This is a film that I really enjoyed the concept of, but on screen it left me wanting more. The idea that there could be people that anything they read came to life is intriguing. I imagine there would be all kinds of legal and copyright issues if you brought to life all of the things I imagined, the movie does not touch enough of that though.
Inkheart is the story of Mo (Brendan Fraser). He finds that he can bring to life anything that he reads from a book, and one day ends up having his wife (Sienna Guillory) disappear. Turns out she got sucked into one of the books he was reading from called Inkheart and Mo, along with his daughter (Eliza Bennett) and aunt (Helen Mirren) must try to find another copy of the book in order to free his wife. Helping them is another character ripped out of the pages of Inkheart, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany). While they hope to free Mo’s wife, the villain of Inkheart, Capricorn (Andy Serkis), has also been sent to our world and does not want to go back to the world where he always loses. He has found every copy of Inkheart he can and destroyed them to prevent Mo from potentially sending him back inside Inkheart as he tries to save his wife. Mo has one last idea, to go and find the original author of the book (Jim Broadbent) and hope that he has a manuscript hidden on him somewhere. Can Mo find his wife and send Capricorn back where he came from before he is able to destroy our world?
Like I said, I enjoyed the premise of Inkheart, there just felt like there was something missing. There are some cool shout outs to famous books like The Wizard of Oz, but I felt like there should have been more. If I had the power to make anything I read come to life, I would be going to all of my favourites and bringing them out. There is not enough of that here. I understand the copyright issues of having references to all of these books, but I would have preferred to see more of my favourite literary characters being brought to life, rather than focusing so much on Inkheart, a book that nobody can read. Brendan Fraser is fine as the lead, he is charismatic and endearing enough that you care what happens to him and want him to find his wife again. Helen Mirren is also fun as their snarky aunt.
Inkheart is an average film, that does not fully utilise a really interesting premise.
The premise of Inkheart is an interesting one for any avid reader, such as myself. This is the story of a girl and her father, who share a special gift– when they read aloud, the characters come out of the books and into the real world. The movie is based on a book (naturally), and though I’ve never read it I have to wonder: did something get lost in translation from the page to the screen?
It’s not that Inkheart is bad, per se, it just feels like something is missing. The story borrows elements from classic children’s literature (right down to characters, such as the Crocodile from Peter Pan and Toto from The Wizard of Oz), bringing them into the real world with often dangerous results. I don’t mind this mining of public domain stories. It’s charming assembling beloved characters together, and fits the premise of the story well. It also makes me think about which characters I’d read to life if I had this power. (Harry Potter, obviously, but Huckleberry Finn, Peter Rabbit, and some of the creatures from Where the Wild Things Are might be fun.)
Where the problem lies is in the execution of the story. The plot seems muddled, being hard to follow at times and never having a true focus. The book appears to be mostly about the girl, Meggie (Eliza Bennett), and I think if the movie had focused more on her it would have been more concise. As it is, about half the film revolves around Meggie’s father, Mo (Brendan Fraser). This is something that could work in book form, where the author has the luxury of time, but a movie this short needs to be more focused.
Two excellent aspects of Inkheart lie in its acting and special effects. Apparently the book’s author based Mo on Fraser, which doesn’t surprise me. The character just felt like Fraser even before I knew it was indeed written for him. I was also impressed by Bennett, who holds her own against her older and more practiced costars. Helen Mirren also appears as Meggie’s eccentric great-aunt, a role that she is clearly having a lot of fun with. The special effects produced are also great, with the ultimate villain of the movie being particularly well done. The CGI lends a bit of magic to the story, but not quite enough.