Why does thunder always clap the second lightning strikes in movies? It doesn’t work that way in real life, yet films consistently add a thunderous boom with every studio light flicker. Is there some unwritten film industry rule that states thunderstorms cannot be realistic?
It’s a problem for a lot of films, including the dreadful bore that is Inkheart. One would think having the ability to read from a book and have it spring to life would lead to exciting adventure, but that’s hardly what has become of this book adaptation.
In fact, the concept is barely used for any story effect. Brendan Frasier plays the oddly named Mo Folchart (which sounds incredibly awkward on film), a “Silvertongue” with the ability to make books come to life. Unfortunately, he spends most of the movie captured, questioning people, or searching. It’s a wasted effort to come up with the concept, and turn it into such a droll, drawn out tale of his daughter and wife being kidnapped by the very people he read into existence.
Inkheart has a supposed budget of $60 million, yet it barely shows on screen. The locations are flat, repetitive, and uninteresting. It’s a stereotypical fairytale castle for much of the film, loaded with generic goons and Andy Serkis in a role that requires him to wear nothing but a formal suit. That’s at least a change of pace.
Inkheart never gains momentum, bogged down in the third act by an imprisonment that takes up precious screen time without progressing a story already struggling to find a pace. The finale hardly ups the excitement.
The film is supposedly part of a trilogy, although as a box office failure, it is doubtful the next ones will ever see film. There doesn’t seem to be any motivation for a sequel either, as the basic rules for bringing books to life are incredibly simple. Kids should stay away too. If they take this seriously, they’ll think all books are worth skipping.
A poor presentation of a rather bland film isn’t a surprise, although it is when it looks like this. This is a staggeringly low quality presentation, lacking in facial textures, general detail, and depth. Black levels are weak, giving the film a muddy, gray feel. Colors are inconsistent and drab, although flesh tones remain accurate. Some intentional blooming is accepted as part of the source.
Sharpness is fine if not spectacular. The VC-1 codec handles long shots of forests, filled with leaves and debris, quite well. There are no instances of artifacting, shimmering, or aliasing. That’s impressive; it’s a shame the rest of the transfer isn’t.
Update: The video portion of this review was brought into question by multiple readers. As such, after taking a second look, we are raising the video to three stars (up from two), with the following notes:
Black levels are weak, and as another site mentioned, the film carries a very hazy look. That is a fine way to describe the video issues on this disc. However, the black levels are marginally better than what was seen initially, enough to raise the score by a point. All other aspects of the review still stand.
A TrueHD mix effectively creates a believable sound field with the limited action it has available. As books “talk” to the characters, their voices spin through the soundfield wonderfully. Rain and fake thunder offer immersive depth to the audio, and a segment involving a twister is perfectly captured in all channels. Sadly, the low end is weak, with little impact even when called upon.
As a box office flop, there are few extras. A Story from the Cast and Crew is a brief story, told one line at a time by… well, the cast and crew. From the Imagination to the Page is a featurette on the writing process, and how ideas are fleshed out.
Nine deleted scenes include an alternate opening, and in total they run over 13 minutes. Eliza Reads to Us has child actor Eliza Bennett reading her favorite passage from the end of the Inkheart book. BD-Live support is also available.