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Bridge to Terabithia

by

Jeff Nelson

Bridge to Terabithia is an easy recommendation to audiences of all ages.

Bridge to Terabithia
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The live-action family movie category of films have been a bit disappointing recently. In fact, most of the movies for the whole family are either animation or aren't quite as mainstream in theaters. Walt Disney Pictures seems to be the biggest studio in the movie business to release these movies. This genre isn't usually my cup of tea, but I had Bridge to Terabithia a rental after the high praise it has received even years after the film was released. I firmly believe in giving all different types of cinema a chance. You just might be surprised.

New classmate Leslie Burke unlocks a mesmerizing world of fantasy and imagination for fifth-grader Jesse Aaron. The two outcasts, who begin as rivals, eventually become friends and create the make-believe kingdom of Terabithia. This is where they reign supreme and plot vengeance against school bullies. The issue of teasing and bullying has been a constant problem, especially towards those who are different. Similar to other Disney films, this is one of the many messages. The plot and the title itself may lead many to believe that the film primarily focuses on the imaginary lands of Terabithia. Bridge to Terabithia centers around the lives of these two youngsters and how their made-up world is an escape. Those who want to see a movie more concentrated on action and adventure should check out The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The two motion pictures are completely different films, but Bridge to Terabithia is clearly the better film. The screenplay is heartfelt and definitely shows its Disney roots at times. However, this movie is known for being a tearjerker and even making grown men cry. While I didn't weep, I teared up a little. It certainly pulls at the heart strings. Once we're introduced to Jesse and Leslie, it's difficult to not become attached to these lovable characters. Both of these outcasts go through a lot within the course of this film, which makes the desire to visit Terabithia greater. Walt Disney Pictures leaves its mark by leaving us with an ending full of hope. Writers Jeff Stockwell and David Paterson developed a well-written script around Katherine Paterson's book.

The actors fit the physical descriptions, but the screenplay is able to speak for itself in terms of telling the emotions of the characters. Regardless, the cast is appropriate. Josh Hutcherson plays Jesse Aaron. Alongside Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb does well as Leslie Burke. She surely shines the brightest here. The casting decisions for the two main characters is great. In supporting roles, Zooey Deschanel and Bailee Madison don't disappoint either. Deschanel performs as one of their teachers, Ms. Edmunds. Madison plays Jesse's younger sister, May Belle Aarons. Neither of their roles are given nearly as much screen time as either Hutcherson or Robb, but are suitable.

Most of the film takes place at school or at Jesse's house, but the teeth of the visuals are shown when Terabithia is explored. Everything from good CGI landscapes to a variety of creatures are contained in this fantasy world. Don't expect to see the level of animation seen in Avatar, but it's decent. The audio is just as impressive, if not more so. Whether the dialogue is spoken in a whisper or in a shout, it's never difficult to hear. All of the speakers are used well when Jesse and Leslie enter Terabithia. The surrounds are constantly active and the bass creates powerful and deep LFE that rattles the floorboards. Those with a 1080P television and home theater system are sure to witness the fantastic technical side.

Walt Disney Pictures' Bridge to Terabithia is better than I thought it would be. It's a sad, yet heartfelt film that has been unjustly judged by some audiences. Don't watch this assuming this to be similar to any of the Narnia flicks. The story line puts more emphasis on Jesse and Leslie than the world of Terabithia. The actors handle the material well and bring the characters to life effectively. I'm glad that I decided to give this movie a chance. Some of the topics could be a bit too serious for young children, but the messages are important. Bridge to Terabithia is an easy recommendation to audiences of all ages.

My Rating = Four Stars

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