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Bridge to Terabithia fuses magic with reality

As children look out into the green hills, a young girl tells her friend, ?close your eyes but keep your mind wide open.? With a smile, he opens his eyes and sees a beautiful kingdom surrounding a castle filled with mystical creatures.

Those looking for a magical action-packed film in Bridge to Terabithia are not going to find it. What will be found is a tale about two kids who bring imagination to life and learn valuable lessons about, love, loss and courage.

Bridge to Terabithia is based on the Newbery medal-winning book written by Katherine Paterson. As most movies derived from books drift away from it’s essence, I was surprised that the movie matched the book fairly well.

The movie is indeed fantasy in the sense that all the magic and wild creatures are created by the imagination of the two main characters Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) and Leslie Burke (Anna Sophia Robb).

The film begins as Aarons trains for a race that could declare him the fastest kid in the fifth grade. All is well, until a girl decides to venture onto the boys? side of the playground and run in the race. Burke beats all the boys, including Aarons.

The two become fast friends and embark to woods. Burke comes up with the idea of creating a magical kingdom just for the two of them where bullies and parents cannot enter. Thus producing ?Terabithia,? a mystical realm, which can only be entered by swinging across an enchanted rope across the creek.

The new friends build a castle stronghold and the adventure begins, when they allow a dark lord and evil creatures to roam Terabithia. These creatures represent the bullies and trials in their lives. In the product of their imagination, they can conquer anything with creativity and friendship. However, they must learn to apply their newfound confidence to the struggles they face in the real world.

The movie shows Aarons? problems at home as well as school. He feels different from the rest of his family; he has four sisters and is the middle child. His two older sisters pick on him, while the younger two worship him. All the while, his father constantly criticizes his hobby of drawing and daydreaming.

The family faces financial problems, which are shown at the beginning of the film as Aarons’ mother hands him a pair of his sister?s old pink sneakers to wear on the first day of school. His embarrassment causes him to color the pink shoes with a black marker.

The film makes the imagination of the children come to life by illustrating everything they dream up. It teaches valuable lessons about overcoming fears and reaching dreams that seem impossible. Between Terabithia and the real world, the storyline is easy to follow.

It was impressive how director Gabor Csupo fused magic with reality. Despite fantasy/action genre, the plot is realistic. Although I feel the movie did justice to the book, I recommend reading the piece before watching the movie as it better explains the relationship between Terabithia and the real world.

Due to thematic elements including bullying, some peril and mild language, The Bridge to Terabithia is rated PG.

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