DVD OF THE WEEK
The Spiderwick Chronicles
(Cert PG, 91 mins)
Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn, Nick Nolte, and the voices of Martin Short, Seth Rogen
In the wake of their parents’ separation, twin brothers Jared and Simon (Highmore, times two) move to the dilapidated family pile of Spiderwick Mansion with older sister Mallory (Bolger) and their mother Helen (Parker). Jared explores the house and discovers a book in the attic entitled Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide To The Fantastical World Around You, a hand-written study by their great-great-uncle (Strathairn).
Paying no attention to a warning on the cover, Jared opens the book and simultaneously opens a doorway to a world of fairies and sprites surrounding the old mansion. The boy soon learns that a wicked, shape-shifting ogre called Mulgarath (Nolte) seeks the Field Guide and will stop at nothing to acquire it. So the children join forces with a friendly hobgoblin called Hogsqueal (voiced by Rogen) to ensure the book’s safekeeping.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a rollicking fairytale full of magic and mystery, other-worldly creatures and daring, based on the books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Computer effects are woven seamlessly into the live action, including an exhilarating flight sequence on a griffin, gathering in pace for an thunderous finale that includes an exploding oven, lashings of tomato sauce and a killer pay-off line from Hogsqueal.
Director Mark Waters elicits strong performances from the young cast while keeping a tight rein on the digital trickery. Parents with very small or particularly sensitive children may want to watch the DVD first, so they are well prepared for any distress caused by the film’s numerous intense and scary scenes.
The Game Plan
(Cert U, 105 mins)
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Madison Pettis, Roselyn Sanchez, Kyra Sedgwick, Morris Chestnut
Joe Kingman (Johnson) is the superstar quarterback of the Boston Rebels, singlehandedly guiding his team towards the NFL championship play-offs.
His carefully ordered world implodes when eight-year-old Peyton Kelly (Pettis) turns up on his doorstep, claiming to be his daughter.
Abandoned by her mother for two weeks while she is on humanitarian duties in Africa, Peyton needs somewhere to stay and Joe takes in the rosy-cheeked tyke.
At first, Joe struggles to adapt to parenthood. When the media threatens to eat him alive for his thoughtless behaviour, Joe goes on the PR offensive by attending ballet lessons with his little girl, where he strikes up a friendship with fiery-tempered teacher Monique Vasquez (Sanchez).
Step Up 2 The Streets
(Cert PG, 94 mins)
Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman, Will Kemp, Harry Shum Jr, Janelle Cambridge, Christopher Scott, Mari Koda, Luis Rosado, Adam G Sevani, LaJon Dantzler, Black Thomas
After her latest brush with the law, talented hip-hop dancer Andie (Evigan) reluctantly agrees to enroll at the prestigious Maryland School of the Arts. She struggles to fit in, rebelling against the formal teaching methods preferred by school director Blake Collins (Kemp).
The one ray of sunshine is a burgeoning friendship with Blake’s rebellious, younger brother Chase (Hoffman), who loves to freestyle at local clubs.
He daringly suggests that Maryland students should form their own crew., roping in gifted misfits such as gadget geek Cable (Shum Jr), shy girl Fly (Cambridge), tap dancer Hair (Scott), Japanese exchange student Jenny (Koda), stunt performer Monster (Rosado), lighting designer Moose (Sevani) and renegade Smiles (Dantzler). Together, this band of outsiders proves you don’t have to come from the streets to dance from the heart.