Katherine Paterson, like Madeleine L'Engle, is a Christian writer who crafts poignant stories about young people who struggle with serious issues and then make sense of their world through vivid imagination and flourishes of fantasy.
But critics are cautioning audiences that the first feature film based on Paterson's work, Bridge to Terabithia, is not The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It's a story about a remarkable friendship between two young people who weave a world of imagination that helps them cope with daily hardships.
Peter T. Chattaway (Christianity Today Movies) says, "Those who take a chance on the film … may find it a reasonably mature and even poignant story about friendship, family and tragic loss."
But the film is unable to stimulate viewers' imaginations in the same way the book does. "In the original book, the children's experiences in Terabithia are described in strictly naturalistic terms; it is often only the dialogue between the children that clues you in to their imaginary world. … The film, on the other hand, turns Terabithia into a digitally-animated spectacle that invites the viewer to do nothing more than sit back and stare."
He adds, "The film taps into spiritual themes, too, though not as well as it could have—which becomes a bit of a liability when the story turns tragic."
Michael Brunk (Past the Popcorn) raves, "Happily, this may be among the best translations of a book to the big screen that I have seen, and I don't say that lightly. This is a very, very good thing in the case of Bridge to Terabithia, serving to introduce this heart-warming tale to new generations of readers. Adults will also likely find the movie just as engrossing as children. … There is a message ...1
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