Inkheart Movie Review
There are actors like Gary Oldman who can immerse themselves in just about any role no matter how different and pull it off, and then there is Brendan Fraser, a lovable, enjoyable hero who most audiences only accept in one very niche but lucrative genre: the fantasy adventure.
Fraser's latest film Inkheart failed to make a dent at the box office due to a series of contributing factors, including terrible marketing, a lame release date and the fact that Adam Sandler had released a similarly themed movie called Bedtime Stories just a few months earlier. This is unfortunate, because Inkheart is a surprisingly imaginative and entertaining action-adventure story that suffers most from being indecisive as to whether it wants to be a serious (but still outlandish) thriller or a kid's story. That's where marketing tripped up, too, as they tried to target Inkheart toward the kiddies, when in fact the movie is much more suited for adults.
Inkheart is about a teenage girl (Sienna Guillory) who discovers one day that her father (Fraser) has been hiding a dark secret regarding her long lost mother: he has the uncontrollable ability to bring anything that he reads aloud to life, no matter how scary or unreal, and it's that ability that vanquished her mother into an otherworld with no hope of return. One day, though, the bad guys that he unleashed from his story all those years ago return to bring their destiny to fruition, and it's up to them to figure out how to stop evil from taking over the world - and to save her mother from eternal exile.
Directed by Iain Softley (The Skeleton Key, K-PAX), Inkheart is indeed one of this year's surprises. All expectations were that it'd be terrible, but Inkheart is like The Mummy meets Bedtime Stories, only not quite as good as either of those films. The movie has a great cast, which also includes Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren and Andy Serkis, and a well-imagined story, based on the novel by Cornelia Funke. The special effects are pretty good, and there's enough action and suspense to satisfy any age.
The movie's weakness, as mentioned before, is that it's trying to be a kid's movie when it has plot points that are more in turn with The Lord of the Rings (Serkis, by the way, played Gollum in those box office disasters). Yes, Toto from The Wizard of Oz makes an appearance, but there are some pretty frightening monsters to deal with and some other plot elements that are more suited for adults than children. Unlike The Mummy, the movie isn't particularly funny; it seems content with taking things seriously for the most part. Still, it feels as though the filmmakers held back just a little in hopes that the movie would indeed cater to younger audiences, and that's a problem. The end result is an entertaining surprise, but not one that's good enough to watch over and over again.
Like so many others, Inkheart will vanish into the bargain bins before long. It's a shame, because the movie has a lot going for it. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.