There have been so many movies based on fantasy books made in the last five to ten years that I can barely keep track of them. It’s getting to the point where a year doesn’t go by without at least one (if not several) movies based on a book that takes place in “another world” where magic exists and monsters lurk in the shadows. Fantasy movies and vampire movies seem like Hollywood’s favorite cash cow at the moment. “Ink heart” is one of those fantasy movies that came and went for me in theaters and I missed completely. Now watching it on DVD, I feel like it serves its purpose and is an entertaining film, although it adds very little to a genre that is quickly becoming as dusty as the books they are based on. More after the jump:
“Inkheart” is about a young father named Mo who is a Silvertongue, whatever he reads on the page comes to life in the real world. The only problem is that something from our world has to replace whatever fictional thing has come through. When Mo and his wife Resa were reading to their daughter Meggie years ago, Mo unleashed an evil warlord by the name of Capricorn along with hordes of baddies and a fire-wielding cowardly hero Dustfinger. When all these fictional characters came out of the book, Mo’s wife Resa went in. Ever since then he has scoured every bookstore he can find to get a copy of “Inkheart” and read her back out. When he finally does, it brings back Dustfinger who just wants to go home and of course Capricorn and his minions who want to use Mo’s powers for evil and have limitless power in the Earth realm. Adventure ensues with Mo’s Aunt tagging along (played by Helen Mirren); they pick up the author of Inkheart for help, a goofy shut-in played by Jim Broadbent. In the end evil is defeated and everyone lives happily ever after… like they always do in these movies.
This film is a harmless family film that has a decent amount of clever moments and a great cast. I really liked the combination of books and mythical creatures; the flying monkeys for “Oz,” a minotaur, the wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood,” a unicorn… to name a few. Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, and Jim Broadbent are always fun to watch for me, they bring a gravitas and epic feel to even the silliest roles they play. They have respect for their work and a great sense of fun and it shows in this film. Brendan Fraser does the usual good job as the leading family man in a family film. He’s never really bothered me or amazed me. I’m always left thinking “he served his purpose in that movie, so good job.” He’s almost like the Will Smith of family movies and adventure films with Mummies. Andy Serkis plays a good bad guy and chews the scenery a tad in a fun way that fits the tone of the film. The cast seems to be a bit better than the material they are working with, but nothing stands out as being really bad, just kind of a simple “been there done that, but now it’s got a slight twist” fantasy film.
Some of the action set pieces are pretty cool; I just wish there were more of them and that they built to a bigger showdown climax. It feels like right when things are going to go down, a quick resolution is reached. I like a little more conflict and battles if I’m going to watch a film of this genre. There is a really great sequence where in order to escape Capricorn’s castle Mo reads the “Wizard of Oz” aloud and a tornado comes tearing through and the end when “The Shadow” appears to do Capricorn’s bidding the CGI looks really cool.
To sum up, “Inkheart” is a simple family fantasy film that is fun to watch, but not something to go run out and tell the neighbors they have to see it. If you have kids, it won’t be one of those where you have to blush at the adult humor and you won’t be bored to tears or feel like you’re being talked down to. “Inkheart” does a good job of telling a simple story and adding some fun new elements to the genre, just not enough to make it a must-see epic fantasy classic.
Eliza Reads to Us: Co-star Eliza Bennett reads her favorite part of the real book “Inkheart” that wasn’t in the film with animations to go with it.
And that’s it??? Couldn’t there be a making-of or something? Oh… wait I’ll bet that’s only if you buy the two-disc edition of course. I’m starting to get really annoyed with the fact that ever DVD comes out with a crappy bare bones edition and then an uber-expensive 2-disc version. Cut your customers some slack and just bring out one version that does the film justice and doesn’t break the bank. I don’t know if there is a 2-disc version of “Inkheart,” but if there is that’s pretty lame.