Women On Film – “Inkheart” – Susan Granger reviews

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Novelist Cornelia Funke’s popular children’s story about the love of literature is not well served by this confusing fantasy adventure revolving around people called Silvertongues who, when they read aloud from a book, magically bring its characters to life. But then a person from the real world is sucked into the realm of fiction.

Twelve year-old Maggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) lives with her book-collecting father, Mortimer “Mo” Folchart (Brendan Fraser). In a flashback, it’s revealed that Maggie’s mother, Resa (Sienna Guillory), mysteriously vanished years earlier. Then on a visit to the Swiss Alps, where Mo, who is a Silvertongue, comes across a rare volume of a mystical medieval tale called “Inkheart,” what happened to Resa quickly becomes clear – but bringing her home presents daunting and dangerous challenges when they land at the mansion of Maggie’s eccentric Great-Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren), who has her own impressive library.

There’s Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), the mysterious fire juggler, and malevolent Capricorn (Andy Serkis) with his knife-flashing sidekick, Basta (Jamie Foreman), who capture Maggie and demand that Mo bring other evil fictional characters to life. As the convoluted plot unfolds in a tiny Italian village, its creator, Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent), oddly enough, seems totally unaware of what is happening.

Although adapted for the screen by Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist David Lindsay-Abaire (“Robots,” the upcoming “Spider Man 4”) and directed by Iain Softley (“The Skeleton Key,” “The Wings of the Dove”), the essential theme is overwhelmed by the eye-catching special effects and flashy production design which, rather than enhancing the supernatural narrative, create an emotional distance from the characters, who are never properly developed. That’s not to say it isn’t fun glimpsing the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz” and the ticking crocodile from “Peter Pan” in Capricorn’s castle. But the concept that someone can simply change the endings of classics on a whim is a bit unsettling.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10 “Inkheart” is a folklore-filled 4, disappointing because of its poor execution.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.