The Secret Of Moonacre (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/02/2009

One out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Poorly written, badly acted and ultimately disappointing fantasy adventure that suffers from plodding direction and fails to connect on an emotional level.

What's it all about?
Based on the novel The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge, The Secret of Moonacre stars Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra from The Golden Compass) as Maria Merryweather, a young orphan who is sent to Moonacre Manor, along with her quirky companion, Miss Heliotrope (Juliet Stevenson), in order to live with her coldly distant Uncle Benjamin (Ioan Gruffudd). Exploring the manor, Maria finds a book called The Secret Chronicles of Moonacre Valley, in which she discovers that she is a Moon Princess, destined to end an ancient feud between her family and the sinister forest people who dwell in the woods outside the manor.

The Bad
Director Gabor Csupo scored a minor fantasy hit with 2007's Bridge to Terabithia, but sadly he fails to repeat that success here. The script lacks imagination and the story is both tedious and occasionally confusing, while Csupo fails to inject the action with anything resembling life or energy.

In addition, the performances are either subdued and dull (a chemistry-free Ioan Gruffudd and Natasha McElhone) or embarrassingly pantomimic (Juliet Stevenson, mugging for England, and Andy Linden, struggling with unfunny material as magical chef Marmaduke Scarlet), with only Dakota Blue Richards emerging unscathed. At any rate, none of the actors look particularly comfortable and the film suffers as a result.

The Worst
To make matters worse, the production design looks like they blew the entire budget on the costumes (which are, admittedly, pretty good) and forgot to leave money for decent special effects or sets. The cliff-top finale set, for example, looks like it was knocked up in an afternoon on a tech-savvy crew member's laptop, while the magical effects are shamefully bad, especially next to something like the recent Inkheart.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Secret of Moonacre is a desperately dull adventure that fails to engage on an emotional level, thanks to unimaginative direction, misjudged performances, shoddy production design and a dismal script. Rent The Spiderwick Chronicles instead.

Film Trailer

The Secret Of Moonacre (U)
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Content updated: 22/10/2017 22:12

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