When Mo Folchart reads a story, the characters leap off the page. Literally. And that's a problem. Mo must somehow use his special powers to send the interlopers back to the real world...and save ours. If ever a task was easier read than done, this is it. Mo and his daughter Meggie, aided by friends real and fictional, plunge into a thrilling quest that pits them against diabolical villians, fantastic beasts and dangers at every turn.
Despite the failure of turning the Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass series into a box-office franchise, New Line Cinema persists on and took a crack at German writer Cornelia Funke’s Inkhear trilogy hoping it to be their next crown jewel after Lord of the Rings.
Casting the go-to man for family adventures, Brendan Fraser and British young actress Eliza Hope Bennett as Mo and Meggie Folchart. Inkheart is about Mo, a book binder who is blessed with a slivertongue. The stories he read aloud will turn into reality and one such mishap causes his wife, Resa to be sucked into the book and out comes several fictional characters to our world including a nasty villain named Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and a fire-eater, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) in exchange. Years later, Mo and his now 12 year old daughter is still in search of his 'missing' wife for the only way to rescue Resa are to find another copy of that book entitled "Inkheart" and read it aloud.
Somehow with all the magical and fairytale elements present and a cast including English acting thespians Bettany, Helen Mirren as Elinor, the grumpy aunt of Meggie and Jim Broadbent as the writer of "Inkheart", the movie on the whole isn’t terribly exciting. The aspect of seeing flying monkeys, Unicorn and other unworldly creatures is a plus but pity director Iain Softley (The Skeleton Key, K-Pax) fails to understand the essence of the story and remarkably relies heavily on some uneven plotting forgetting the movie is targeted at the younger audience to get the movie going. There are captivating references to familiar fairy tales such as The Wizard of Oz, Hansel & Gretel and Rapunzel though not enough to charm you.
Surprisingly too, "Inkheart" lacks the humor factor which so often found in the Harry Potter movies though it’s getting darker with the instalments coming to an end. It’s utterly grim and adventureless for the whole 106 minutes and the funniest thing you can unearth is the blink-and-miss cameo by Bettany’s real-life wife Jennifer Connelly.
Probably the most commendable thing of Inkheart perhaps is the on-location shoot in Italy. The castle set with wonderful cinematography makes you forget the rather dull storyline. The special effects are mediocre though not really shabby. There’s this continuous theme of emphasis on reading unfortunately with the way "Inkheart" is presented, I doubt younger movie-goers will attempt to pick up the literary version of it soon.
With a production budget of US$60 million, "Inkheart" earned only a measly $57 million worldwide shattering New Line’s dreams and proving once again fairy tales exist only in books.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
For those who hate spoiler, you may choose to avoid Eliza Hope Bennett reading the original ending of Funke’s book which is not featured in the final movie.
The visual transfer is pristine though soft at certain edges. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround works best during the tornado sequence other than that features good ambient effects and clear dialogue.
by Linus Tee
Posted on 31 May 2009