The story is a whirl, a jumble, an effusion -- sometimes flowing smoothly, other times jerking along as if the filmmaker has been given advice he resents regarding pacing and the balance of sweetness and danger.
A movie that can produce the image of Helen Mirren astride a unicorn has some claim on the audience's interest, and a movie that can make that image seem perfectly uninteresting is in some serious trouble.
Inkheart illustrates an obvious problem with making a movie about the joys of reading when the movie made is labored and sludgy looking: Why bother seeing it if you can stay home and read a book instead?
A kids' adventure movie can be a lot of things -- wild and woolly, loosey-goosey, full of foolishness -- but they should never be shabby. And that's the best word for Inkheart.
Inkheart may not be rotten to the core -- instead of maggots, the fantasy adventure seethes with good intentions -- but the overripeness of its special effects can't be overstated.
The film's storybook Alpine vistas are lovely to behold, and bits of humor pop out in welcome moments. Other than that, it never quite springs to life as intended -- not in your kitchen, and not on screen.
Much of this comes across as a labor of love, with a classy cast frolicking in Iain Softley's whimsical direction of a lushly imagined adaptation by David Lindsay-Abaire.
Inkheart was a busy, crowded, hugely successful book to start with....the film version retains nearly all of author Cornelia Funke's story complications. It's a mixed bag and a serious load for a movie to carry.
Even if it can't quite conjure up the movie magic it intends, Inkheart does serve as public service announcement promoting literacy. And as such, your kids could do a lot worse at the cineplex.
Inkheart is entertaining enough, if not always easy to follow. And if it does nothing else, at least it may inspire kids to read, if for no other reason than to help make sense of it all.
While we can appreciate the decent effects, the bang-up settings and a good cast, we can only hope they got some sight-seeing in on their days off. Whatever magic there was on this shoot is probably in their home movies.