Monday, January 26, 2009

Inkheart: The Movie

Inkheart: The Movie

For anyone who hasn’t read the book, Inkheart is about a girl, Meggie, and her father, Mortimer (Mo), who have the ability to bring creatures and characters to life when they read aloud. When Meggie is a child, Mo accidentally reads out Capricorn and Basta (two marauding villains) and Dustfinger (a traveling fire juggler) from a book called Inkheart. Years later, they must deal with the consequences of letting these characters lose upon their world.

This is one of my favourite books.

I walked into the movie theater expecting it to be a terrible movie, to be honest. Wild deviations from the book, poorly represented characters (though not by Brendan Fraser or Paul Bettany- they're so good that I trust in their acting), an over-simplified script that would cut out the heart of the story....

I really should know better than to take previews at face value. They do a poor job of actually previewing this movie.

I'm so glad that I was wrong.

There were, of course, changes made to the story when they were adapting the book to a movie. That's a given. But unlike many book-to-movie films, these changes fit into the story almost seamlessly. They still felt plausible. They worked within that world. If characters read out anything that hadn’t been in the original story, the writers made it (or them) important in some way later, instead of just leaving book characters and mythical beasts running around. If a scene had to be changed, there was a clear reason for it within the story.

Much of the acting in this movie was brilliant. Paul Bettany was Dustfinger exactly as I imagined him. Eliza Bennet as Meggie was much better than I had expected. She was young and strong and determined without overpowering her character’s kind of quiet nature. Elinor was a joy- feisty and adventurous as her mouth motored on without her (and her library was suitably gorgeous).

Brendan Fraser played a good Mo. Not the best Mo he could have played, in my opinion, but I think the writers included too many fight scenes for the character. We occasionally saw Rick O’Connell instead of Mo, but it didn’t detract from the quality of the overall movie and we saw exactly who I wanted Mo to be in the quiet, father-daughter scenes.

Andy Serkis. I’ve had problems with this casting choice for ages, mostly because that, while I think Serkis does a great Gollum, I don’t think he’s capable of being the terrifying evil that Capricorn embodies. I’m still not convinced that he’s Capricorn when he’s acting in the movie, but he didn’t ruin the movie for me like I thought he would. Most importantly, he wasn’t funny like the previews lead me to believe. But I don’t find the man menacing or particularly cruel in any way.

The villains, in general, were not really menacing or cruel (save for the Shadow, of course). Basta’s role was downplayed tremendously and Flatnose and the others were used almost solely as comic relief.

But the Shadow was awesome. Literally. Filled me with awe. It was reminiscent of the masterpiece that the Balrog was in the Lord of the Rings. Large and terrifying without being cheesy or over the top.

Overall, I think it was a great movie. Inkheart is a huge story to try and cram into a couple of hours, but I think they managed to capture the heart of it. As I went to go see it with both my parents, a friend my age (20), and my youngest brother (12), I can attest that this is a good movie for most ages. It may not be a movie for very small children, though, but that’s entirely up to parents.*

Unfortunately, there is little chance for the sequel due to some of the changes the writers made. Now that I’ve seen how good this movie came out, I’m a little disappointed that we won’t see the rest of the series.

*I’m not really a good judge of what’s appropriate for children younger than ten. The four of us were raised on these sorts of movies. My youngest brother saw all of the Star Wars movies as a very young child and he was six when The Lord of the Rings came out in theaters. Some parents that we know were appalled that we let him see them.

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