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Blu-ray Review: Inkheart

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A popular theme in literature and movies is the idea that the "real" characters from the book/movie are able to interact with "fictional" characters from an internal realm. In Jumanji, animals come from a realm of games and invade the characters' world. In Night at the Museum, Ben Stiller encounters hundreds of historical entities that come to life. Inkheart continues with this theme.

In Inkheart, Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser) is a silvertongue; that is, he is able to "talk" characters out of books. At first, Mo does not know that he is able to do this, nor is he aware of the consequences of doing so. When Mo draws characters forth, he also happens to send a real person back. He finally learns of his powers, and their dangers, when he accidentally brings Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and his evil henchmen out of the book Inkheart, and places his wife into it in their stead.

While I am normally happy with this sort of plot, and absolutely loved Jumanji (granted, I last watched it when I was 12), I was not too pleased with Inkheart. The entire plot seems forced and filled with holes. For example, there is no logical reason for the fact that the wife gets sucked into the book, but nothing does when other non-human items are brought out. For example, in the opening scene, when Mo is reading Little Red Riding Hood to his wife and daughter, we see a red cape float to the ground; nothing is taken from Mo's world and put back into the story. Additionally, throughout the movie, Capricorn is attempting to bring his master from the book, The Shadow, to our world. Logically, Capricorn wouldn't want to do this, as he is now the master. Overall, Inkheart is an attempt to capitalize on a good book, but it fails in the translation (pun intended).

The characters in the book are vibrant and realistic. In the movie, that is not the case, and we can sum them up as forgettable. This is the fault of both the actors and the screenplay. Fraser, who is a decent action-movie actor, looks like a rag doll and flat character during the entire film. Eliza Bennett, who plays Maggie, is so below the radar that I forget her name, and the name of her character. Even Jim Broadbent, who normally plays small but memorable, roles, is lost in the story. Frankly, I believe that the actors bring nothing to the movie, as they are given nothing to work with.

In short, I really didn't like it one bit.

I hate to continue being negative, but the quality of video on this Blu-ray release is far below par. All of the fade-outs look like they were made in the 1980s, with the wavy mirage image, instead of with the realistic CG that we now use. Additionally, the colors are subdued, and all of the special effects look amateurish. Frankly, it looks as though this is a DVD from the early '00s, not a Blu-ray disc from 2009. Throughout the movie, I felt as though my HD-TV and my PS3 were put to waste.

While my TV went to waste, my 5.1 surround sound system totally rocked it out. Inkheart is given to us Dolby Digital 5.1, and I was surprised with the quality, considering the rest of the movie. I was able to hear everything, from the engine backfiring, to the dialog, to The Shadow's subtle noises. Heck, I was even able to hear the page rustling as Mo read the book, which is pretty cool considering what the movie is about. Inkheart's sound is the only redeeming feature of the movie, but it is a single gem in a giant pile of dirt.

Just as Inkheart was lacking in plot, this disc is lacking in extras. Just four features are included in the release, and three are quite boring. There is "A Story from the Cast and Crew," a section called "Imagination to the Page: How Writers Write," and the normal deleted scenes. The only interesting section is where "Eliza Reads to Us." There is great potential here, but it is lost when you realize that Bennett is not that compelling when she reads. Just like the movie, the extras fail miserably.

Overall, Inkheart is a waste of shelf space, and a waste of the time it took to watch and review. While the book is really well written and quite enjoyable, none of those qualities translate to the movie. Children might enjoy the story, and I advise that you make the babysitter watch it with them, and not submit yourself to such torture.

Movie: No plot, forgettable actors, and nothing to write home about.
Blu-ray Quality: Looks like a DVD from the late '90s.
Sound Quality: The sound blew me away.
Extras: There was only one interesting extra, but it was badly handled.
Overall: A waste of time and shelf space.

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About Robert M. Barga