This Week's Review: "The House with a Clock in Its Walls"

For my September 24 venture to a cinema, I chose “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” I am unfamiliar with any of the 12 novels by John Bellairs about a 12-year-old, would-be warlock, and I am not sure this film makes me anxious to investigate them.

I was a trifle wary of this film because of the presence of Jack Black; Black can be good, but he has a tendency to be in mediocre films. On the other hand, the presence of Cate Blanchett in the cast made the film significantly more appealing to my jaundiced eye. In the first half of the film, Black was so bad, I was squirming. I gave serious thought to leaving; however, once the confrontation between the forces of good and evil got down to serious business, the film improved drastically.

The plot is achingly familiar: an evil wizard wants to come back from the dead and destroy everything. Yes, that sounds too much like the plot of the “Harry Potter” series. Since I am not familiar with the books, I don’t know if this script follows the original faithfully or if there has been a wee bit of “lifting.”

The special effects are the only thing that makes this film worth watching, but there are some very gross scenes, especially when a topiary beast gets indigestion. Wait a minute, isn’t that from “The Shining”? In short, there is very little fresh material to make this film interesting. One final tsk: the clock is not in the walls.

The choices for September 29 don’t look very appetizing, but we shall see.