After the cinema success of 'Charlotte's Web' last month, comes another big screen adaptation of a literary favourite with plenty for adults and children alike. Based on Lewis Padgett's 1943 sci-fi short story 'Mimzy Were the Borogoves', 'The Last Mimzy' manages to be fun and thought-provoking at the same time.

Ten-year-old Noah (O'Neil) and his five-year-old sister Emma (Wryn) bicker like all the best siblings. He's crazy into games and gadgets, she has no interest in any of them and their parents (Richardson, Hutton), both trapped on the treadmill of modern life, try to keep the peace in the house.

But a weekend trip to their holiday home near Seattle changes the family's lives forever. While out playing Noah and Emma discover a box which contains some very mysterious objects: a card-shaped crystal, a rock that looks like a meteorite, a sea shell, a jelly-like object that looks like part of a brain and a rabbit teddy. Noah and Emma don't tell their parents about their treasure, and soon discover that it's far more valuable and important than either of them imagined.

Sweet and smart, 'The Last Mimzy' mixes adventure with a powerful ecological message but never talks down to its target audience. Here the adult actors take a backseat to the two great young stars and director Shaye - a producer on the 'Lord of the Rings' series - gets excellent, naturalistic performances from both of them.    

Shaye builds the story up gradually and those unfamiliar with the original (written under the Padgett pseudonym by husband and wife duo Henry Kuttner and C L Moore) will wonder where exactly the plot is heading, and how the mysterious items in the box fit into a bigger plan. When that's revealed the story becomes even more intriguing.

Sadly, the film's biggest fault is that Shaye then rushes the ending. At around 90 minutes 'The Last Mimzy' needed another half-hour to do full justice to the plot and the finale lacks the power which it was building towards.

But, films have received far more acclaim for saying far less.

Harry Guerin