Bridge to Terabithia

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb Robert Patrick and Zooey Deschanel
Icon Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 15 October 2007

Jesse Aarons is a small town kid, whose parents are financially struggling, school is no better and he remains a misfit in both his home and school. He finds solace in the fantastical pictures that he creates. Having spent all of one summer training to win a race, he is mortified when new, rich girl Leslie Burke beats him. From this inauspicious start the two are drawn together by their imaginations. Together they create the Kingdom of Terabithia where they can escape from the problems of the real world...

Bridge to Terabithia (2007) was directed by Gabor Csupo, based on the novel by Katherine Paterson and adapted for the screen by Jeff Stockwell and David Paterson.

The trailer and advertising for this film will give you the wrong impression of the films content, Weta Digital handled the effects, which in conjunction with the trailer give the idea that this will be a film full of special effects, like The Chronicles of Narnia (2005). Whilst there is CGI in the film it is really an adjunct to the main action rather than a major part of the film. That said this is a great movie.

I have watched more films than I care to think about which has an emotional numbing effect, but this film made me cry, much to the amusement of the other half until she too burst into tears. This coming of age movie has periods of triumph over adversity, of pubescent love, and a gut kicking about an hour in. I wont divulge what happens, as it would spoil your enjoyment of the film, just remember to have the hankies ready. I am always of the opinion that if a film can really touch you then it has done it work well.

The two leads do a fine job. AnnaSophia Robb, who had previously appeared as Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is like a younger version of Keira Knightley, in that she is able to project the same combination of strength and vulnerability. Josh Hutcherson carries the film well as Jesse. It would have been easy to make the relationship between them either too mawkish or to have dealt with the situation in a way which did not engage the audience. Csupo, however, deals with the relationship with an intelligently sensitive touch. You might want to watch the film for the CGI, but you will find yourself just as captivated by Jesse and Leslie's real life as much as the imaginary world they create.

The rest of the actors work well within their roles, though, for the most part they are there as backdrops to the pair's life, that said, two do stand out. The first is Bailee Madison who plays Jesse's little sister. Not only is she as cute as a button, but is also a good enough young actress to form one of the emotional connections both in Jesse's life and in the life of the film. Another strong performance is also given by Lauren Clinton who plays one of the pair's nemesis's, Janice Avery, who starts the film as the school bully and ends it as just another vulnerable human being. Not an easy transition, but Clinton pulls it off with ease.

The DVD is presented in 16:9 anamorphic with the choice of either 5.1 or DTS. The quality of the print on the review disc was flawless. There is quite a good selection of extras, a Behind the Book featurette as well as one on Bringing Terabithia to Life. Being a multi-talent young lady AnnaSophia Robb appears in a music video and there is a gallery of pics for you. There are cast interviews and three audio commentaries, one from the director, one from the cast and one from the cast and crew. On the down side the PR Blurb seems to think that the Icon Trailer Reel is a good thing, normally I don't mind these things, but I get really pi**ed off when they put them in front of the film so that you have to fast forward it every time you but the DVD in.

Overall this was masterful adaptation of the book which will touch you with its portrayal of the two friends. Well worth an hour and a half of anyone's time as it is without a doubt the best family film made in many years.

Charles Packer

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