I saw The Spiderwick Chronicles this week, and I was really impressed. I haven’t read the source material and can’t say how the film stacks up against the books, but on its own Spiderwick Chronicles has a great deal of awesome.
First of all, it’s a fun fantasy story with coherent internal logic, sympathetic characters and some excellent special effects. But more importantly (for me, anyway), the teenage girl in the movie is not a helpless damsel! She’s a sword-wielding fencer who reacts capably – and physically – to the startling events that unfold around her family. The main character is a young boy, of course, but the female members of his family are all interesting characters with at least as much depth as the secondary male characters in the film.
It’s not a perfect movie. It kind’ve makes sense that the cast is all white, since they’re all related, but still… And it bothered me a little that all of the “pretty” – and, incidentally, totally boring – fairies were female/feminine while the dangerous and ugly ones were male (or at least had male voices). But all in all, The Spiderwick Chronicles does very well indeed on the gender front, particularly for a children’s film. Awesome.