- Released Internationally on 23/01/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 17/12/08
In a nutshell
Based on a rather successful German children’s book, this fantasy tale brings a host of colourful story-book characters to life, literally. A young girls discovers that her father has a rather unusual talent – when he reads her story books the characters spring to life. But when reading a book called Inkheart, he accidentally reads the nasty characters out into our world, and his wife into the book. No, this is not based on a true story.
Who’s in it?
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy trilogy, Bedazzled) stars as Mo, the man with the reading prowess. Sienna Guillory (Eragon, Love Actually and Malta’s own Helen of Troy) is his misplaced wife and newcomer Eliza Bennett is his rather fortunate daughter. Their quest is assisted by an eccentric aunt (Helen Mirren - The Queen) and the book’s author (Jim Broadbent - Moulin Rouge!, Bridget Jones’ Diary, the latest Indiana Jones, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe). The colourful fantasy creatures that come crawling off the pages include performances by Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, The Da Vinci Code) and creature-actor par excellence Andy Serkis (King Kong, Gollum).
Why we’re hyped
Ever since The Lord of the Rings stormed to critical, popular and box-office heights, a number of fantasy films have tried to fill the void left by its absence. The Harry Potter franchise, another phenomenon, is already reaching its cinema conclusion, and children and adults need new magical creatures and fantasy worlds to escape to. This book is the first of a trilogy, and seems to have attracted all the right kind of attention. With a stellar cast like the one listed above, I think we can be cautiously optimistic that this will be an extraordinary Christmas film for all ages.
Flights of Fancy
It’s not easy being a fantasy film nowadays. Despite the huge surge in interest in the genre created by the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises, very few of the fantasy films that inevitably followed have been able to match their appeal and success. Even the Narnia films are struggling to keep their franchise going, despite excellent source material, whereas the recent Eragon, Stardust and The Golden Compass made only modest splashes at the box-office. So I often approach the genre with caution, for fear of having to sit through a middle-earth rip-off, or a piecemeal mess. Which is why I was very pleased to discover that Inkheart is neither.
The film about the book
The story starts off as an ode to books and reading, and its wonderful introduction makes you want to rush home and read everything on your bookshelves. The main character is a book-restorer, who scours the globe leafing through antique book-shops looking for relics to revive, but who is also on the lookout for a very particular, and rare book called Inkheart. The central theme about the wonder of books continues throughout the film, and is crucial in the grand finale, and this alone should be reason enough to take your children to see this fairytale.
The large cast of major and minor characters are all very colourful and eccentric in their own way, and they’re brought to life with gusto by the all-star cast. Their odd appearance mixes well with the modern-day yet picturesque settings to create a fantasy world which has sprung from the pages of books into our own world. Along with characters from the titular book, there’s a host of well-known creatures from much-loved classics, and they all converge at the end for a spectacular reading session that tries to set everything right and send everyone to the story they came from.
Funke and Original
German author Cornelia Funke has crafted a fun, vibrant and original story, which should appeal to children of all ages, and which has translated very well onto the big screen. Despite a nemesis that looks uncannily like a Balrog, she manages to steer clear of many of the usual fantasy clichés, and I sincerely hope that the two sequels she wrote are also made into films as entertaining as this one.