Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
Watch On
  1. Director Mark Waters does a fine job meshing the fantastical with the quotidian.
  2. 88
    A well-crafted family thriller that is truly scary and doesn't wimp out.
  3. 75
    Not great fantasy, but it's on more solid ground than "The Golden Compass" and will seem less baffling to some. There's enough here to keep adults engaged, which is an important component of any motion picture that wants to be known as "family entertainment."
  4. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    A fast-moving adventure with more than dynamic glitz to recommend it.
  5. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    A mostly superb cast, superior special effects, a sparkling musical score and a fantasy-filled plot .
  6. The film underscores the power of reading, and applying what we read to problem-solving. The story suggests that we don't really see the natural world around us, and if we did our lives, like Jared's and his siblings', would be immeasurably richer.
  7. 75
    The movie is funny and scary and touching in all the ways the best children's pictures are, but it is also fast and compact, running a perfectly paced 93 minutes (including credits).
  8. An enjoyable adventure fantasy that pushes all the requisite buttons while still managing to throw in a pleasant surprise or two.
  9. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    A work of both modest enchantment and enchanting modesty, grounded in a classically Spielbergian realm where childlike wonderment crosses paths with the tough realities of young adulthood.
  10. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    The movie's richly autumnal look is by swift turns cozily naturalistic and terrifyingly baroque, and director Mark Waters (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls) sustains the balance between real and surreal with mischievous brio.
  11. Suffers slightly from that not-so-fresh feeling.
  12. Meticulously rendered CGI creatures--from Arthur Rackham-esque flower sprites to a troll that could have sprung from "Jurassic Park"--spike this dark adventure, shot marvelously by Caleb Deschanel.
  13. The children's real world, or what passes for real in a fantasy, could hardly be more inviting, for reasons that are hardly mysterious: the strong performances, under Mark Waters's accomplished direction; the smart, bright language, much of it taken from the books; the stylish cinematography, by Caleb Deschanel.
  14. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    A decent entertainment -- not up there with the "Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings" sagas, but a notch above "The Golden Compass" and "Narnia."
  15. Spiderwick is set in the present, but goes for an overall design look of dainty, cozy, William Morris-y arts-andcraftiness.
  16. 67
    Anyone looking for handsomely presented, kid-friendly thrills need look no further.
  17. 67
    Starts off promisingly by empathetically depicting the fear and anger children feel when their parents separate, but ultimately its human emotions are dominated by goblins, trolls, and other CGI-generated creatures running amok on the screen.
  18. Unlike Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," which was also inspired by Rackham, The Spiderwick Chronicles is more whimsical than scary.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    We're supposed to be agog at the fantastical creatures and dazzling special effects. But the more wrenching story of disillusioned children nags in the background, distracting from any enchantment.
  20. A world designed for children, and most of the grownups involved don't quite understand it - on or offscreen.
  21. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's a good movie for its type, but it rarely stops to let us marvel at the world it creates.
  22. Reviewed by: Karl Rozemeyer
    Perhaps Highmore could have tried a little harder to make us doubt for a moment that, once again, Good will inevitably overcome Evil.
  23. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    Once “Spiderwick” gets to the fantasy, the story gets going.
  24. Reviewed by: Sam Toy
    A late entry in a crowded field, Spiderwick works hard to set itself apart from the competition, and almost entirely succeeds - no mean feat these days.
  25. Maybe it's fantasy fatigue, but for all the pretty effects and breathless chases and goblin war battles, the sense of wonder and magic is lost in the shuffle.
  26. Spiderwick. There’s nothing wrong with it that passion and personality couldn’t fix.
  27. 50
    The obvious product of a corporate search for the next great fantasy franchise, this adaptation of the first in a series of popular children's books by the writer-illustrator team of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi is a lump of leaden whimsy.
  28. 50
    Overrun with malicious goblins, a vengeance-minded pig, a fast-moving troll and a giant horned ogre, but the true source of terror is scarier than all of these combined: New York real estate prices.
  29. 50
    For the uninitiated? Man, it's a bummer.
  30. 40
    Instead of the kind of inspired imaginative synergy that distinguished the “Lord of the Rings” and later “Harry Potter” pictures, this movie, directed by Mark Waters (“Mean Girls”), feels more like a sloppy, secondhand pander.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 66 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 28
  2. Negative: 6 out of 28
  1. Nov 13, 2013
    The Spiderwick Chronicles excels.
    The integrity of the movie isn't very high considering the immense changes from the book. With that being
    The Spiderwick Chronicles excels.
    The integrity of the movie isn't very high considering the immense changes from the book. With that being said the movie is a very solid adventure flick with good young actors and a solid screenplay adaption.
    Full Review »
  2. May 25, 2012
    This is a great movie with an intriguing plot, "good to weird" acting, great special effects and a whole lot of fantasy galore..........
  3. Aug 13, 2011
    Didn't get my full attention. It's kind of dull and it's not the best fantasy movie I've ever seen.