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Director Iain Softley – who more than earned his spurs with his sterling 1997 adaptation of Henry James’s ‘The Wings of the Dove’ – relishes the task of bringing German author Cornelia Funke’s quaint adventure novel to the screen, drawing a clutch of charismatic and amusingly hammy performances from his predominantly British cast while gently espousing the pleasures of reading.

Like last year’s guilty pleasure ‘Enchanted’, ‘Inkheart’ plays on the fantastical possibilities of an overlap between fiction and reality, homing in on actor Brendan Fraser, who yet again essays another of his affable khaki academics. He plays a ‘Silvertongue’ – no, not a stalwart on the regional blue comedy circuit – someone with the ability to bring the written word to life when he reads out aloud. Problems arise when he inadvertently unleashes the megalomaniacal Capricorn (Andy Serkis as an amalgam of Gollum and a camp Bond villain) into the world while simultaneously incarcerating his wife into the pages of the titular novel.

Setting off on a Euro-jaunt with his daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) in order to locate a rare volume of ‘Inkheart’ and undo his myriad supernatural wrongs, he gathers a retinue of variously concerned/ angered conscripts (Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent and Paul Bettany – all enjoyable), whose characters represent the facets of the fiction world, from the collector to the author to the endearing fictional side-player who’s eventually doomed to death. It’s a familiar tale, but one told with gusto, wit and visual flare; of particular note is the dilapidated Germanic fortress where Capricorn and his cronies reside, which looks like it was plucked straight from the warped minds of a Gilliam or a del Toro.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday December 12 2008
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Iain Softley
Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire
Cast: Brendan Fraser
Andy Serkis
Sienna Guillory
Eliza Bennett
Paul Bettany
Jim Broadbent
Helen Mirren

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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I guess you love it or hate it! I'm 62 and went twice! It's an imaginative idea well realised - and if some of the characters were not fully rounded, part of the point is that they were lifted from a book. My one disappointment was that Helen Mirren's Eleanor - a real person - was more two-dimensional than the fictional characters. Apart from that - it's fantasy - suspend disbelief and its works!

An absolutely gorgeous film. This is definitley in one of my top five! Children over seven years of age will adore this film! PURE MAGIC.......

started off well, however my little one got quite scared at times. my husband fell asleep so perhaps he enjoyed the night better than we did.

long and boring film with a pointless story line, why does'nt the girl [or her dad]just write the end peice and read that, out at the begining of the film & save 2hrs of boredom!!

Excellent through out. I look forward watching this film again and again, If you want to escapism, then this is the film for the family

Very enchanting, a bit scary sometimes.But excellent scenes. Age range: 8-12 years.

boy this film drags. the characters are all too 2 dimensional to really give a fig about. It just feels like it was made for BBC childrens television. How this reviewer can liken this film to the far superior Enchanted I don't know. Astonishing too that the same director made one of my faves,The Wings of the Dove.

I always liked the Book, it's amazing and when i saw the film was out i was extremly happy. It was okay, a bit different from the way i imagined it but hey.

it drags a lot and gets worse as it evolves -with great set design and sfx -only for kids aged 6-12, our daughter liked it but we were bored and helen mirren looked and acted like a demented old hag -it was neither funny nor interesting -just overdone and embarassing -the fire juggler was the best bit

I suspect kids will love it but my partner and i thought it a bit slow with transparent story line, does'nt stack up to spiderwyck chronicles

Excellent family film, highly recommended. Me and my boyfriend watched this and we're both 18 and thoroughly enjoyed it.