Inkheart only hit the movie theaters 2 or 3 weeks ago, and is already down to only one showing per day at any theater where you can find it. And, having seen it this afternoon, I have to say that that is really too bad.
Here's the basic idea of the movie: Some guy reads a story aloud to his daughter, and as he reads things come to life out of it. Unfortunately, for each person that comes out of a story, someone has to go in. Years ago, he lost his wife this way when 3 bad guys came out, and he's been searching for a way to get her back ever since.
It's a simple enough idea, really, based in a series of "children's" books by Cornelia Funke (not quite sure that's the author's real name, but it's on the books and in the movie credits). And I went to the movie fully expecting it to be a nice little romp with Brendan Fraser in another kid-friendly adventure movie. Mostly it was that. But...
It's also a rather complex story which includes a great-aunt (played by the marvellous Helen Mirren), a fire juggling thief (Paul Bettany), the original thief from the tales on which Aladdin is based, and Toto (yes, they brought in the little dog, too). The dad is a "book doctor" and one of the most terrifying moments in the movie is the destruction of a library filled with one-of-a-kind books. Nothing run-of-the-mill kids' adventure movie in that!
There are villainous villains, but there are also people who may only be bad because that's how the author portrays them (the street thief is a good guy, for instance). On it's surface this is an adventure movie focused on family and fantasy. But, underneath that, there is an amazing love for books. You see, without the story being read--not simply told, but truly read--nothing comes to life.
Beyond that, though, there is a true appreciation of where books can take you. The books in this movie truly do speak to the characters. We hear them whispering in a bookshop and in a library. And we know that the people who come from the pages have more story than the author gives us, because their worlds are evolving even when the pages are closed.
I left the theater wondering where I could buy the books and wanting to know more about the characters. It's been a while since I felt that way about a movie and it's source material.
Sadly, this belief in the power of books and the imaginations they inspire may be a dwindling one. There were only 9 people watching Inkheart today.
Oh. Right. Movie review. Umm...
Action and adventure for the whole family? Yes. Great moments with Helen Mirren riding a unicorn? Yes. Overall? A (Okay. If you didn't guess by now, I really liked it. You should go see it.)