Friday, March 09, 2007

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA: Realistic Family Fare

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (fantasy adventure)
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Patrick, Bailee Madison and Lauren Clinton
Director: Gabor Csupo
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
Robb and Hutcherson
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? If you are looking for an epic-styled sword-and-sorcery action the likes of "The Chronicles Of Narnia" or "Harry Potter", you will be sorely disappointed with "Bridge To Terabithia". However, if you're into the feel-good escapist fare that you can sink your teeth into, this Bridge will get you there…

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? "Bridge To Terabithia" is a tale about friendship and imagination. It is not all about giant trolls, magical castles and flying insect warriors that you may have seen in its posters and trailers. Its protagonists, Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) and Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), are the kids-next-door type who face problems with their classmates at school. Jesse is a gifted artist but his drawings are considered silly and weird by the other boys in class.
Leslie, the new girl at school, is a writer with a heightened sense of imagination. She clicks off well with Jesse, her neighbour, and when they find a rope across a stream near their homes, they use it to get to the woods on the other side. Leslie imagines the place to be a magical kingdom called Terabithia and together, they explore a world of giant trolls, dragonfly warriors and other fanciful creatures.
‘Terabithia’ offers Jesse and Leslie their escape from the realities of school bullies, household chores and neglectful parents. Their friendship blossoms into what may be called ‘first love’. The movie is also a down-to-earth story that does not discard the harsh lessons of life -- and death – even in a movie about make-belief.

HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS: Adapting from the book by Katherine Paterson, director Gabor Csupo (of "The Simpsons" and "Rugrats"), keeps the computer-generated effects to a minimum to allow the book’s material to shine through. It helps that Paterson’s son, David, is also the screenwriter, together with Jeff Stockwell.
The young leads, Hutcherson (of "Zathura" fame) and Robb (of "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory"), represent the middle class families of America and they display natural screen chemistry, helping to keep us enthralled throughout the movie. The other cast members are solid too, like the cute Bailee Madison as Jesse’s younger sister May Belle; Robert Patrick as Jesse’s strict but caring father; and a spirited Zooey Deschanel as their inspirational music teacher.

THE LOWDOWN: "Bridge to Terabithia" is a touching and heart-warming movie without trying too hard to tug at our heartstrings. Children who watch it would probably learn how to handle adversity (like the problems at home and in school) and to let their imaginations fly; parents may understand their children more and adapt to nurturing creativity in their offspring.


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