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Visuals disappoint, charm gone from children’s tale of imagination

Walt Disney Pictures

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a weekly column that will review films in theaters and films available in the Mills College Library.

The film Bridge to Terabithia is Disney’s attempt to adapt a popular children’s book with the same title written by Katherine Paterson and Donna Diamond. It is the story of two sixth grade outcasts who bond through their love of running.

One day, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) and Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) decide to race to the end of the road they live on. At the end, they stumble upon a rope that swings over a river. The rope becomes their bridge to a kingdom where their imaginations make up the rules.

Bridge to Terabithia is the touching story of these children and their imaginations and has a unique quality for a children’s film: It carries important messages, though certain elements of the film are lackluster.

The film looks nothing like its poster, whose blue hue hints at Pan’s Labyrinth. The latter film is for adults. Bridge to Terabithia definitely is not for adults – and maybe even some children. Children that are interested in reading might get more out of the book.

The film succeeds in drawing the story’s effect out of the audience, if book itself has not already done so. But on its own, the film does not succeed at making a visual impression.

Visually, it is a bit displeasing. This film comes from the company that invented Mickey Mouse and The Lion King. But the computer effects in this film seem more like a practice run.

The two main actors make some of the clich‚ dialogue digestible, but most of the other actors don’t. Zooey Deschanel does a good job playing the music teacher, and there is an awesome attempt to march against Janice the Bully. Alas, all the charming elements of the story are only present in the book. In the film, certain sad plot twists feel gratuitous and seem like they have been placed only to set up the less than gratifying effects and tearjerker moments.

RATING: Two out of five stars – Take your kids if they refuse to read or scream bloody murder if you won’t take them. But be warned: temptations to scoff will not be few.