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Inkheart

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Every Story Ever Written is Waiting to Become Real. INKHEART.

Apr 27, 2009 (Updated Apr 27, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, story with lots of potential.

Cons:Unfocused direction weighed it down.

The Bottom Line: A near miss.  It could have been great; as it is, its fun.


Inkheart (2009) Directed by Iain Softley, from the novel by Cornelia Funke.

"Since the dawn of time, storytellers have enchanted audiences with their words. But there is an even rarer gift. There are those, who by reading out loud, can bring characters to life. Out of books and into our world. Most of these Silvertongues, as they are known prefer to keep their skills a secret but some do not even know this gift is theirs, until it is too late."

Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser) is such a storyteller.  This is a well kept secret from his daughter, Maggie (Eliza Bennett), but like most intelligent children, she sees more than her parents would like.  She knows her father is on a quest for a particular book.  She just does not know why.

But when he locates a rare copy of Inkheart in a rare books store, his daughter meets up with Gwin and Dustfinger (a ferret with tiny horns and Paul Bettany) who seem to know her, her father, and the fact that he found the book.  He warns them in vague terms, understood by Mo, cryptic to Maggie, about someone called Capricorn who is hunting them.  Mo flees this fire juggling madman, and with Maggie, escape, at least for a while.

The seek sanctuary at Aunt Eleanor's,(Helen Mirren) a bibliophile after my own heart, but are in short order captured by strange men with writing upon their faces.  Dustfinger betrayed them, because Mo refused to read him back into the book.

It seems that Mo's gift read the villain of book, Capricorn (Andy Serkis), and Dustfinger out of the book, but also trapped Resa (Sienna Guillory) his wife in the book.  Capricorn took the copy, and now it all becomes clear what Mo has been doing the last nine years; looking for a copy to read her out again.

Capricorn has been busy the last decade or so as well, amassing wealth, building his castle, and populating it with his henchmen from Inkheart.  Alas, his silvertongue reader Darius (John Thomson) has a problem; he stutters!  This causes problems; his creations are flawed, with print upon their bodies; the Minotaur is an invalid, and the scullery maid left her voice in the book.

But now that he has a fluent silvertongue, Capricorn has big plans.  The first passage he forces Mo to read nets him a portion of the forty thieves treasure.  It also trades one of his henchmen for Farid, (Rafi Gavron) the hero of the story.  Then Dustfinger demands that he be read back into the book.  This is why you should never trust monomaniacal madmen...Capricorn does not want to go back; he wants to bring the great evil of the book, the Shadow, into our world to use as a weapon.  Can Mo stop him, save his daughter and win back his wife? 

The Analysis.

This is a magical and enchanting tale, full of action, adventure, and excellent performances by great actors....so why did I not absolutely love it?  The good is very very good; the author actually admitted she wrote the novel with the thought of Brendan Fraser playing the lead.  And if Brendan could make Journey to the Center of the Earth (or at least his performance in it) palatable, then I think that proves his acting ability.  If that is not enough, call to mind God's and Monsters.  Brendan is at his sexy best when playing the family man thrust into an action role; witness The Mummy Returns.  So the problem is not Brendan.

Almost as good (and sexy) is Paul Bettany as the pyromantic Dustfinger. Complex, conflicted, a traitor for the best and worst of reasons, his character and performance are compelling.  Nor can I fault Helen Mirren, (who could?) Eliza Bennett or Rafi Gavron.  Now the real villains were one dimensional, two at the most, but considering they were fantasy villains, is that out of character?

So where is the lack?  Oddly, I think it is in direction...surprising from the man who managed the imminently moody Skeleton Key, I think he failed to hold the story.  I noticed the colours were subdued, except for the use of red as an accent.  But while this trick might work for M. Night Shyamalan, here, it just looks dull, and worse, dull with an effort to jazz it back up.

But this story has unicorns, and Minotaurs, and the crocodile from Peter Pan, and flying monkeys.  Flying monkeys mind you!  And it's central theme is an awesome and envious magical power, the power to make the printed word real.  But how did the silvertongues use this power?  Incredibly sparingly.  A copy of the Wizard of Oz summons a storm for their escape. The rest of the time, it is Dustfinger's fire tricks, and Farid's thieving skills that see them through.  Heck, give me a silvertongue, and a King James Bible, and I will show those sinners what smiting is all about!  I suspect some of the monsters were under utilized for budgetary reasons.  With all Sci Fi and Fantasy movies, you never get out any more than you are willing to put into the FX budget.  Spend the money, or go home.

All in all, I expected to love this movie, wanted to love this movie, but in the end, we are just friends....


Recommend this product? Yes


Movie Mood: Good for Kids
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Duration

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