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Film / The Spiderwick Chronicles

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The 2008 film of The Spiderwick Chronicles with the twins played by Freddie Highmore.

The Spiderwick Chronicles provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Several characters, including Korting, the river trolls and the dragons.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Most if not all of Mallory's Damsel in Distress moments are adapted out, making her come across as an even more competent Action Girl than in the book.
    • Helen also is not kidnapped by the goblins like she is in the last book, and helps her children fight them as they defend the house.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Minor example. Thimbletack pulls the switch trick with the Field Guide much earlier in the books when the Graces visit Aunt Lucinda. In the film he believes them when they say they'll leave the book in the house, only to discover the switch and then pull it on them when they fly to find Arthur.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While far from a villain in the books, the hobgoblin Hogsqueal was still at best a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk who only helps the heroes when forced to. In the movie, he's a selfless vengeance seeker who happily helps Jared fight Mulgarath.
  • Age Lift: The Grace siblings appear to have been aged by a couple of years. Jared and Simon were nine in the book, and played by the fourteen-year-old Freddie Highmore (though he's possibly playing as young as eleven or twelve). Mallory was thirteen and played by the sixteen-year-old Sarah Bolger.
  • Alien Blood: Mulgarath's blood appears to be green.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The film uses "Checkmate" by Yuugin as its theme song in Japan.
  • Angel Face, Demon Face: Thimbletack is normally a brownie, which is a small, pink little thing. He turns into a more muscular, green, mini-troll like thing, known as a boggart, when he's mad.
  • Ascended Extra: Red Cap was originally just a Goblin that appeared in the final book of the original, who looked important, and gave only a few orders to the captured protagonist. In the movie he's The Dragon, given intelligence by the Big Bad.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Thimbletack, thanks to his love of honey, is easily distracted from anger. Hogsqueal and birds too.
  • Bad Boss: The Ogre is always berating and slapping around Red Cap and his other minions.
  • Big Brother Bully: Mallory constantly picks up on Jared and belittles him, but is considerably kinder to Simon. She starts to mellow after everything she witnesses.
  • Brick Joke: Hogsqueal and his appetite for birds. It gets dropped on crow!Mulgarath's head like a ten-ton anvil.
  • Brooklyn Rage: The "New Yorkers are tough" variant. When preparing to Hold the Line at the end of the movie, Jared gives his mother two kitchen knives to fight with.
    Jared: "Steel. Cuts and burns."
    Helen (still rather confused): "Well, thank goodness we're New Yorkers."
  • Car Fu: The troll chasing Jared and Mallory gets run over by a truck.
  • Curse Cut Short: Red Cap the lead goblin mumbles "Oh, sh-" as the stove full of tomato sauce explodes, reducing him and his lackeys to green puddles of goo.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Jared thinks that his divorced father is going to come and see them in their new house, while in every phone call the father makes up an excuse as to why he has to quickly hang up while saying he'll tell Jared something important later. Later, during a lull in the final battle, his mother and older sister reveal that he won't be coming because he found another woman and has completely cut his old family out of his life. This turns into a Secret Test of Character later on when his dad does show up... but is actually the Big Bad in disguise. Jared uses what his mom and sister told him to see if it's really his dad by asking what he wanted to tell him on the phone.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Jared throws Mallory the rock "lens" so she can see what she's fending off with her fencing blade.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • The dad in question not only left the family, but is lying to Jared about coming to see him. He can't, because he's found another woman.
    • The same applies to Lucinda Spiderwick's father, Arthur Spiderwick, the creator of the book. She witnessed him being carried away by fairies after she wandered outside of the protective circle around their house and was attacked by goblins. No one believed her when she told people about what happened to him for obvious reasons.
  • Evil Old Folks: The ogre's first human guise is a creepy old man.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Mallory slashes Red Cap's right eye with her saber, leaving a scar on it. The next time he's seen, Red Cap is blind in the right eye.
    • Jared jabs a pipe right into the mole troll's left eye. The troll tears the pipe out, but in the process loses its eye.
  • Face Palm: Helen when at her new job sees Jared and Mallory walking down the street, the latter with her sword in hand and both looking dishevelled from running through the sewers. She buries her face in her hand, and her co-worker assumes it's because she finds the training hard.
  • Familial Foe: Eighty years ago, the evil ogre Mulgarath menaced Arthur Spiderwick and his daughter Lucinda while trying to steal Arthur's research about the magical world. Decades later, he menaces the great-grandchildren of Arthur's brother.
  • Fingore: While being chased by Mulgarath, Jared escapes into the dumbwaiter. Mulgarath tries to stop him, only to lose three fingers on his right hand. Of course, he transforms into a large snake to slide into the shaft.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In the words of Mallory, "you found a book that says 'do not read', and you read it?"
  • Good Samaritan: A small moment, but the tow truck driver who runs over the invisible troll stops, looks around and worriedly asks if he hit anyone.
  • Hold the Line: The Grace family defends their house against Mulgarath and the Goblins.
  • Mood Whiplash: the Ogre's attempt to seize the book being foiled by Hogsqueal.
  • No-Sell: Jared attempts to burn the Field Guide in a fire, but thanks to the wards around the house, it doesn't work.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: British Joan Plowright as the older Lucinda Spiderwick. Especially notable since we hear her 8-year-old self speaking with an American accent.
  • Our Pixies Are Different: Pixies, also called piskies, are one of the various types of humanoid fairies present in the setting, being diminutive winged humanoids with clothing made out of leaves and seed pods. They range in size from two feet high to the size of a child, separating them from the much smaller brownies, sprites, and stray sods and the taller elves. They're highly mischievous beings, and enjoy playing mean-spirited tricks on humans (such as knotting their hair, or pinching skin black and blue) and making off with small objects. Due to their attraction to humans, they typically live in green areas close to human settlements, such as farmlands, parks, and suburban gardens.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: The Grace siblings are Arthur's great-great grandchildren in the book (through a sibling of Lucinda's), but the film implies they're descended from a sibling of Arthur and Lucinda is Arthur's only child.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    Thimbletack: "Are you Blind?! I put a note right there on the cover! Can't you Read?!"
  • Signature Headgear: Red Cap is distinguishable from other goblins by the tricorne hat he wears. When he and the Mooks get melted by the tomato sauce bombs, that's the only thing left.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • In the books, Arthur dies at the end. In the movie, he stays with the Sylphs, but his daughter also comes with him, and reverts to the same age she was when he was taken away.
    • The final book also opens with the Graces discovering their house has been destroyed. In the film, the climax now happens at the house, which remains intact.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: Jared throws the book into the air, forcing Mulgarath to take on a crow form to grab it. Shortly thereafter he runs into a very hungry Hogsqueal, much to his detriment.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Tomato sauce, vinegar and salt are effective at hurting goblins, with the former being outright corrosive to their bodies.
    • Mulgarath, it turns out, has one too. In bird form, he's just as fragile as a real bird, as Hogsqueal happily demonstrates by snatching and devouring him.