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DVD Review

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Starring: Brendan Fraser, Eliza Bennett, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis and Jim Broadbent
Entertainment in Video
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 13 April 2009

Mo Folchart and his 12-year-old daughter, Meggie, share an extraordinary gift for bringing characters to life when they read aloud. But their gift can be dangerous: when a character from a book appears, a real person disappears into its pages. On a trip to a secondhand book shop, Mo hears familiar voices. And when he finds where they’re coming from, he is stunned. It’s Inkheart, a book he’s been searching for since his wife, Resa, vanished into its mystical world. But Mo’s plan to use the book to find and rescue Resa is thwarted when Capricorn, the evil villain of Inkheart, kidnaps Meggie and demands that she bring to life his most powerful ally - The Shadow. In desperation, Mo assembles a small group of allies - some from the real world, some from the pages of books - and embarks on a daring and perilous journey to set things right...

Inkheart is based on the book of the same name by Cornelia Funke. The story treads very familiar ground - The Neverending Story mixed with elements of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings is probably the easiest way of describing it.

The basic story follows Mo Folchart and his young daughter, Meggie. For years the two have been travelling around the country, for reasons unknown to Meggie. Mo has been keeping a secret from his daughter - that he has an ability that he'd rather not have. When Mo reads from a book, any book, what he reads comes to life. This usually result in a character, or creature, from the book appearing in our world - but a balance has to be struck and that means that someone from our world has to go into the book.

Mo's gift was something he was unaware of until his wife vanished when he was reading a copy of the book Inkhart. Since then Mo has travelled all over searching out second hand book stores for a copy of Inkhart in the hopes that he can bring his wife back to our world.

This is a story that would have worked much better in the years before the introduction of the Internet. Not the brightest man on the planet, Mo never thought for a second to search out the author - the first thing that those around him think of when they're let in on his power. It could be that previously he couldn't remember the author's name - but then there is a registry for this sort of thing or he could do a search for the book on the Internet.

The rest of the movie is a strictly by the number affair with very few surprises. The final act, which sees the appearance of The Shadow, felt like it was paying homage to both The Mummy and the end act of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One of the most interesting aspects is the number of respected actors who make an appearance. While Brendan Fraser plays himself, as always, there's also impressive roles played by Helen Mirren (although there is a pretty embarrassing scene when Mo tells her about his ability), Andy Serkis and Jim Broadbent. There's also an interesting cameo by John Thomson (The Fast Show) as Darius the silver tongue with a stutter. But it's Paul Bettany, as Dustfinger, who stands out head and shoulders above everyone else as the best actor.

Extras are pretty poor. All we get are Eliza Reads to Us (3 min, 48 sec featurette introduced by Cornelia Funke, who wrote the novel, who explains that the ending to the book was missed out from the film. Eliza Bennett, who plays Meggie, then reads the end of the book to us); and a Theatrical Trailer that is a little misleading as it makes it appear that the main characters are transported to another world.

An entertaining enough movie, even if there's very little here you won't have seen done better elsewhere. However, once you've watched it once you're very unlikely to want to watch it again.


Darren Rea

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