The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a very weird children's film. It has some great spots mixed with absolutely horrible segments and some aspects that just don't make sense. At the start it's actually quite good having the right balance of mystery with wonder. It's based around a young kid that ends up having to live with his uncle.
From there he learns about the mysterious house they reside in and elements of how to use magic as a warlock. This is actually interesting and its application makes sense. It's a darker film which was surprising, but still one that any audience could easily watch. What's strange is that it can get rather dark at times with the use of blood magic and some more adult material. This is then poorly balanced against material from the complete opposite direction and it doesn't mix. I'm being generally vague in terms of what is shown as that will spoil portions of the film.
The quality of the film was excellent with some very well done CGI. Some of it didn't quite hit that mark, but for the most part it was implemented perfectly well. It had a nice balance of sets against mystical locations and it felt balanced as a realistic situation. It's a time piece and it captures that era well while making the characters slightly strange which worked into the themes the movie was presenting.
The acting was fine with the kid doing well, I enjoyed Jack Black's presence as the uncle. His witty battles against Cate Blanchett were for the most part funny. There are some bad tonal shifts in this one and it really goes off the rails towards the end. It was disappointing to see such a promising concept just turn bad. The latter half was certainly weaker than the former. I was also perplexed by the limitations of the magic as the rules seemed too inconsistent.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls has its moments, but with weird tonal shifts completely falls apart about half way through. It becomes rather boring, slow and then generic in how it concludes. I did like the start quite a bit and it's a shame where things ended up. It had that darkness element going well for it and it ends with a stupid final conclusion.
The acting is fine for the most part, as is the CGI with well delivered fantasy scenes with just enough wonder. There were some neat parts to the overall adventure, though the rules of magic could have been explained better. Sometimes they could do powerful things, other times it was useless with regular tool based combat being used. I thought the school parts were handled in a proper way and the setting was great.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls Review at Theater with Standard Viewing
Screening Provided by NBC Universal