Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

LOST IN A BOOK

 

picture - InkheartMovie Review

by Kevin Bowen

published January 30, 2009

 

Inkheart

rated PG

now playing nationwide

 

In Inkheart, Brendan Fraser loses his wife in a bizarre book-reading accident.

 

As a professional bookbinder, the silver screen’s newest big-time child-herder is a “silver tongue” – a person who can literally bring a story to life simply by reading out loud. He releases a cast of knife-wielding meanies from the pages of an adventure book called Inkheart. But it isn’t a free lunch. His wife gets sucked into the book. That leaves him to wander the earth in search of another copy.   

 

Even without a mother, he raises his daughter Maggie so well that she turns out English. They move around in pursuit of a rare copy of Inkheart. When he finally finds one in a European bookstore, one of the released characters, a rogue (Paul Bettany), finds him. Armed henchmen aren’t far behind. A Volkswagen bus is not an ideal getaway car.  

 

Soon they’re lost in a book, trapped in a fairy-tale castle on top of a mountain so remote that even the tax assessors seem to have missed it. It’s the hideout for Capricorn (Andy Serkis), the novel’s Bwahaha-ing evil bad guy. So with a minotaur, The Wizard of Oz’s flying monkeys, and Peter Pan’s ticking crocodile, they await their execution in an underground dungeon. Where’s a good copy of Slaughterhouse-Five when you need it?

 

Helen Mirren plays a book-collecting aunt. Jennifer Connelly does a dialogue-free cameo as a faraway maiden. Is this an awkwardly placed paragraph? Well, it’s awkwardly placed casting.

 

A good concept? I would say yes. Director Iain Softley’s fairy tale does best when it jokes with its concept, bringing Toto to life, for instance, with a signature one-liner about being in Kansas . Unlike other recent Harry-Potter-alikes, the story, based on the children’s books of Cornelia Funke, has a certain post-modern metafictional touch that I find appealing. Yet as film, it never really leaps off the page. For a film about stories being lifted from the page, the film seems like it would feel more comfortable being right back on the page rather than the big screen. 

 

kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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