Plot: Mo Folchart (Fraser) possesses a secret ability to bring characters from books to life when he reads them aloud. But when Mo accidentally brings a power-hungry villain from a rare children's fable (Serkis) to life, the villain kidnaps Mo's daughter, Meggie (Bennett), and demands Mo bring other evil fictional characters to life. In an attempt to rescue his daughter, Mo assembles a disparate group of friends - both real and magic - and embarks on a journey to save her and set things right.
Reviewed707 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 32s)
- ...a decent adaptation of the book that succeeds thanks to the performances of supporting actors Paul Bettany and Helen Mirren rather than star Brendan Fraser.
In the course of our jobs, Heather and I have an opportunity to listen to a lot of books on CD. As we haven’t gotten around to visiting a local library recently, we’ve been relying on the generosity of others to loan us some of their books to listen to. I find some I never would have read otherwise, and the good ones help the day to fly by.
One such book was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Having been a childhood fave of one of my co-workers, she had taken it out of the library to reacquaint herself with the story. She offered it to me to listen to, thinking I would enjoy it as well. While I wasn’t too impressed with the previous Cornelia Funke book I had listened to, The Thief Lord, I figured I’d give the author another shot…and was immediately captivated by the world of magic and villainy the book introduced me to.
So, when I heard that an adaptation was hitting theaters, I definitely wanted to check it out…but paused before seeing it in theaters. After recently having another fave book trashed in a movie adaptations (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)), I was worried the same fate would befall this new fave of mine. Now that Inkheart has arrived on DVD, however, I couldn’t resist finding out if the film did the book justice.
Brendan Fraser is not one of the site’s favorite actors. While he has managed to come through on occasion (The Mummy (1999), Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)), the painful memories of films like Encino Man still give nightmares.
Thankfully, he’s not too bad in Inkheart. While he doesn’t seem like he would have been the first choice to portray Mo, he does so with decency, evoking a bit of the character from the novel. True, he isn’t quite on a par with some of the other actors in the film, but he at least seems to be trying.
Paul Bettany, as is usual for any movie he appears in (A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind (2001)) is phenomenal. His portrayal of Dustfinger is very near to perfection. The viewer will easily connect him to the character in the book, as he seems to have very nearly leapt off the page and into the film. True, there are flaws in character that are more pronounced in the film (cowardice, for one), but it’s still a treat to watch this character come to vibrant life in the hands of Paul Bettany.
While Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent and Eliza Hope Bennett also manage to translate their character to the big screen with varying amounts of success, the villains of the pic aren’t so lucky. Andy Serkis’ Capricorn is nearly unrecognizable, and the rest of the villains – from Jamie Foreman’s Basta to Lesley Sharp’s Motola – are similar to their book characters in name only. It’s a bit disappointing, as the book heavily relied on these villains to keep the tension high, but the film doesn’t use these characters to the same extent either, so it’s not as big of a disappointment as one might originally expect.
Unlike the previously mentioned The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007), Inkheart does a good job of condensing the book onto the screen without losing most of the story in the process. It is a bit stilted and too family-oriented at times, but it manages to bring across the salient info from the book all the same.
Apparently, the filmmakers aren’t looking to follow the course of the book (which spawned two sequels, Inkspell and Inkdeath) and instead wrap the film in a nice and neat package at the end, changing the story to the point where they very nearly cancel out any thoughts of a sequel. This seems a bit surprising, since Hollywood seems to be all about sequels, but it does draw a satisfying close to the film. And, since the 2nd book in the series, Inkspell, was actually rather dreary, it’s not really a big loss.
Thanks to outstanding performances by Paul Bettany and Helen Mirren, Inkheart succeeds as a successful adaptation despite it’s flaws – and Brendan Fraser. While those who haven’t read the book may find themselves not as enthralled by the storyline, fans of the book should appreciate this adaptation.