'The House With A Clock In Its Walls' Is An Eyesore

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And that action, at least initially, is about introducing an orphaned boy to a world of wonders that effectively stifles his bouts of grief.

The geeky new kid in town is Lewis Barnavelt Owen Vaccaro , who's arrived to stay with his estranged Uncle Jonathan, his only living relative, after his parents' death in a car crash.

He soon learns that Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman are magicians and they happily welcome him into late-night card-and-cookie sessions and introduce him to some lighter spells. The one serious quirk in Jonathan's house is that it has a clock hidden somewhere behind the walls, but neither he nor Mrs. Zimmerman can figure out where it is or what it's for. The house used to belong to his late friend, Issac Izard Kyle MacLachlan , another warlock, and they're certain the clock signals some terrible event that Issac had plotted before his death.

In an effort to impress a popular kid at school, Lewis drags a forbidden magic book off the shelf and accidentally raises Issac from the dead, triggering a supernatural throwdown to save the world. The House with a Clock in its Walls excises most of the ghostly encounters that occur after Lewis raises the dead, including a car pursuit that may be the scariest section in the book, and cuts straight to the hectic confrontation.

The ramp-up of increased effects and Jack Black improvisations spills over into a retina-searing spectacle of flying CGI pumpkins, armies of mechanized dolls, and Mrs. Zimmerman zapping beasties with her purple umbrella laser blaster.

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