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Inkheart (2009) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
ImageI must confess "Inkheart" to be a disappointment.  It is a combination of "The Princess Bride," "Bedtime Stories" and "Chronicles of Narnia."  However, "Inkheart" doesn't possess any of the engaging aspects of the aforementioned.  The film leaves everything to be desired.  Fans of the genre seem to be more forgiving of the film, and despite being a fan myself, I found myself once again writhing in my chair struggling to make it to the end of the film.

The cast of the film is rather lackluster.  Brendan Fraser gives the exact same performance as he did in "Journey tot the Center of the Earth," bland and uninspired.  Of course, the cast didn't have much to work with.  The characters are poorly written with not even an inkling as to why we should care about the characters, the good ones or the villains.  It seems that the film was taken from a cookie-cutter good versus evil script, and a poor cutter at that.

The events in the film are contrived and simply make the viewer want to hit the writers on the head with a frying pan.  "Inkheart" has far too many unimportant scenes taking up valuable screen time.  That, probably above anything else is what drives the film into the ground.  The film was never given very much attention by the studios.  Without any word of mouth praise of the film it quickly entered and exited theaters.

"Inkheart" has an interesting premise but it is undeveloped.  There are holes abound.  It seems as if the writers ignored whatever didn't work for them and used everything that doesn't work for the viewer, only in the writers' heads.  In the film, Brendan Fraser stars as Mo Folchart, the worst film name if I have ever heard one.  He is called a silvertongue, a person that is able to bring characters and objects off the pages of a book by reading out loud.  The trade of is that for each character that comes out of a book, someone from the real world has to go into the book.  Of course the writers overlook this fact when it becomes an nuisance to them.

When Mo's daughter was just a little girl, he had no idea of the power that he possessed.  One night, while reading a story to his daughter, Meggie (Eliza Bennett), villains escape from the book and his wife goes into the book.  The hero of the book also escapes and helps to save Mo and his daughter.  From that point on, Mo vowed never to read out loud from a book again, and he kept the events that transpired that night a secret from his daughter.

Ten years later, Mo is still searching for a copy of the book from which he read that fateful night, as seemingly all copies had been destroyed.  The villain of the story, Capricorn (Andy Serkis), has mounted an army in a village way up high in Italian mountains.  He acquired himself a silvetongue and forced him to read evil characters out of books.  However, his silvertongue has a stutter and everyone that comes out of the book has lines of text embedded in their skin, or other problems such as lack of speech. Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), honestly who comes up with these names, is the hero of the book, but longs only to return to his story and his family.  For years he tries to hunt down Mo so that he can return him to the book.  However, Mo is only looking for a way to read his wife out of the book.  Little does he know that his wife is no longer in the book.  She has been read out by Capricorn's silvertongue and held as a slave girl in his kitchen.  Dustfinger, in alliance with Capricorn, knows this fact but keeps it to himself.  Why?  Because he thinks that Mo will not read him into the book once he gets his wife back.  Like I said earlier the logic behind some of the events in the story are just preposterous.

All along, Capricorn has a plan of his own, to have Mo read The Shadow, the true villain of the Inkheart book into the world.  This just seems like a plot that the writers felt like throwing into the film.  All of the plots in the film feel unfinished and forced.

Just about as bad as the movie is the video quality.  I expected a whole lot more from this film on Blu-ray given its newness status.  The transfer is good and the transfer is bad, just like the movie itself.  The video quality looks as if it was shot through a layer of fog.  The hazy nature gets very distracting.  Details are good however, particularly in foreground objects.  However, the textures on objects suffer due to the hazy nature of the film.  Colors are not as vibrant in outdoor sequences as I would have liked.  Indoor sequences have a much better outcome.  The hazy appears to be lifted.  The contrast levels have no balance throughout the film.  For most of the film the contrast is overblown.  Whites appear like bright hot spots all over the place.  Film grain comes and goes and there are actually some blemishes present from the original source print to the digital transfer.  Black levels are also all over the place.  Crushing is prominent.  In the end it is just an average transfer due to the inconsistencies.

The audio is also on the same level as the film itself and video quality.  For nearly the entire film it felt like the audio was coming from just the center channel.  I don't mean just the dialogue, I mean everything.  It was almost like it was going through a stereo decoding process.  The rear channels are empty, completely transparent.  With a fantasy film such as this, the sound design should have allowed for plenty of ambience and effects in the surround channels.  Alas, there is virtually none.  The LFE channel is nonexistent.  There were several instances in which I was anticipating a big explosion or boom, and nothing.  Fizzle.  While some of these problems are probably due to the initial sound design, the audio track just doesn't have the prowess need for a fantasy film.  Note: This title comes with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track as default.  Make sure to change your audio source to Dolby TrueHD 5.1 as it is infinitely better.  I won't even try and describe what the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds like.  The above description is for the Dolby TrueHD track.

The Blu-ray comes with a handful of special features, most of which are in high definition, not that that makes it worth viewing.  First there are some deleted scenes, which don't offer much.  "Eliza Reads to Us" is a feature in which Meggie reads a passage to us accompanied by illustrations.  "A Story from the Cast and Crew" has cast and crew inserting their own lines into the film.  "From Imagination to the Page: How Writers Write" is brief segment that doesn't offer much.  The disc is also BD-Live enabled.

This package also comes with a standard DVD, which contains a Digital Copy of the film, as well as functions as a standard DVD edition of the film.  Thus, this package has three versions of the film on two discs.

"Inkheart" fails to capture the imagination with poor screenwriting and subpar acting.  The video and audio qualities are almost as poor as the film.  True fantasy genre fans will probably want to give this film a chance, but otherwise I'm going to have to say skip it.

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