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With Harry Potter waving his wand in the way of all things magical and fantastical, there's been a clamour within Hollywood to delve into libraries and unearth the next saga of goblins and ogres to enchant the younger generations for at least a couple of hours.

Based on the bestselling series of books of the same name, 'The Spiderwick Chronicles' is the latest in a run of kids' fantasy stories - from 'Lemony Snicket' to 'The Chronicles of Narnia' to 'The Dark Is Rising' and 'The Golden Compass' - to be brought to life on the big screen.

While not to the standard of the Harry Potter movies, director Mark Waters' vision of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's series nonetheless hits the mark and is an enjoyable romp that is sure to please younger audiences whilst not sending their accompanying parents dosing off to never-never-land.

The film centres on three children - Mallory (Bolger), Jared (Highmore) and twin brother Simon (also played by Highmore) - who, along with their mother (Parker), have come to live in a spooky old house formerly owned by their mother's uncle, Arthur Spiderwick (Strathairn).

With their parents having just split up, Jared lays the blame for the separation firmly at his mother's door and so, unlike his siblings, reacts to the news angrily when in her company.

Running amok in the house, he stumbles upon an old book marked 'Do Not Touch', an instruction he of course disobeys with boundless enthusiasm, unleashing a world of magical beings, honey-guzzling brownies and fearsome goblins in the process.

The book in question is Arthur Siderwick's life's work - an exhaustive account of the magical beings around his house and a guide, which is ruthlessly coveted by an evil shape-shifting ogre named Mulrath (Nolte).

In opening the book, Jared awakens Mulrath's interest and the Spiderwick mansion is soon besieged by evil, biting goblins working on Mulrath's behalf.

'The Spiderwick Chronicles' sits somewhere between the magical world of 'Harry Potter' and the fantastical, eccentric adventures of the children in 'Lemony Snicket'. Enjoyable, and at times even surprising, the film elicits a fine performance from emerging Dublin actress Sarah Bolger ('In America'), though it is Highmore who excels once again.

Playing two characters, the star of 'Finding Neverland' brings out the volatility in Jared whilst softening to play the more blasé Simon, and his performance - for a child - is all the more praiseworthy given that, for the most part he would have acted opposite a blue screen.

Though by no means classic children's cinema, 'The Spiderwick Chronicles' is a fine way to wind down the kids' hours over the Easter break and a much better bet for older viewers than 'Jumper' or '10,000 BC'.

Steve Cummins