Monday, April 29, 2013

Movie Review: Inkheart

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Acting, effects, and cinematography
Cons: Story pacing; weak climax
The Bottom Line:
Good acting, effects
But story wasn't as good
As I expected

"Toto, You Aren't in Kansas Anymore."

I've been hearing about the Inkheart trilogy for a while now.  I've been curious, but haven't managed to pick up the first book.  So when I heard the first story was being turned into a movie, I knew I had to go see it.  From the previews, I had expected to enjoy it.  While I was entertained, I also found myself a bit let down by the film.

Mortimer "Mo" Folchart (Brendan Fraser) makes his living as a repairer of old books.  He and his daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) travel all over Europe stopping in antiquated bookshops.  And in each one, Mo searches the entire collection for one book in particular, Inkheart.

Mo finally finds a copy, but just after he does, he is confronted by Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), one of the characters from the novel.  Mo manages to run away, and he and Meggie flee to great aunt Elinor's (Helen Mirren) in Italy.  But they aren't safe there.  Dustfinger appears again, says he is working with Capricorn (Andy Serkis) now, and kidnaps the three of them.

Only when the group reaches Capricorn's castle does Mo explain what is happening.  Seems he is a Silvertongue and has the ability to read characters into and out of books.  Dustfinger and Capricorn are characters in Inkheart, but Mo wants to find a copy for a very personal reason.  What do the characters want?  Can Mo and his family escape?

The idea of characters traveling into and out of stories seemed like a great premise to this reader.  There are quite a few characters I would love to be able to meet.  And this movie had enough references to other novels to make me smile.  I think my first problem with the movie was that I expected more of those references.  Instead, most of them were cameos as we focused on the characters from Inkheart.

The pacing just seemed off for the entire film.  I guess I was expecting a more action packed film.  There were several action scenes, but there were also long passages between them where the story moved forward at a much slower rater.

Having said that, the scenes that do involve action could potentially scare young kids.  There are several frightening creatures, and the climax itself is very intense.  Parents will want to know what their kids can handle and maybe even preview it before they let them watch.

The climax was another disappointment.  I'm not going to give anything away, but I will say it made everything too easy.

While the story had issues, the rest of the movie was certainly fine.  The book's author actually created Mo with Brendan Fraser in mind, and he certainly does a good job.  Helen Mirren is fun as Aunt Elinor.  Paul Bettany is the standout as Dustfinger, a man who seems determined to get what he wants no matter the cost.  And Eliza Bennett holds her own quite well with her cast mates.

The special effects are also spectacular.  My mouth was open several times, and I believed every image I saw.

Finally, there's the cinematography.  Normally, I don't comment on that, but here it was amazing.  There are breathtaking beach and lake scenes.  Most of the action centers around a castle and village, and the detail in them is amazing as well.

So, did Inkheart convince me to read the trilogy?  No, but it didn't turn me off to the idea either.  If you are interested, you can probably wait for the DVD release.  But if you skip it, you haven't missed much either.

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