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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bridge to Terabithia lacks magic of book

    Josh Hutcherson, left, and AnnaSophia Robb, right, star in Walt Disneys film production of Bridge to Terabithia. The film follows the two friends as they create a fantasy world to escape the real worlds harsh realities. They also like to run around and dress in Hot Topic punk outfits from 1997.
    Josh Hutcherson, left, and AnnaSophia Robb, right, star in Walt Disney’s film production of ‘Bridge to Terabithia.’ The film follows the two friends as they create a fantasy world to escape the real world’s harsh realities. They also like to run around and dress in Hot Topic punk outfits from 1997.

    Walt Disney and the equally family-friendly company Walden Media have been successful with their last big films: “”Charlotte’s Web”” and “”The Chronicles of Narnia.”” The newly released “”Bridge to Terabithia”” follows the tried-and-true formula: Take a successful book, throw in some CGI-animated talking animals and watch the money roll in.

    In case you’re not familiar with the Newbery Award-winning book by Katherine Paterson, the story focuses on a young boy named Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson). Jess spends the summer running so he can win a race at school. However, the new girl, Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), beats everyone on the first day of school. Leslie is ostracized for beating the boys and for being just plain weird. Jess tries to avoid her like the plague so he won’t be further ridiculed, but eventually he gets taken in by her offbeat creativity.

    The two of them find shelter from the cruelty of the outside world by exploring the woods together. They create an imaginary land called Terabithia that can only be reached by swinging on a rope across a creek. In their imaginary land, they are confronted by make-believe creatures that take on elements of the bullies in the real word; here, they are able to defeat them.

    The trailers for the film play up the fantasy

    Bridge to Terabithia
    Rating: PG
    Length: 95 minutes
    Prouction Company: Walt Disney Pictures

    elements, trying to attract the same viewers who were interested in “”Narnia”” or “”Lord of the Rings.”” The book keeps the illusions to a minimum, so it was appalling to see them attempt to turn the story into something it wasn’t. Fortunately, the fantasy parts are more toned down than the trailer suggests. When they are sprinkled in, they come off as cheesy. In Terabithia, the two children are tormented by a troll that looks similar to an older bully from school. The book kept this more metaphorical, whereas the film assures you can’t miss the parallels. It actually drains imagination from the plot.

    Disney’s attempts to make Leslie seem quirky and unusual are laughable. They dress her in multiple layers of Urban Outfitters-esque shirts and high lace-up sneakers. In fact, her outfits are similar to what many of the other kids in the movie are wearing. The plot doesn’t do much to establish her as an outsider.

    Robb does a great job playing Leslie despite these weaknesses. She has an easy air of confidence and uses her big eyes to her advantage to convey a sense of excitement. Hutcherson responds to Robb with the proper amount of lack of enthusiasm. He has fun with the times that require him to act like she’s gone crazy.

    Making a movie out of the book may have been a decent idea, but I shudder to think of the eventual “”Bridge to Terabithia 2: Return to Terabithia”” or “”Terabithia 2: Attack of the Trolls.”” It’s the same thing they’ve done to all their successful movies; they release a straight-to-video sequel which completely ruins any magic from the first. Let a good thing lie, please.

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