Friday, July 6, 2012

Inkheart Movie Review

There are several movies that glorify the power of reading. Some of these movies do a good job of praising books and the power of reading. I think that is what Iain Softley was trying to achieve in the 2008 movie, Inkheart, but it didn’t really make me want to race off to the library once it was over.
Mortimer “Mo” Folchart (Brendan Fraser) discovers he has a rare ability to liberate fictional characters into the real world when he reads books aloud. He discovers this power as he reads to his young family one evening. The catch to this ability is that people from the real world become trapped in the book in place of missing characters. When he accidently freed the villain named Capricorn (Andy Serkis) from a fantasy book entitled “Inkheart,” Mo’s wife became trapped in the book. Twelve years later, Mo travels around with his daughter, Meggie (Eliza Bennett), still searching for another copy of Inkheart so that he can read his wife out again. Meanwhile, Capricorn has become a powerful figure in the real world. Knowing Mo’s ability, Capricorn has one of his henchmen, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), hunting down Mo. Capricorn seeks to take over the real world by letting loose an evil entity called The Shadow, and needs Mo to release it from the book.
As a bibliophile, I appreciate movies and stories that celebrate reading and the power of books. All of the characters in Inkheart have a profound love and respect for books. One of my favorite scenes has Mo browsing the shelves of a used bookstore looking for a copy of Inkheart and hears faint chatter of fictional characters calling to him. This is just about the only moment in the movie that really makes books seem magical. The ideas of reality and fiction have already been explored better elsewhere. The Neverending Story comes to mind. Inkheart starts off well, but quickly degenerates into a basic good guy versus bad guy story with little to set it apart from other movies of its kind.
The biggest problem with Inkheart was that it was confusing. Do all copies of a book change when a character is removed from it? Probably so; Mo is looking for another copy of Inkheart to free his wife. Does a story change drastically if its major characters are missing? Can the same character be “read out” from different parts of a book? It’s hard to say since this isn’t developed in the movie, and there never seems to be consequences for taking a character from a book. Granted, this is a movie targeted towards children who probably wouldn’t grasp such consequences, but that’s not an excuse for sloppy writing.
Brendan Fraser acts very subdued and bored in this role. Andy Serkis is a better actor than the character he portrays here deserves. Yet Paul Bettany does an amazing job! His portrayal of Dustfinger is full of complex subtleties that bring the character to life. You really get a feel for this character and his motives. Dustfinger doesn’t want to keep working for Capricorn, and simply wants to get Mo to return him to his book so he can be with his beloved wife again. We’re not quite sure where his loyalties lie as it seems to change depending on the situation as he tries to advance his personal quest to return to his family. It’s also the only Paul Bettany film I’ve seen to date where he isn’t butt naked on camera.
Inkheart is creative, but seems to lack heart. In one scene, Mo and company are attempting to flee Capricorn’s castle and conjures up the twister from The Wizard of Oz by reading a passage. There’s a chase scene amidst strong winds and debris which concludes when Dorothy’s house lands in the road, blocking the bad guys. It was kind of a neat scene, but doesn’t feel meaningful. Conjuring a twister wasn’t necessary; any kind of distraction would have sufficed. It’s as if the next step in the story simply required that “they escape,” and the twister acted as nothing more than a convoluted, contrived, and convenient means of doing so that allowed them to showcase some special effects.
Inkheart wasn’t that great. It was fun if you don’t try to follow the story, and therefore a perfect movie to watch with young kids. It does a pretty poor job of convincing viewers to pick up a book and read, though you may want to do so anyway to figure out what was happening in the movie. In the end, Inkheart is an “okay” family film, but probably not worth owning a copy of unless your kids somehow fall head over heels in love with it.

If you could bring any character out of a book, who would it be and why? Comment below and let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment