One of the few recent movies I have seen that plunged me into that rare, giddy state of pleasurable confusion, of not knowing what would happen next, which I associate with the reading and moviegoing experiences of my own childhood.
One can't help but feel thankful that the movie doesn't always go the expected route, that the characters have a little more depth to them than average, and that the complexity, which is the movie's basic weakness, is also its fundamental virtue.
This movie, if it is as successful as it deserves to be, might just open slapstick-happy moviemakers' eyes to the idea that kids will flock to a story that explores dark issues.
That rare thing, a movie that will genuinely appeal to just about everyone in a family, though it emphatically is not the soppy pap that conventionally passes as a 'family film.'
Suffers even more than the Harry Potter films from a compulsion to be faithful to the source material, including cramming in a head-spinning assortment of characters and subplots.