In a refreshing way, this movie did not so much retell the story in the books, but rather condensed all five books into one movie. The creature designs stayed fairly consistent with the artist's vision and the feel of the books. The actors did a nice job (there were a couple spots where I thought the boys could use some extra work). I absolutely loved the manner in which the actor portraying Arthur Spiderwick played his role. I wish I could remember his name but it eludes me.
And they used the field guide with the illustrations from the book you can purchase on store shelves. That, I think, was ingenious! Think of all the kids that'll want to buy the Field Guide . . . even some of the kids at heart (I unashamedly count myself among them!)
This movie has the most natural movements and interaction of fictional creatures that I have seen since Lord of the Rings. The Gryphon was absolutely fabulous and they inserted a long scene in which it takes the children for an exciting flight. In Harry Potter & the Prizoner of Azkaban they did a nice job with the Hypogryph . . . but this movie's effects with the Gryphon beat it (in my humble opinion) and the movement of the wings was natural, not a hint of the stiffness usually accompanying such special effects. They also did a marvelous job with Thimbletack . . . marvelous!
Overall, I give this movie a great rating. It didn't make my top ten, but it certainly was enjoyable and will find a special place in my collection. Please note: there were several uses of God's name in vain, even by the children in the movie. Thank goodness that wasn't in the books (though the authors' latest book has one instance of that in "Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles." This movie was a worthwhile investment for my 6 dollars!