movie film review | chris tookey

Bridge to Terabithia

© Walt Disney/ Walden Media - all rights reserved
  Bridge to Terabithia Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
8.00 /10
Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel
Full Cast >

Directed by: Gabor Csupo
Written by: Jeff Stockwell, David Paterson

Released: 2007
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 95

Unimaginative film about imagination.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Hereís a childrenís movie, based on Kenneth Patersonís American best-seller, that promises much but delivers disappointingly little.

Jess (Josh Hutcherson, pictured right) is from an impoverished farming background and an outsider at school, who finds a kindred spirit in new girl Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb, pictured left). Is the basis of their attraction the fact that she looks like a young Keira Knightley, and is always beautifully lit? Apparently not Ė itís her ability to open up for Jess a wondrous new world of the imagination. Together, they invent the secret kingdom of Terabithia, only accessible by their swinging on a rope over a stream in the woods near their homes.

One problem is that director Gabor Csupo appears fatally undecided over whether Terabithia is real or imaginary. And itís grievously under-populated, with boring inhabitants, an event-free history and an invisible villain. On a scale of interest-value and imagination, if Middle Earth is 100 and Narnia 95, Terabithia would score about -3.This is a fatal defect in a picture thatís supposedly about the importance of imagination.

Both leading characters are likeable, and the movie has pleasant if unsurprising things to say about friendship, bullying and family life; but it also has a strange religiosity that I found off-putting.

After they attend a church service, Jess and Leslie argue over whether God condemns all unbelievers to Hell. This is a clumsy discussion that seems out of character, and just a contrived set-up for events later in the picture. And so it proves.

Though financed by Walden Media, the Christian outfit who were also instrumental in adapting C.S.Lewisís Narnia, this altogether lacks the emotional power and scale of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Bridge is a film that wants to explore religious themes but never quite has the courage to do so.

Intended to be a celebration of faith, it inadvertently shows up faithís limitations. And though it tries to be a fantasy, its realistic passages work far better.

In trying to link fantasy with reality, and ignore the abyss between those who embrace fundamentalist religions and those who have none, the well-meaning Bridge to Terabithia collapses under the weight of its own inadequacies.

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