Posted January 21, 2009 in Film

In the world of Inkheart, characters in fantasy books spring to life when read aloud by “silvertongues”—those with the gift and curse of spinning imagination into actuality. Which is a lot like making a fantasy film itself, especially as this and nearly all the others are inspired by best-selling novels, and watching them feels like getting ripped out of your own version of a world to be shoved into someone else’s. And while silver-tongued Mo (Brendan Fraser) and Iain Softley’s children’s flick can take pride in some of the things they’ve made, we leave convinced that words are better left squat, inert, and black on the page. Nine years ago, Mo read a book called Inkheart to his three-year-old daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) and British wife (Sienna Guillory), which ripped apart his family and sent him and Meg on the road attempting to dodge both the no-longer-fictional villains and the English accent the girl couldn’t avoid even when home schooled across Europe by her Yankee dad. Now twelve, Meggie finally learns the truth about her father’s gift when the literary baddies—all of whom have the fantastical touch of having words, backwards and forwards, scrawled across their faces like cowls from their typeset birth—kidnap them, Inkheart author Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent, adding humor), and wacky great-aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren, adding class) to force Mo to read them passages of wealth and violence. If I was still a bookworm preteen, I would like Softley’s film fine—though I’d likely feel condescended by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire’s additions of Rapunzel, Prince Charming, and Toto and be restless to climb back inside Cornelia Funke’s novel, where I could dream up a world just as great for a decimal of the cost. (Amy Nicholson)



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