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Apparently Reading is Dangerous

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Inkheart is a fantasy in the vein of Harry Potter, but it also strives to be seen as a fairy tale. Unfortunately, while Inkheart knows what it wants to be, it gets caught up in its own story where logic becomes an unnecessary byproduct and it never quite gets its footing right. However, despite its blatant pitfalls, Inkheart is still an enjoyable family film that attempts to bring across an original fantastical story.

The film centers on Mo (Brendan Fraser) and Meggie (Eliza Bennett) Folchart as they travel through Europe for Mo’s job as a “book doctor". They appear to be a happy father and daughter, who happen to have a great love for books. However, Mo has a great secret that he wants to keep from Meggie -- he’s a “silvertongue". A “silvertongue” is someone who, when they read aloud, summon characters and objects from those books into the real world.

Unfortunately, something from the real world goes in to take its place. This is why Mo no longer reads aloud. When Meggie was young, he was reading her Inkheart and when the characters came out, his wife, Resa (Sienna Guillory) went in. But when the two come in contact with Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a character from the book, Mo and Meggie, along with her Great Aunt Eleanor (Helen Mirren) are thrown head first into the Inkheart world.

The reason that Dustfinger, a fire juggler, is looking for Mo is because he wants to get back into the book, but Mo is still too frightened after losing his wife. So Dustfinger has no choice but to enlist the aid of the evil Capricorn (Andy Serkis), who was also released from the book to help him. Soon Capricorn is after Mo and his family and they are off to his castle where Mo has to settle it once and for all.

The story actually sounds much better than it’s played out on screen. Fraser is great as Mo and the first half of the film is exciting and foreshadows a strong and solid film. But it’s a story that becomes wrapped up in its own rules and eventually begins to contradict its own logic. Despite being based on a novel by Cornelia Funke, the second half feels like a rough draft. It knows the ending it wants, but it doesn’t obtain it. It’s the type of ending where you ask yourself questions like “why didn’t they do that in the first five minutes?” and “but I thought they couldn’t do that?”

Still there’s enough in the performances from Fraser, Mirren, Bettany and the rest of the cast to sustain the story. To enjoy this film is to enjoy individual scenes and moments, instead of the whole.