From the special effects-laden trailers, "Bridge to Terabithia" looks for all the world like the second coming of "The Chronicles of Narnia." It's not -- and that's a very good thing.
Firmly grounded in the real world and based on Katherine Paterson's 1977 Newbery Award-winning novel, "Bridge to Terabithia" is a wonderfully heart-wrenching love story for tweens, teens, and even adults who fondly remember when a friendship could be ignited by a gesture as simple as offering a stick of Juicy Fruit.
Set in a present day nondescript rural town, the film brings together two fifth-graders who couldn't come from more diverse backgrounds. Jess (Josh Hutcherson) is an aspiring artist and a local boy lost in the shuffle between four sisters and his parents' financial troubles. In contrast, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) is the well-to-do new girl in town, and with her boyish looks and trendy high-tops, she's instantly branded as the oddball whose writer parents don't own a TV.
Together, they escape the pressures of the real world by swinging across a creek on an "enchanted" rope and entering a forest Leslie dubs Terabithia, a world fueled by their imaginations and filled with dragonfly warriors, hairy vultures and other fanciful creatures. Watching Terabithia come alive courtesy of Weta Digital requires a leap of faith not needed in the novel (which describes Terabithia in only the vaguest terms), and as a result, the computer-generated special effects, while spectacular, often call too much attention to themselves.