Bridge to Terabithia – Review

Bridge to Terabithia

The trailers and television spots for this film gave me the impression that it was going to be another “Harry Potter” or, more appropriately, another “Chronicles of Narnia”. You know, a movie where a group of adorable kids travel to a beautiful fantasy world and engage in a slew of amazing adventures, jam-packed with gorgeous special effects and CGI from start to finish.

Well, that’s not what this movie is like at all, but I’m sure that everyone who read the book (ie: not me) already knew this. So, even though this movie is only somewhat similar to what the marketing campaign promised, is it any good? Yeah, actually, it’s pretty good.

Jess (Josh Hutcherson) is a young boy with a gift for creative art but is constantly forced to repress his imagination by his father (Robert Patrick), who wants him to “keep his head out of the clouds”. Things change when a new girl, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb), arrives at school. Leslie is the daughter of two fiction authors and has a wild imagination. Gradually, she helps Jess set his imagination free and the pair become fast friends. Together, Jess and Leslie create their own fantasy world known as Terabithia, where they use their imaginations to escape from reality as well as devise means to conquer their own personal problems.

At first I was disappointed with the film because I felt like I’d been snookered by a very misleading marketing campaign. Then, as I began to understand the real point of the movie, I came to appreciate it. For the most part, anyway.

“Bridge to Terabithia” is for kids, more-so than “Narnia” and “Harry Potter”. It is not crawling with special effects like the trailers imply (in fact, just about all the special effects in the film are shown in the trailers), but instead is a much more personal tale about two close friends growing up and making the most of the time they have together. For at least the first half of the film, yes, the entirety of the plot is basically two kids frolicking in the woods and having imaginary adventures. Kind of like live action role-players, only okay, because they’re children and not mentally-stunted 30 year-olds.

I was a bit “Meh” through the first half. I could tell it was a good movie for kids, and I’m sure if I’d been a ten year old I would’ve been having a great time, but I didn’t feel like I was in the right target audience. Then the big twist happened halfway through and I was in shock. I won’t say any more about it for those of you who don’t want spoilers, but I will say that it was an emotionally thrashing moment which hits you like a bus (if you haven’t read the book or had it spoiled for you, anyway). It was here where I understood the movie’s true lesson, or at least, the dominating one: treasure every moment of your childhood and never let the good memories escape.

It’s kind of hard to talk about the movie (the parts I really liked, anyway), because I don’t want to spoil it. So I’ll talk about something else.

The special effects provided by Walden Media (the “Lord of the Rings” people), as sparingly as they’re used, are up to their usual standards of quality. The fantastic creatures and landscapes which make-up Terabithia are quite cartoonish, but they’re supposed to represent the imagination of a child, so it’s perfectly appropriate.

There’s also the acting from the two lead kids, which impressed me quite a bit. AnnaSophia Robb shines brightest as the wild and rambunctious one, not coming off anywhere near as annoying as characters of her archetype usually do. Josh Hutcherson also carries his role quite well, playing a boy with a strong imagination but crippling amounts of responsibility. The kids who played the supporting characters, such as school bullies and what-not, aren’t so notable. They’re your typical child actors, so I’m not going to rag on them for being underwhelming.

One of the film’s other lessons is one I felt rather strongly about: kids, use your freaking imaginations! In this age of video games where fantasies are mass-produced by corporations and kids are getting out and playing with each other less and less, a movie that comes along and inspires kids to play “pretend” is quite welcome. It was always my favorite game, growing up. The film captures what having fun as a kid and using your imagination is like, and as an adult whose not allowed to do that anymore, I almost found myself longing for simpler (and more fun) times.

So if you’re expecting sword, sorcery and epic quests from “Bridge to Terabithia”, I’m sorry, but you aren’t going to find them here. Now, if you have kids and you want to inspire them to go outside and play, then this is more up your alley.

Grade: B+

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26 Comments on “Bridge to Terabithia – Review

  1. I agree the messages in this movie were also accept peoples differences in life like homelife and religion,question why bullies are who they are..this movie reminds me of movies when i was a kid …a hidden great message… and i also wont give it away but another message that is so important to us all ….I thought this was a great movie and all six kids that i took to it loved it.

  2. I just went and watched this today. It was a big surprise, I was expecting another Narnia, but it turned out being a good drama. Waiting for the ‘Narnia’ to happen kept my intrigue. Then with 2 minutes left, Narnia finally happened.

    Good plot, good movie. I recommend it for families. Just don’t go in expecting graphics or a fantasy plot.

  3. I viewed Terabithia with my nine-year-old daughter last weekend. Decided to take her back and bring her friend, my nephew, and my 70-year-old mom for the second viewing. I’m considering going a third time next weekend with a larger crowd. Need I say more? I will. I’ve never read the book, but I now intend to have it on my daughter’s shelf. The rip-off, if there is one, is the promise of a real life story in The Chronicles of Narnia – which is fundamentally a work of fiction to preach Christianity to the uninitiated. Terabithia starts with something real and tells a story worth telling – with the Christian message subtly woven into the fabric. Perhaps C.S. Lewis should have spent less time in the Pub and more time with children before he spun his yarn. Terabithia is the Salvation of which C.S. Lewis must have been dreaming for Narnia. Paterson got it right – if she didn’t then the director’s follow through did. Magnificent.

  4. This is a great review. I expected exactly the same thing from all of the marketing; another Narnia. The whole review seems almost exactly what I would have written. I went, though, after I discovered it was not going to be another Narnia. Origionaly I didn’t have any excitement about seeing it. After seeing it I sort of hit an epiphany on life. As far as cherishing childhood and using imagination goes. My mother always complimented me on my imagination and how I got so excited about all the crazy things I cooked up in my head. Kind of like leslie in a way. Anyway I don’t mean to talk myself, I’m just so happy a movie was made on kids with such creativity.
    By the way, I love the comment made on videogames. It’s so true.
    I just wish I had the energy to write a book.
    I even thinks this movie targets kids in their late teens and people in their early twentys. Thats a little hint on my age.
    I completely agree with this review and the other two comments above me.

  5. This book was great..I love it so much. I read it so much and I like the way Tabitha’s is was create
    Love Melanie

  6. I didnt quite remember that it was based off of the book until I was sitting in the theater, and it all came back to me and I remembered reading it when I was in grade school. I too was impressed by the acting of the two lead roles. All in all I dont think that you could transform the book into a much better movie than this.

    I loved it.

  7. Im only young myself and have never cried before in a movie ( ive watched many heartbreaking stories though) , I did expect high adventure “narnia” type of genre but when it came to it this movie was much better than i expected bringing tears to my eyes and has left me feeling sad because of it. For Parens who want to know what the big story is about it and whether to ake your young ones read below

    Spoiler below

    The movie’s twist in it is that the boys new best friend dies after the rope over the canal to the area where terrabbithia lays snaps and she drowns ( You only hear it you do not actually see it happen) this happens around half way through and shows alot of moview afterwards – 4 star

  8. I have just been to see the film with my 12 year old son and husband, thinking it was going to be a fun family film but we left the cinema disappointed, and, quite frankly, quite depressed. I do feel that the marketing of the film may have catered more to the masses, giving the impression that this would be another Narnia-type adventure film, which it is definitely not. The “magical” creatures and scenes are fleeting and short-lived and excitement is not featured highly here.

    I don’t really know if there is a message within the film – perhaps I need to be a child to see it. But the “morale of the story” is questionable and the whole direction is skewed. Make friends with one bully so they can deck the other bully? Parents, get your older children to look after the younger ones, and have children when you can’t provide basic footwear for them? Ridicule your children and make them miserable. They give the main character, the poor put-on Jess, a great best friend and them – wham – well, we know what happens there. Chuck in a bit of religion to confuse children about Hell and whether they could go there doing something wrong. Hmm.

    I do like to be entertained at the cinema and it doesn’t need to be an action-packed movie, or even laugh a minute frivolity. But this was a little too heart-wrenching, although sensitively performed, in my opinion for family viewing.

    Whatever happened to happy-ever afters? This is possibly the most miserable childrens’ film I’ve ever been to.

  9. I’m to young to know how the movie will affect children’s.

    I’m a guy, 27.
    And not many movie that inspires me more than this.

    Hardworking, eyes wide open, open minded, be a gentlemen, bite when you got disturbed to much, responsibilities.

    This is a realistic movie, i don’t if children would understand it clearly, i guest with a parental guide, its a fantastic movie.

  10. I cannot belive this film, I thought it was going to be fun and happy,
    I was wrong. All that happened with the 3 main characters is sad,
    1 , and two imagining a world for themselves that doesn’t exist.
    This is the worst film I have ever watched

  11. Well i was really into it about halfway through, but when the whore *incident* happends i hated the movie, it kind of wrecked it.
    I though.. Erm was hoping that it was gonna be a feel good.

    I didnt really like how treabithia was suposed to be jess’s and leslie’s “place” But then when *it* happens and he doesnt end up seeing her there… it didnt work well with the movie.

    Then he brings his sister there…
    So much for Their place…

    Ide give it a B

  12. @ Debra: Wow, happily ever afters? Welcome to reality babe.

  13. I agree with Debra. The film is really depressing. What is the morale of the story? – especially one aimed at young viewers? Certainly not that good will triumph over bad. A teacher does a good turn, boy has a lovely enriching day – and ends up feeling depressed and guilty because of the turn of events. What is this teaching our kids? It could have been a lovely film – but I just wish we could re-write the outcome. I’m an adult and the film left me feeling miserable and hopeless. I pity the kids who have to try to work this one out.

  14. I thing this is an amazing movie i just saw it for the first time and although the subplots are accepting people for who they are and now how they live, i think that the main hidden meaning in this movie would have to be the fact of how people can affect anothers life and how much people can better eachother

  15. Impeccable story… If you’re looking for another Narnia kind of fairy tale, then this is not for you. Yep! It is heartbreaking, but without which it would have been just another fairy tale which might not have explained the pain of losing such a precious friend in your life. I never take things so personally when it happens on the screen, but this is one among the exceptions…

  16. i fInK iTz pReTi gUd i oNlI rEaD dAh bOoK nEvAh gOt a cHaNcE 2 gO nD c iT aT dAh mOvIeZ bUt i tHiNk tHe bOooK pReTi mUcH gAvE tHe wHoLe mOvIe aWaY jUsT bY sEeInG dAh sHoRtZ!!


    ..x O x…

  17. U kno…ppl always gota look at movies as if theyre supposed to take us away from the real world…and they are. But ive noticed that many ppl dont like the movies with the realistic endings…i also used to like the “happily ever after” endings….i still do sometimes. But I LOVED this movie…i was a little bored, if thats the correct word, during the middle, but the ending totally caught me off guard. At first i hated it…but then i got thinkin…and after bout 10 minutes of crying…lol…i realized that the ending showed how strong ppl can still b after a kind of traumatic occurence as losing a best friend…and there are plenty of other morales in this movie….all in all….it has some underlying tones most kids would not understand….and thats wat made it enjoyable to me. Im only 18 and i have not cried that much since…like the Titanic….lol…I give this movie…

    4 1/2 STARS

  18. Pingback: Peter Pan (Disney, 1953) - Review - Movie Reviews Blog

  19. this movie was a waste of money very boring. 99% boring and 1% sad

  20. y cant leslie go to the terabithia on weekendss

  21. “Whatever happened to happy-ever afters? This is possibly the most miserable childrens’ film I’ve ever been to.”

    There are so many happily ever afters in films now that I can’t believe you want another one. Do you know what the real tragedy of this movie and the way its marketing was used is? It’s that the marketers think audiences are stupid because:

    A) They think people will be fooled into thinking The Bridge to Terabithia will be Narnia Two Point Oh, and will spend 12 dollars to just see more of the same thing.

    B) Going with that thought, marketers do not trust audiences to go see a movie that tries to deal with true to life issues. So they have to market the movie as something much dumber to attract a dumber audience.

    Marketers should have more faith in people to go see a good movie. But then, we are the audience that made Transformers and X-Men: Wolverine to be commercial successes. So quite frankly, I’m inclined to agree with the marketing people that audiences cannot be trusted to go see a good movie.

  22. This movie was well presented, and as a young person myself , yes, thought that what happened was sad, i was 11 when i saw this movie and it made me cry. But i realised that things like this sometimes happen and that it was a real life problem, something that may have happened to other children. I thought that the ending was happy, that even though he couldn’t share it with Leslie he shared it with May-belle. The thing i didn’t like about the movie most was the way the father treated Jess. The scene where he was saying goodnight to may-belle and then turned to jess and all he said was “lights out”, Almost broke my heart.

  23. I haven’t seen the movie, but have read the book, which was very good. I think that with all the “happily ever after” movies and books out there, this was rather relieving. At some point in their life, everyone is gonna lose someone important to them, and the happy ending stereotypicalization is just going to mislead them. Even if a person knows, consciously, that someone in there life is eventually going to die, that doesn’t change the fact that it catches them off guard. This book (movie) is intelligent, philosophical, and really makes a good point- life isn’t eternal. Eventually, immortal as they may seem, your family and friends are going to die. I don’t mean to be depressing, it’s true. What, we can’t have any realistic movies? They all have to be stupid and unrealistic? I like Kevin’s comment- the marketing knows the public is too dumb to be trusted with going to see an intelligent movie. They want to be ignorant and go see movies that seem to teach people that everything is going to be okay in the end. Please, people, be smarter.

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