Mo is a bookbinder, but that’s not all;
He’s also a Silvertongue, as I recall,
Which means a book’s characters don’t have a choice
But to leap off the page at the sound of his voice.
He’s traveled with Meggie, his daughter, for years
In search of a novel that always disappears.
In Europe, at last Mo discovers a copy
And quickly escapes in his rundown jalopy,
For Dustfinger’s found him, a man he once knew
Who’s followed him closely and wants the book too.
Both Meggie and Mo stay with Aunt Elinor,
A haughty old lady who owns books galore.
But Dustfinger brings bandits to the chalet,
Who take them all captive and haul them away
To Capricorn’s village, where Capricorn waits
To force Mo to use his gift inside his gates.
For Mo had read Capricorn, Basta, and Dust
Right out of Inkheart; thus, his voice he won’t trust
For when they came out, his wife Resa went in.
He’s sought the book since and just now found its twin.
Mo reads riches out of Arabian Nights,
As well as a boy named Farid, but Mo fights
When Capricorn burns Inkheart without remorse.
Dustfinger craves home, so he’s sad too, of course.
Dustfinger finds that Mo’s wife has been read
Already from Inkheart to serve Cap instead.
He helps all escape in the hopes that they’ll find
Inkheart with its author, leaving Resa behind.
They locate Fenoglio, thrilled his book’s come to life,
And leave Meggie there and go back for Mo’s wife.
Then Meggie is nabbed with Fenoglio, who
Discovers that she is a Silvertongue too.
After much capturing and escaping as well,
Capricorn has forced Meggie to read and raise hell
In the form of the Shadow, a monster he had,
To kill the old author, plus her mom and dad.
But by reading the writing she writes on her arm,
She keeps the huge Shadow from causing them harm.
Instead, it attacks Capricorn, for he’s sinned,
And both he and his men blow away in the wind.
At last, all is well, and they leave (though I’ll note
That Fenoglio entered the world that he wrote).
And Dust, who is more than the fruit of a pen,
Goes back to his world and his wife once again.
As a film, Inkheart is not the best fantasy adventure out there, but it’s quite entertaining and features some good performances. As an adaptation of a book, it takes quite a few liberties with the source material but, overall, seems much closer to the spirit and original appeal of the book than Eragon does.
First, the good things: Brendan Fraser is likable as Mo, and Eliza Hope Bennett is cute as Meggie, his daughter, though her English accent is confusing alongside Brendan Fraser’s lack of one. Both of them take a while to get into their roles, in my opinion, but the standout is Paul Bettany as Dustfinger, who brings his character’s pathos and moral struggle to life through mere looks. He, as well as Helen Mirren as Elinor and Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio, fit their roles like a glove and are evidence of good casting. The special effects aren’t bad, especially the impressive Shadow in the finale.
Now the bad: The ending of a movie can really hurt or help it. Sometimes it ruins what is otherwise a good film (Fried Green Tomatoes), while other times it merely detracts a bit (Howl’s Moving Castle). This is another example of the latter, but it does drive me crazy. The unrealistic finale tells me two things: (a) that Meggie is a prodigy who can somehow copy the writing style of a book she’s never read in no time, and (b) that her arm is extremely long. Also, the filmmakers set up so many potential elements for the sequel Inkspell, from Fenoglio’s comparing Mo to a blue jay to having basically the same open ending as the book. But then they tack on the scene where Mo sends Dustfinger back and completely demolish any hope for a second film. No bad guys escaping, no Orpheus, no Farid pining after Dustfinger. That last point is the most maddening; the film’s Farid saying “I can’t follow him” is soooooo out of character, I can hardly stand it. That being said, the final scene of Dustfinger running to meet his wife Roxanne after nine years apart is touching (especially for my VC) and almost makes up for the stupid line that preceded it.
Nevertheless, Inkheart has the same thrill Fenoglio feels in seeing beloved characters come to life, and, as a fan of film and books, I think combining the two is a brilliant idea.
Best line: (Meggie) “You’ve been to Persia, then?” (Elinor) “Yes, a hundred times. Along with St. Petersburg, Paris, Middle Earth, distant planets, and Shangri-La.”
VC’s best line: (Capricorn) “Why would we ever want to go back, when your world is so accommodating, with your telephones and your guns and … what’s that sticky stuff called?” (Basta) “Duct tape.” (Capricorn) “Yes, duct tape. I love duct tape!”
Visual Effects: 6
Other (poor ending): -5
TOTAL: 27 out of 60
Tomorrow – #352: Meet the Robinsons
© 2014 S. G. Liput