Film Review: ‘Inkheart’

January 23rd, 2009 // 2 Comments

Inkheart (D+)
Director: Iain Softley

Playing in the official Harry Potter fingers-crossed family film franchise sweepstakes, Inkheart comes armed with fantastical visual heights, a strong literary theme, and the inexplicable box office appeal of Brendan Fraser. What Inkheart lacks is a cracking pace and a reasonable deconstruction of an intricate plot for the uninitiated, leaving a feature film of determined scope plagued by dismal execution.

Long ago, Mo (Brendan Fraser) discovered he was a Silvertongue, a rare human blessed with the skill to bring literary figures into the world by merely reading books aloud. When an unfortunate occurrence takes his wife (Sienna Guillory) away, Mo and his daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) travel around the world on the hunt for the out-of-print book Inkheart to restore order to their lives. On their trail is Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a fire-juggler from Inkheart who was pulled from the story into the real world long ago and desperately wants back in, taking his worry to villain Capricorn (Andy Serkis, chewing scenery) to guarantee him safe passage. With Capricorn abusing the gifts of the Silvertongues to line his pockets and achieve world domination, it’s up to Mo, Meggie, and feisty Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) to find the book’s author (Jim Broadbent) and fight to save the day.

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Posted By: Brian Orndorf


Inkheart (D+)
Director: Iain Softley

Playing in the official Harry Potter fingers-crossed family film franchise sweepstakes, Inkheart comes
armed with fantastical visual heights, a strong literary theme, and the
inexplicable box office appeal of Brendan Fraser. What Inkheart
lacks is a cracking pace and a reasonable deconstruction of an
intricate plot for the uninitiated, leaving a feature film of
determined scope plagued by dismal execution.

Long ago, Mo (Brendan Fraser) discovered he was a Silvertongue,
a rare human blessed with the skill to bring literary figures into the
world by merely reading books aloud. When an unfortunate occurrence
takes his wife (Sienna Guillory) away, Mo and his daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) travel around the world on the hunt for the out-of-print book Inkheart to restore order to their lives. On their trail is Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a fire-juggler from Inkheart
who was pulled from the story into the real world long ago and
desperately wants back in, taking his worry to villain Capricorn (Andy Serkis,
chewing scenery) to guarantee him safe passage. With Capricorn abusing
the gifts of the Silvertongues to line his pockets and achieve world
domination, it’s up to Mo, Meggie, and feisty Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) to find the book’s author (Jim Broadbent) and fight to save the day.

Inkheart faced an uphill battle on the way to a theatrical
release (enduring numerous delays), and the battle scars are quite
apparent on the final product. An adaptation of Cornelia Funke‘s popular novel, Inkheart
feels as though it has been pulled apart and put back together several
times over, leading to a viewing experience that’s equal parts
bewilderment and tedium. It’s a cluttered feature, with most of its
minimal appeal resting on the shoulders of those who’ve already come
into contact with the source material; educated crowds who won’t feel
dizzy when discussions of Silvertongues and supporting character
backstory are tossed around with little finesse. Inkheart isn’t
impossible to follow, it just feels utterly impenetrable, thanks to
direction from Iain Softley, which lacks any semblance of a proper
blockbuster perspective.

When Softley’s great he’s fantastic (The Wings of the Dove, Hackers), but when he’s bad, it’s embarrassing to watch (K-PAX).
Inkheart falls somewhere near the bottom end of the scale, though it’s
not due to a lack of effort. Packing a wildly ambitious narrative, the
picture spends an inordinate amount of time attempting to explain
itself, working intensely to factor in a plethora of characters and
fantasy origins, while juggling the appearance of literary icons (Toto,
a thief from One Thousand and One Nights, and Unicorns) to keep
in time with the novel’s adventuresome spirit. Softley has some
intriguing storybook-laden production value at his fingertips, but he’s
quickly lost at sea with this material, wrestling to connect scenes and
fully develop subplots in just under 100 minutes. It’s a losing battle.

Some merriment is provided by Broadbent, who pops up in the film’s
second act and appears to be the only actor who honestly grasps the
bizarre tone of the picture. It’s a fun performance, miles ahead of
Fraser’s dour emoting and the overtly serious Bettany, who somehow
talked his spouse Jennifer Connelly into a five-second-long
cameo as Dustfinger’s wife, which the film manages to recycle twice to
squeeze some extra marquee juice out of this baby.

Inkheart distinctly loses steam midway through, and Softley
never achieves a sliver of the magical happenings the opening act
promises. Instead the film becomes a leaden pyrotechnics display of
special effects in the final reel, while also sloppily covering a
set-up for a sequel with an ending that’s pat and hardly propulsive; a
mangled bout of reshooting that ends the film as it began: naggingly
incomplete.Posted By: Brian Orndorf

By Socialite Life Staff
asl

  1. timul

    I’m not only the Hair Club president, I’m also a client.

  2. Exotic Goddess

    Brandon’s extremely versatile. He could have a successful franchise here or, if not, something better will come along.

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