Inkheart has a lot in common with Harry Potter.
It is a fantasy based on the first of a series of books by Cornelia Funke that the studio’s promotional people say are beloved.
I’ve never heard of her — or her book, but I’m light years removed from having little ones in the house. I do, however, pay attention to my surroundings and I haven’t seen kids anywhere reading them.
It’s not important. This is a movie and not a book review.
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A slew of characters with magical powers dot the story’s complex but clever premise. A bookbinder reads out of the book Inkheart. When he does, its characters come to life and whatever action he reads about from the book happens in this world.
His crisis is when he reads from the book and a character from it comes to our world, someone from our world gets transported into the book. Not knowing that when he starts reading the book, a character named Dustfinger changes places with the bookbinder’s wife.
She’s gone. He’s crushed. Dustfinger doesn’t like our world and wants to go home. The bookbinder, not knowing what other damage he can do, refuses to read again.
You learn this later.
The villain came out of the book at the same time as Dustfinger and like all fantasy villains, he’s a megalomaniac and wants to rule the world. All he needs is for the bookbinder to read his beloved demon here.
There’s more but you get the gist.
The concept isn’t bad. It’s even kind of original. Execution is the downfall. Part of that comes from a tepid script and the other is the casting. Brendan Fraser is the bookbinder.
Rumor has it Funke originally wrote the character with him in mind. Considering that neither Fraser or his character, or this movie, have a personality that may be true.
Neither writer David Lindsay-Abaire (“Robots”) or director Iain Softley (“K-Pax, Skeleton Key”) are able to give any kind of energy into this story.
“Inkheart” takes place over a long span of time. Capricorn finds other “silver tongues” like the bookbinder to read characters into this world. None of them possess his skill so their efforts are hit and miss. What you get is a mish-mash of Inkheart’s pages and strange characters from classic fantasy and fairytales. Here’s an example: the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.
Scenes like this scream for laughs that never come.
And it hits the heart of Inkheart’s i>problem. The movie has no personality. It flops from scene to scene and crisis to crisis with no passion, no intensity and—worse—no fun.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Jan. 23 at the Columbia Mall 8.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.