Starring: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel
Director: Gabor Csupo
Running Time: 95 mins
Bridge To Terabithia is an American film about a boy who befriends a new girl at school, and together they create a magical world of fantasy that they can escape to whenever things aren’t going so well.
So, for a Disney live-action film (not a particularly successful genre in the past), this is hugely impressive. I was hooked on the story from the first second, and was massively intrigued by the excellent characters, and even more so by the complex fantasies that come about as the two main characters bond.
One thing that I rarely commend in Disney kids’ films are the performances, but there’s no doubting here that Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb are fantastic here. They deal with a very complex story, and even more complicated characters very maturely and interestingly, for once being an example of ‘kids’ (even though they’re teenagers) not being massively frustrating in a Disney film.
However, this isn’t really a Disney film. Yes, a lot of it is about magical kingdoms and children’s fantasies, but it’s something very different to the generic thing you’d see. From the start, it’s by no means comedic, and is instead a very atmospheric, mysterious and deeply intriguing drama that encapsulates you in its various unpredictable twists and turns right until the end.
This film also takes a break from the norm in terms of the setting of the story. The kids involved are nowhere near normal school kids inventing a magical land for fun, but instead have genuine reasons to want to escape from their lives, as you see in some (rather subtle) exposition of their relatively deprived lives, which not only increased my interest significantly, but also heightens the drama and the seriousness of the whole story.
The only problem that I have with this film is that, after its excellent opening and establishing of the fascinating characters, there’s a period of about 20 minutes full of magical realism that doesn’t quite click as swiftly as it should, initially being more irritating than it is exciting, however that’s only a small issue in an otherwise fantastic film.
One of the reasons that this film is so outstanding however, is the final act. Although you feel somewhat of a heavy sense earlier on, there’s nothing that compares to one of the saddest and most emotionally resonant film endings I’ve ever seen, after the film takes a very dramatic turn that will likely leave you in floods of very genuine tears right up until the bitter end.
Overall, this gets an 8.1, because of its excellent story and characters, strong performances, successful break away from the generic Disney machine, and such a tough, heavy-going but powerful and beautiful ending.