Monday, January 19, 2009

This story flows beautifully from the book to the big screen

Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser) is a father who possesses a secret ability to bring characters from books to life when he reads them aloud. But when Mo accidentally brings a power-hungry villain, Capricorn (Andy Serkis) from a rare children’s fable to life, the villain kidnaps Mo’s daughter, Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) and demands Mo bring other evil fictional characters to life. In an attempt to rescue his daughter, Mo assembles a disparate group of friends - both real and magic - and embarks on a journey to save her and set things right. 

Inkheart is one of those rare films about the power of stories that magically connects with adults and children. It’s based on Cornelia Funke’s novel about a father and daughter who travel the world’s antiquarian bookshops in search of a potty medieval fantasy called Inkheart. Finding a copy of the book is the only way Brendan Fraser’s Mo Folchart can rectify a ghastly mistake.
Folchart was born with a mythical gift: he has a supernatural ability to bring characters and entire chapters of literary prose to life simply by reading a book out loud in his sonorous, crooning voice. Fraser is not the first actor who naturally springs to mind when it comes to the slippery business of shaping a killer line. But his luminous charm and panicky looks when the camera shudders and a baffled peasant drops out of the sky, is absurdly perfect. The ingenious twist is that when Folchart brings a character to life, a real person is sucked into the pages of the story, which is how he originally lost his wife (Sienna Guillory) a decade ago while reading Inkheart to their daughter. The only way to free the beauty now chained to a medieval sink is to find the missing book and “read” her back to life. In Iain Softley’s rip-roaring adventure, the clashes between the real world and the realms of fiction are a chaotic, hilarious, eye-popping joy. The wit and invention is breathtaking. There are inky words still printed on the faces of the fictional goons who kidnap Folchart and his feisty 12-year-old daughter, Meggie, played by Eliza Hope Bennett. The exotic menagerie of beasts — set loose from tales as madly removed as The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan — crash through the action with hilarious, sometimes hair-raising, anarchy. Andy Serkis’s terrific Inkheart tyrant, whom Folchart accidentally swapped for his wife, has not the slightest intention of returning to a fusty old fantasy. He has shaved his head, bought a snappy suit, and armed his goons with machineguns. He threatens to murder Helen Mirren’s batty aunt unless Folchart conjures an apocalyptic monster called the Shadow to life from the darkest chapter of Inkheart. The sublime irony of this medley of state-of-the-art special effects is how earnestly Softley’s film champions the superiority of the written word. Inkheart shows why books are wonderful yet dangerous places; how a well-told story unlocks the imagination; and how words unleash the most unpredictable emotions. Thoroughly enjoyable to see books come alive. A 3 on my "Go See" scale with a "Happily Ever After" on the end. 

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