with this interesting fantasy film at the Budget Cinema and were glad to
have made the effort.
Based upon Cornelia Funke's novel, the movie deals with a man (action
hero Brendan Fraser) who calamitously discovers he has the power to
"read out" characters and things from novels, making them real in this
world, and to read people back IN to the book as well. In the first
manifestation of this power, Mo (Fraser) accidentally sets loose the
malevolent thug Capricorn (Andy Serkis), some of his henchmen, and the
hapless "fire juggler" Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), and looses his wife
Resa (Sienna Guillory) to the book world. Mo then spends twelve years
hiding out from Capricorn and trying to recover a copy of the rare book
he came from, "Inkheart", in order to rescue his wife.
Meanwhile, Dustfinger, who also has a wife (and children, and a home he
wants to get back to) is hunting Mo in order to get Mo to read him back
into the book. Dustfinger isn't a BAD guy, but he's willing to sell out
Mo and his daughter Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) to the treacherous
Capricorn in order to get what he wants--.
The movie is not without its flaws, some of which stem from the novel.
It takes a man well connected with the book industry (he's a
binder/restorer of old books) twelve years to find another copy of a
recently published book? What, he's never heard of Amazon or
Bookfinders? Alibris? And why didn't anyone think of the blindingly
obvious strategy the thirteen-year-old girl eventually comes up with,
earlier? Why is Capricorn a good name for a villain from an alternate
reality, and Dustfinger a name for a fire magician (a necromancer, I
Given that, however, the players do very well with what they are given.
Besides the above, the movie sports a stellar cast, featuring Helen
Mirren as Meggie's reclusive and cranky great-aunt, and the
ever-reliable Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio, the "author" of "Inkheart."
Serkis is chilling as the smiling, murderous Capricorn, and bids fair to
be growing into some serious villain roles (currently appearing on PBS'
"Masterpiece" as the assassin Rigaud, in Dickens's "Little Dorrit", for
It's not a bad story at all, with lots of good humor as the supporting
characters rally round in their eccentric ways to help rescue Mo and
Meggie. A pity it doesn't quite live up to potential. For example, the
revealed origin of Capricorn's monstrous minion, "The Shadow," has the
potential to be truly horrifying, but the special effects when it
finally appears are merely OK.
We found the film very enjoyable, and thought it a pity that it
evidently didn't do well at the box office. Perhaps too "litr'ry" a
concept? After all, it's all about the power of the WRITTEN word--.
Safe and enjoyable for older children--scary violence and intense story
elements, but no blood, profanity or sex.