Thursday, January 22, 2009

INKHEART: Not Much Heart, Really

INKHEART (fantasy adventure)
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Guillory, Andy Serkis, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren and Eliza Hope Bennett

Director: Iain Softley

Time: 132 mins

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Mirren, Fraser and Bennett in 'INKHEART'

PREAMBLE: Based on the bestseller by Cornelia Funke, 'Inkheart' is a 'high concept' flick with lots of CGI wonders (mostly of legendary beasts) but very little heart. In other words, it does not make us root for any of the characters - and the action would probably thrill the younger children.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? 'Inkheart' is the first part of a fantasy trilogy on the adventures of 'book doctor' Mortimer 'Mo' Folchart (Brendan Fraser) and his 12-year-old daughter, Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett). Mo is a 'Silvertongue', a person with the rare ability to bring the characters in a book to life simply by reading the text aloud..

This 'gift' has turned out to be a curse as he it has caused him to lose his wife. However, the arrival of 'Dustfinger' (Paul Bettany) into Mo and Meggie's lives sets them off on a fantastic adventure in Italy that also involves Mo's Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) and a megalomaniac named Capricorn (Andy Serkis), a character brought out from a book who now wants to rule the real world.

HITS AND MISSES: As far as the storyline is concerned, 'Inkheart' has enough going for it (and in it) to sustain our interest, especially that of impressionable kids. Bennett offers a fresh face to the movie and she will be well-liked by the youngsters in the audience. Another young hero is Rafi Gavron (as Farid) who provides the romantic interest for Meggie. Other big names in the cast (like Jim Broadbent as the writer of a novel) offer little to the movie except their names and British accent.

However, with many characters running around the scenic Italian locations while the screenplay struggles to establish the rules of its fantasy premise, 'Inkheart' is a bit of a mess to contemplate. Examples are text stains on the skin of characters imperfectly summoned by a stuttering silvertongue (which makes no sense), and a Rapunzel summoned to the real world more for her 'celebrity' status than anything else.

THE LOWDOWN: A forgettable flick with lots of 'Ink' but not much 'heart'.


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