Inkheart Directed by: Iain Softley Cast: Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG
Plot:Mo Folchart (Fraser) is a "silvertongue" - someone who can bring the words of books to life by reading them out loud. Ten years ago, he lost his wife when he read from fantasy novel Inkheart, and is now trying to retrieve her with the help of his daughter (Bennett) and various characters from the book. An adaptation of the book of the same title written by Cornelia Funke.
Who’s It For? Anyone in the higher grades of elementary school - readers or not. Every kid of around that age is likely to catch some type of reading bug from Inkheart. However, with adults - not so much. They'll probably wonder why Brendan Fraser doesn't just read from a Donald Trump book instead.
Expectations: Could a big cast save what looks like another Saturday morning fluffy fantasy movie? Also, is this going to have dragons in it?
Actors: Brendan Fraser as Mo Folchart: Fraser is more likable here than he was in the entire Mummy trilogy. Here, he doesn't try to prove something he's not (an action hero). However, Inkheart continues the strange tradition from the aforementioned trilogy that, while being American, his character has both an English wife and child. Score: 6
Eliza Bennett as Meggie: As Mo's daughter, she does a credible job that is not unbearably sweet despite its sugary requirements. Though important to the film's ending, she's a bit of a side-character. Still, Bennett doesn't hurt Inkheart's enjoyability, but the script that tosses her around does. Score: 6
Helen Mirren as Elinor Loredan: Similar to her character in National Treasure 2, this is another breezier but still fun performance by the QueenOscar winner. As the distant relative of the Folcharts, Elinor is an amusing comic relief that stands as the film's biggest advocate for reading. Score: 5
Andy Serkis as Capricorn: Yes, this is Mr. Lord of the Rings (my precious) ... Serkis plays the maniacal villain of the book with more goof than menace, a trait shared with his henchmen (who have writing on their faces). Regardless, we don't get to see Serkis in the flesh too often, so that in itself is a treat. It turns out he's quite charismatic, without the dress-up of CGI and the strange voices. Score: 7
Others: Paul Bettany does an impressive job of not creeping us out with his mysterious character, Dustfinger. Jennifer Connelly has a cameo of his wife which is nothing but strange casting. Rafi Gavron, who plays Farid from Arabian Nights, looks like Selma Hayek...as a dude. Jim Broadbent is very funny as the author of the title book. He's too delighted to see his own vision come to life to care that it just may kill him. Score: 5
Talking:The overall dialogue is nothing for the books, but some of it is definitely for a poster. "Books are an adventure!" and "[books] love anyone who opens them" only need the face of Zac Efron or anyone in New Moon to help skyrocket the number of young readers. Score: 6
Sights: There are some surprisingly nice location shots of the expansive Italian countryside. Also, Inkheart enjoys referencing elements from literature classics, but also likes to do so in the most obvious way. Parents should know that while the villains do carry guns and cross bows, they are never actually fired - the violence is bit more fantastical, though a bit on the heavier side of a PG rating. Score: 6
Sounds: Eliza Bennett sings the song that starts at the end credits. Though with a different message, it's like all of Inkheart - a bit corny, but an inspiration for healthy ideas. Besides, the irony of modern pop ballads accompanying films that flirt with different eras in time is slowly vanishing, so it only makes sense. Score: 5
Best Scene: A brief moment where evil Capricorn has gathered a "greatest hits" of literature in his castle, featuring things like the glass slippers in Cinderella.
Ending: Obviously hunky-dory, but accurate to the film's ideas of fantasy.
Questions:Could this potentially help discourage younger ones from reading out loud? Since Cornelia Funke got her book adapted, does this provide hope for someday seeing Tobias' The Man Inside Me on the big screen?
Rewatchability:The film's obvious audience of younger viewers may want to experience it a few times on DVD. Who knows, they might find it as sacred as Macaulay Culkin's The Pagemaster is to me.
A packed cast, respectable production value, and a good spirit take Inkheart above a star-studded episode of "Wishbone." However, Inkheart fails to tell the story of the actual book that is the source of such chaos. Because of this, everything seems to be an eager melange of fantasy characters and scenarios, both completely new and some rusty old (Wizard of Oz). The fun of Inkheart can lean towards overly cutesy, but the film hopes its target audience will embrace this in the same way that they'll skip over its giant plot holes.
Inkheart champions the imagination of both the writer and the reader. But it has a strange message that reading out loud is dangerous, because it can possibly bring the evils out of the pages and into the real world. Doing so might just ruin your family or possibly end the world. In short, libraries will love this movie.
Final Score: 6/10