Review: By Morgan Stewart
It is hard to put into writing just how marvelous and wonderful Bridge to Terabithia really is, yet as I attempt it, I can't help feeling disturbed at how ridiculous people are being about the marketing of this film. Thank goodness most real critics have looked past the agreeably deceptive marketing, into the heart and beauty of this film, which, with or with the misleading advertisements is impressive. After seeing it, I struggled to think of a better way of marketing this film, without giving away its ending or taking away the only audience that still seems to watch PG movies, kids.
After watching it, however, I couldn't imagine taking anyone under ten to see it, nor could I imagine anyone under ten enjoying it as much as young adults, or even older audiences would. So, as deceptive as the advertising was, I myself realize that the fascinating story, the charm and skill of the actors, and the good direction of newcomer to live action film-making, Gabor Csupo, more than makes up for the slightly skewed first impressions. And I am eternally grateful that it did not turn into what everyone seemed to want, a cheesy Narnia rip-off. If anything, the movie was a lot better than the preview made it seem to be, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Instead of the brash and rude approach to filming movies, that seems to be the standard today with effects driven movies, Terabithia focuses on the characters, the story, and the heart when telling this beautiful tale. Which, is part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much. Too often now days the story is built around the effects, not around the characters. A rather cumbersome and annoying way to tell a story, or be told a story, if you ask me. Instead, Terabithia uses the talents of both the amazing young actors, and its adult cast to enthrall and absorb the viewer in the magic of imagination and the reality of every-day life.
The story focuses on young Jess Aarons, whose school life and home life aren't all that ideal. He deals with bullies at school, and four sisters at home. Josh Hutcherson, who I haven't particularly enjoyed before, plays the part of Jess perfectly, his emotions and reactions spot on, throughout.
What is a school without the new girl? Leslie Burke, played by AnnaSophia Robb, takes on the part of the imaginative and friendly new girl and brings to Jess gifts of imagination and friendship. Robb truly does a superb job in bringing to life the thoughtful and imaginative Leslie Burke.
All of the supporting cast was also brilliantly portrayed. I especially enjoyed the performances of Robert Patrick as Jess's father, and young Bailee Madison as Jess's little sister May Belle.
Together, Jess and Leslie create a world to call their own. A place that no one else can get to, a place in their imaginations. Terabithia, a land of beautiful creatures and dangerous enemies, springs forth from their imaginations, and becomes a place to call their own, away from the bullies and monotony of everyday life.
What really struck me as brilliant was the limited, yet still perfect number of glimpses into the children's' imaginations. We don't see a lot of Terabithia, which is good, because it is more about the journey of the characters, than the land of Terabithia. That said, it still has quite a few more scenes of adventure than the book by Katherine Patterson, all of which add to, not take away from the story.
The writing, also is quite good. David Patterson, son of the novel's author takes great care when adapting the beloved work of his mother into a screenplay. Most of the lines from the book aren't there, but there are a few which make it in, revealing the care and love that was put into the scripting of this movie. Personally, I enjoy the screenplay of the movie more than the words of the book, but that is just my opinion. The movie's script greatly aided in the believability of the characters, and the motion of the scenes, which were crisp and well-planned.
The movie touched on my every emotion, bringing me to tall peaks of happiness and leaving me teary-eyed and disconsolate, but still had a perfect and satisfying ending. I also, personally thought, the scenes and situations were more powerful, poignant, and realistic, than the book, which surprises me. Usually, the movie can't live up to the book. In this case, the phrase seemed switched around. The book didn't live up to the movie. As weird as it is for me to say this about a movie, Terabithia touched my heart like no film has ever before. And I doubt any film will give me quite the same feeling, ever again.