The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 101 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese,
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Martin Short, Joan Plowright
Directed by: Mark Waters
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum, John Sayles
Region Code: Not indicated
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 24, 2008
"Warning! Do not read this book.."
From the beloved, best-selling series of books comes an extraordinary fantasy adventure, revealing the unseen world that exists all around us. From the moment the Grace family moves into a secluded old house peculiar things start to happen. Unable to explain the accidents and strange disappearances, the Grace children, Jared, Simon and Mallory start to investigate and find the unbelievable truth of the Spiderwick Estate and the amazing creatures that inhabit it.
I have to admit that I am a sucker for adventure films like The Spiderwick Chronicles. Goblins, Ogres, Dragons, Mythical Creatures etc. bring it on, the more the merrier. They are not all created equal and some are definitely better than others. Spiderwick had its moments but falls a bit short when compared to other films in its genre. I felt that the background on Arthur Spiderwick was sketchy and could have benefited the story with a bit more on him and the development of the field guide. I liked the development of the characters played by Freddie Highmore and Sarah Bolger. Freddie Highmore's Jared was better than his Simon as the latter seemed less genuine and robotic. It was clear from the beginning that the kids were going to be the focal point in the story. This didn't leave much room for the very talented remainder of the cast (Strathairn, Parker, Plowright) to show off their abilities. Having them onboard certainly lends stability and credibility to the cast. Seeing actors with backgrounds like Nick Nolte and Andrew McCarthy with tiny cameos in a film like this was kind of sad but such is life in Hollywood. There were some fun moments involving Hogsqueal and Thimbletack who were voiced by Seth Rogan and Martin Short. I enjoyed the action sequences which featured some great visual effects work by Industrial Light & Magic. When all was said and done I found The Spiderwick Chronicles to be entertaining but a bit shallow in story development.
The rating is for scary creature action and violence, peril and some thematic elements. This one might be a little strong for little ones.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Spiderwick Chronicles comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio with an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.
This video presentation met my expectations for a newly released film within this genre. Detail was abundant with clearly defined lines and sharp resolution. I was able to clearly discern fibers in the clothing, hair and skin of the cast members (check out the fine white hair on actress Joan Plowright's face). The same was true of object detail as I could make out the characteristic structure of items in both interior and exterior shots regardless of their placement within the frame. Colors were vivid and vibrant with slightly exaggerated hues that I found pleasing at times and distracting at others. Black levels were not as deep as I would have liked but I didn't feel that negatively effected image depth in dark scenes. The dark and shadow filled sequences shot in the underground tunnel and attic looked great with plenty of visible detail. Contrast levels appeared elevated which made the bright outdoor shots look punchy but a little artificial. Any negatives mentioned here are minor in nature. Overall I was very pleased with quality of this video offering.
The audio presentation kept pace with the video and sounded excellent. From a deep bass perspective this mix is fairly aggressive. Pretty much any scenes involving the antagonistic Ogre Mulgarath will deliver enough low end impact so that your subwoofer will feel appreciated. The chase sequence in the underground tunnel will put the entire system to use as there is a flurry of discrete surround sound which emanates from various points round the soundstage. James Horner's sweeping score is brought to life with beautifully articulated presence and crystal clear precision. I found that dialogue was rendered with clarity and tonal distinction but was not as pronounced within the sound field as I would have liked. At times I felt that the soundtrack as a whole was mixed too low. To compensate I simply boosted the volume a bit. I would not classify this as reference quality material but it comes pretty close.
The bonus features presented on this Blu-ray Disc are fairly comprehensive and offer an inside look at the making of The Spiderwick Chronicles. It also offers some background on the story and includes interviews with real life people who have interesting experiences to share regarding the world of Arthur Spiderwick. There is a plethora of behind the scenes content including cast/crew interviews, background on the sets, casting, post production work and ILM. The Field Guide highlights in detail the creatures and magic associated with those featured in the film as well as others. The remainder consists of a pop up in-movie field guide option, Deleted scenes, Nickelodeon TV Spots (SD), two trailers and closing remarks by the Director. There is surely enough information here to keep interested fans entertained. I am happy to see the bulk of it offered in high definition.
- (HD) Spiderwick: Its all true Featurette
- (HD)It's a Spiderwick world Featurette
- (HD)Arthur Spiderwic's Field Guide
- Field Guide in-movie mode
- (HD) Spiderwick: Meet the clan Featurette
- (HD)Making Spiderwick Featurette
- (HD)The Magic of Spiderwick Featurette
- (HD)A final word of advice: Closing remarks by Director Mark Waters
- (HD) 4 Deleted scenes
- 9 Nickelodeon TV Spots
- 2 Theatrical Trailers
The Spiderwick Chronicles is an entertaining family adventure film that lacks the ingredients necessary to place it in the classic category along with similar films in its genre. I liked it enough that it will remain in my collection. Fans of the film will be happy with this disc from a technical perspective as well as with its extensive bonus materials. It is being released day and date on high definition Blu-ray Disc and DVD. Paramount continues to display their commitment to high definition Blu-ray Disc with top quality audio/video presentations and full featured bonus supplements.
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