McCarthy.]

Paramount Home Entertainment has made THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is very, very good and is certain to please fans. Image sharpness and detail are generally very strong, although like other films where digital characters interact with live action on a regular basis, a tiny bit of softening has been introduced to make the blending of the elements a bit more seamless. Fine details and textures also rate fairly high, especially in close-ups, but not as high as they do in films were there are very few or no digital elements. Colors are rendered at a fairly natural level of saturation and the flesh tones look quite good. Blacks, whites, contrast and the level of shadow detail are all excellent, but do fall a notch or two below demonstration disc quality. Grain seems quite minimal, as though it may have been processed out of the image while the film was in the digital realm.

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. This is a fairly terrific sound mix; big, loud and boisterous when required, but leaner and concise for the smaller dialogue driven passages. The outlying channels are very engaging anytime something big is happening on the screen, and they do hold their own to create convincing acoustic spaces, when things quiet down. Fidelity is just great, producing a warm, full-bodied musical component, as well as convincing sound effects. The bass channel is deep and highly effective. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is generally very understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Starting things off is the Field Guide: In-Movie Mode offers pop-up trivia with interactive features. Next we have the HD featurettes: Spiderwick: It's All True! (seven minutes), Itís A Spiderwick World! (eight minutes) Spiderwick: Meet the Clan! (fourteen minutes), Making Spiderwick! (twenty minutes), The Magic Of Spiderwick! (fourteen minutes) and A Final Word of Advice! (two minutes). An interactive look at Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide, four Deleted Scenes, nine Nickelodeon Television Spots and two theatrical trailers close out the supplements.

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES is a highly enjoyable fantasy film that will appeal to all family members. Paramountís Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. Definitely recommended.

 

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES 


The Spiderwick Chronicles [Blu-ray] (2008)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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