tek's rating:

Charlotte's Web (G)
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This is a 2006 live-action/CGI movie based on the 1952 book of the same name, which I've never read. There was previously an animated movie based on the book, in 1973, which I must have first seen sometime in the 80s. I didn't get around to seeing this film until 2013. Apparently it stays closer to the book than the animated movie did, but I couldn't comment on that. Um... so, this stars Dakota Fanning as Fern, and has a bunch of famous people doing voices for animal characters, including Julia Roberts as the title character, Charlotte the spider (who is CGI). I suppose I mainly wanted to see this because I'm a fan of Fanning's work, and of course she did a good job here, as did Roberts and all the other voice actors. (The other live-action actors were okay, too.) Still, I didn't really expect to like this movie as much as the original, partly because I'd seen pictures of the CGI spider, which looked much more realistic and therefore creepy than the cartoon spider from the other movie. But ultimately, that very fact played into one of the things I liked better about this movie. Because it set up Charlotte's explanation, near the end, of why Wilbur the pig was actually special. It always bothered me in the original movie that Wilbur got more credit from the humans than Charlotte did, but her appreciation of Wilbur ended up making more sense to me, in this movie. So... because of that, and a few other details, I've rated this movie a bit higher than the original. But even so, I'm more likely to want to watch the original again than this one (or at least more often than this one; nostalgia is a powerful thing).

I suppose I've gotten ahead of myself, alluding to things about Charlotte and Wilbur, without first establishing the plot of the film. And honestly, I don't feel like rehashing it, since I've already written about the plot in my review of the original. So I suggest you just click on the words "animated movie" in the previous paragraph, to read that review, if you want to know about the plot. Because, aside from the fact that this movie is live-action and has no songs, it's fundamentally the same story. (There are a couple of good songs that play over the closing credits of this movie, as well as a good score by Danny Elfman, throughout the film. But I don't think there were any songs in the movie itself.) There are a few other differences, though (assuming none of these are things I just don't remember about the original). There are a couple of funny crows in this movie that weren't in the original. And we see a bit more of Templeton the rat in this one. And the other animals were more important in this one. And I thought in general this movie had more really funny moments than the original. And Fern was a bit more proactive in this one. And there was a doctor (presumably a psychiatrist) to whom Fern's mother talked about her fears concerning Fern spending all her time with animals, but he was very reassuring. And there was a very nice moment between Charlotte and Templeton, near the end. And I may very well be forgetting some other details that had struck me while I watched. (Or not.) But mostly the story was the same. I felt that in general the emotional chords struck by both movies were the same, and of course there's the same bittersweet ending.

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