Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Adventure Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

I don’t understand the point of this film. It seemed to me like any direction that it took ended up working against its messages and reason for existing, just for it to contradict itself once again. Take, for example, a couple of scenes that involve religion. They come from out of nowhere, and then disappear without having a purpose or anything to say. Or if they did, I didn’t get why they were there. Then, later on, these earlier scenes seem to be completely ignored, as Bridge to Terabithia takes a different turn.

It also seems that any circumstance that can be looked at as tragic only comes through whenever the plot demands it. Our lead character is Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson), a child in fifth grade. His family is poor, as we’re told a few times and we’re also told that they often have trouble making ends meet. But they have cable TV, and a nice phone. We never actually see them having difficulty paying the bills or having to cut back, it’s just talked about, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be an important dynamic of his family.

One day at school, a new student arrives. Her name is Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), and she also has problems at home. Well, she mentions once or twice that her parents, both writers, don’t spend much time with her. Except we see them and they’re nice people, and almost every time they’re on-screen, they hang out with their daughter. I guess that the character was meant to seem deeper if given a half-hearted issue, but since that problem never comes through in the film, it fails to leave an impression.

The two kids become quick friends, due to the fact that they’re both outcasts. Jess is one because his family is a farming family, and therefore “poor”, (again, this is mentioned but never actually shown), while Leslie isn’t adored by everyone for some reason. I’m still not sure on this one. She’s friendly, she’s athletic and she shows that she’s smart. Maybe it’s just her clothing choice, which mixes hippie and tomboy. Or maybe it’s because she’s a plot device and nothing else. That’s probably my best guess.

Leslie soon proves that she knows more about the world than Jess does, and tries to instill some values in him that will end up improving his life. The children go to a forest where they dream up all sorts of things like trolls and cougar-squirrels. They use these imagination sessions to help contextualize and overcome their real world problems. I can see this being interesting, but unfortunately Bridge to Terabithia does nothing with the idea.

There doesn’t appear to be anything that Leslie has to learn from these trips to the forest. She seems to do it to have fun and help Jess, but not herself. Everything is taught to him, but there’s nothing offered in exchange. The two are friends, sure, and they seem to have fun together, but there’s nothing deeper. That type of story is saved for the relationship between Jess and his music teacher, Ms. Edmunds (Zooey Deschanel).

Jess has a crush on her, that’s fairly obvious from the first or second scene that they are both involved in. They have some conversations, but none of them are different from the ones between Jess and Leslie. The same sentiments are discussed here, just like with Leslie. Everything that Ms. Edmunds says is an echo of what Leslie already told us scenes before. “Open your mind”. Okay, we get it. We don’t need something like, especially in a fantasy film, bashed into our head.

If you are going into Bridge to Terabithia hoping to get a lot of fantasy adventures, you are going to be disappointed. The marketing might have advertised it this way, but that’s not what the film ends up being at all. It’s essentially a coming-of-age story that has a few short fantasy moments whenever the lead children need to escape from reality. These scenes are few and far between, and that’s likely for the best, because the CGI used to create the creatures that the kids dream up is unconvincing, to put it lightly

Some of the actors did a good job. AnnaSophia Robb gave the film energy as Leslie, and the film picks up, if only slightly, once she appears. However, most of the dialogue coming from both her and Jess was cringe-worthy. I also enjoyed the soundtrack, which, while sounding like a generic fantasy film, was at least pleasant to listen to. But the acting and soundtrack were unable to make a film like this one enjoyable.

Mention must also be made of the film’s ending, or at least, the events leading up to its ending. There’s a twist that will likely surprise some, or possibly even most people. But it’s melodramatic and doesn’t have any real reason to have happened. I also failed to care about anything in the movie, meaning that it was hard to feel anything from such a pointless twist that seemed to be trying way too hard.

Bridge to Terabithia should have been better than it was. It had a talented enough cast, and was based on a critically acclaimed novel. But almost nothing works the way that it should. Any points the film brings up are either neglected or contradicted, the dialogue is terribly written and I couldn’t feel anything for any of the characters. The melodramatic ending came off as flat, and the CGI was terrible. I felt robbed of my time, and still couldn’t figure out what point there was to its creation.

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