(out of 5)
It seems that there are people among us who possess a special power we don’t know about: their reading books out loud makes the characters on the pages come to life. Years after Brendan Fraser paid the price for this power without realizing he had it, his daughter is growing into a teenager and has no idea why her mother abandoned her, while he spends his days looking for a particular book at every antique bookstore in Europe. He is questioned one day by a mysterious stranger (Paul Bettany) whom Fraser avoids dealing with, until things get worse when Bettany comes back with a group of brigands. As it turns out, these villainous men are characters from the book Inkheart, who were drawn out of its pages at the same time that Fraser’s wife went in, and they want more from him. Fraser, his daughter, and his book-loving drama queen aunt (Helen Mirren scene-chewing with her usual expediency) are taken to the castle of a powerful lord from the same book (Andy Serkis) who demands that Fraser read riches and monsters out of books that he can use to wreak havoc on planet Earth. A heavily enjoyable plotline is left to fizzle by uninspired direction (by the usually more reliable Iain Softley) in this fantasy film that is satisfactory but hardly notable. Children will enjoy the fantastical aspects of the plot, and hopefully will be inspired to read more books, but grownups won’t be taking a trip back to their youthful fancy; a heavy reliance on intertextuality from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard Of Oz only emphasizes the comparatively heavy-handed proceedings here. It’s an average adventure with an overly convenient ending that doesn’t really wash, but at least the actors are having a good time and show it. Also features the marvelous Jim Broadbent as the author of the book that causes all the trouble in the first place.
Directed by Iain Softley
Cinematography by Roger Pratt
Music by Javier Navarette
Production Design by John Beard
Costume Design by Verity Hawkes
Film Editing by Martin Walsh