Rated PG for fantasy adventure action, some scary moments and brief language, 106 minutes
"Inkheart" filled with energy, lively moments
I will say straight up that I'm not a Brendan Fraser fan, just don't see his appeal. I still must quote my friend Joyce who couldn't quite get into the "The Mummy 3" last summer because Fraser looked like, well, a dork, and I have to say I agreed with her (that was in addition to the many other reasons why I hated "Mummy 3").
Fraser's dorky qualities aside, his new fantasy action-adventure film "Inkheart" is an energetic, fun and even enjoyable escape that I found far more appealing and engaging that I originally thought I would. The storyline feels rushed and uneven at times, but the great cast makes it an entertaining time, enjoyable time, especially if you have older kids or younger teens.
"Inkheart" tells the adventure of Mo "Silvertongue" Folchart (Fraser) and his young daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett). He is named "Silvertongue" because he has a unique ability to bring characters to life from the books he reads. He's unleashed a host of characters, some good - including the fire-eating Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) and the very evil Capricorn (Andy Serkis).
Along for the ride is great-aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren), who'll help reunite them with Meggie's mother and Mo's wife Resa (Sienna Guillory), who has been captured by Capricorn. Mo, Meggie, Dustfinger and Elinor must all work together to relinquish evil from Capricorn once and for all, but not without facing the Shadow, another evil creature who could destroy them in an instant.
Loosely based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Cornelia Funke, it opens up the book considerably but changes quite a bit of the story in the process. Some it feels rushed and uneven as director Iain Softley ("The Skeleton Key") and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire ("Robots") strive to summarize many of the plot details. Some are cleverly handled (literally dropping in items from other famous novels) while others are a little fuzzy (how do some of the characters get out, exactly?).
Yet there's enough action and energetic, fun (though sometimes dark) moments to keep "Inkheart's" story rolling along through some uneven moments, and it helps that the film has a winning, talented cast. Young British actress Bennett is an altogether engaging Meggie, screen veteran Mirren gets some of the best lines and Serkis (otherwise known as Gollum from those "Lord of the Rings" films) chews on the scenery. Yet, it's Bettany, another Brit, who makes for a beguiling and sad Dustfinger, who longs to go back to the pages from whence he came. Surprisingly (and maybe good for me) that Fraser has little to do, given that the premise revolves around his character.
"Inkheart's" climax is especially busy, intense and a little confusing when you think about it, but still memorable. The climax has been updated considerably (at least according to a reliable source who read the book) for a happier ending, which may displease fans of the book. "Inkheart" is a solidly entertaining fantasy action-adventure suitable for the whole family.