A new entry in the "DVD" category is kid's fantasy/action/horror "The Spiderwick Chronicles". When a single-parent family moves into a dead relative's house in the woods, the children find a book with a big warning on it saying "DO NOT OPEN". Before you can say abracadabra, goblins, trolls and other beasties are fighting their way into the house to capture the book, due to the many secrets and information contained within it...
This is a surprisingly good addition to the genre, which is quickly becoming tired with lacklustre efforts such as Eragon and the like. Better than Narnia without reaching the magic of the Potters, it's perfect for those over-eight's looking for a new fantasy series based on children's books. More enjoyable than Narnia, its homely feel (the kids rarely leave the house) is more intimate than the isolating scale of other genre entries, and whilst the CGI is not terrible, the occasionally dodgy creatures have a ropey charm.
Comparable to Jumanji, the story offers more scares than Potter and Narnia, the story turning into a home-invasion horror for kids. Intense scenes may prove too much for younger kids to handle, and the big baddie is pretty scary. Most of the acting is pretty good too, especially Freddie Highmore in a dual role as identical twins Jared and Simon. Seth Rogen competently voices his character, who offers most of the film's comic relief as the children's snouted, goblin-y sidekick Hogsqueal.
So, for those with slightly older kids and an hour and a half to spare (a decent running time - the film feels no need to have a bloated length), this is a good way to entertain all of the family. Whilst it may not have the sparkle and magic of Potter, it has an exciting narrative that'll be sure to entertain those of all ages.
Entertainment Value: 3.5/5
Genre Value: 4/5
Overall Rating: 3/5