Though not as memorable or as magical as other children's book-to-film adaptations, "The Spiderwick Chronicles" is a well-crafted and well-acted family movie worth seeing.
Adapted from a series of seven children's books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, "Spiderwick" is the tale of three siblings - twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace (played by Freddie Highmore) and Mallory Grace (Sarah Bolger) - who move along with their mother Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) to the rundown and abandoned Spiderwick estate.
The children soon uncover the secrets of the estate and the find themselves entangled in a world of faeries, goblins and other magical creatures, but the secrets they discover put them in serious danger.
To keep the magical world and their world from meeting certain doom, Jared, Simon and Mallory are forced to battle the vicious goblin Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) who seeks to destroy the faery world.
"Spiderwick" delves not only into the magical world, but also into the world of a family on the brink of divorce and the anxiety of starting a new life in a new place.
Despite the work of talented and experienced actors, the story seems never to develop fully, and many questions are left unanswered at the end of the movie. At 97 minutes, the movie moves quickly almost as if there is a race to the finish.
Highmore, who has appeared in successful films such as "Finding Neverland" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is successful in portraying two characters with great attention to detail in both roles. Nolte, who only makes a brief appearance in the film, sets the tone for the evil Mulgarath. Nolte is the voice of the more sinister looking computer animated goblin mutation of Mulgarath through remainder of the film.
Director Mark Waters, who directed "Mean Girls" - adapted from Rosalind Wiseman's "Queen Bees and Wannabes" - and a remake of Disney's Freaky Friday, is no stranger to adaptations; however, "Spiderwick" falls short of the magical worlds created in the "Harry Potter" lexicon and "The Chronicles of Narnia" but holds its own as a worth-while family film that will most likely be enjoyed by many.
"The Spiderwick Chronicles" is rated PG and has a running time of 1 hour and 37 mintues.