The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: New Line - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/German Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, German
Starring: Brandon Frasier, Eliza Hope Bennett, Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis
Directed by: Iain Softley
Music by: Javier Navarrete
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire based on the book by Cornelia Funke
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 23, 2009
"Every story ever written is just waiting to become real"
When Mo Folchart reads a story, the characters leap off the page. Literally. And that's a problem. Mo must somehow use his special powers to send the interlopers back to their worldand save ours. If ever a task was easier read than done, this is it. Mo and his daughter Meggie, aided by friends real and fictional, plunge into a thrilling quest that pits them against diabolical villains, fantastic beasts and dangers at every turn. Brendan Fraser (The Mummy films, Journey to the Center of the Earth) leads a splendid cast (including Academy Award winners* Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent) in an all-fun, all-family film of Cornelia Funke's bestseller. Follow Mo and Meggie into adventure more exciting than any ever read. Because it's adventure they're going to live!
Fantasy adventure films can be sooo much fun. I love the limitless possibilities of their storylines and characters which tend to display the imaginative breadth of their creators. This story revolves around a man named Mo who has the ability to bring characters from stories to life simply by reading them aloud. Those who have this ability are called silver tongues. Unfortunately for Mo he is initially unaware that he can do this. One night he and his wife Resa (Guillory) are visiting his wealth, book collecting Aunt Eleanor (Mirren) and decide to read the mythical story of Inkheart to their three year old daughter Meggie. Fast forward 9 years to find 12 year old Meggie and Mo traveling to various locations in search of rare books. Meggie can sense that her father is searching for something specific but he never admits that to her. Her questions regarding his sadness every time they leave a store empty handed go unanswered. Her mother hasn't been with them since Meggie was a little girl and Mo won't discuss why. A stop at a small rare book shop bears fruit as Mo enters and is drawn to the sounds he hears that seem to be calling to him. He locates a copy of the rare and hard to find Inkheart book. He buys it but doesn't share this with Meggie. Outside as she waits for him she is approached by a stranger who knows her name and asks where her father is. Mo comes upon them and recognizes the stranger whose name is Dustfinger. Dustfinger can create and manipulate fire with his hands and pursues Meggie and Mo. They escape and retreat to the large estate of Aunt Eleanor. There Dustfinger catches up with them and informs Mo that since he won't help him willingly that he has called upon the help of Capricorn to force him to do so. Capricorn minion's then arrive and destroy Eleanor's rare book collection, capture the three of them and take them to Capricorn's castle which is located high up in the mountains.
Once there they are taken to a large barn containing dozens of locked cells. The cells are filled with mythical creatures, and strange animals that appear to have come right from the pages of storybooks. It is then that Mo finally tells Meggie and Eleanor the truth about what has been going on. He tells them about the night he read Inkheart to Meggie and how characters from the story including Capricorn and Dustfinger appeared. He also explained to them that when characters come out of the book that someone has to go in. It turns out that Resa disappeared into the book on that night 9 years ago and that he has been searching for a copy of it ever since in order to read her back out. The problem is that it isn't an exact science and determining who/what comes out can be random. In the meantime Capricorn is villainous and has decided he wants to remain in this world. He has located and destroyed as many copies of the book as possible in order to prevent his going back. Dustfinger left his wife behind when he was drawn out of the book and desperately wants to be read back in. Mo has refused because he wanted to ensure that Resa was safely read out before hand. The issue they now face is Capricorn who has found another silver tongue to help him read characters/things from the book. The problem is that this new reader's abilities bring characters out but not exactly as they appear in the book. Capricorn has other plans that require the use of a silver tongue like Mo that has the ability to correctly bring characters from book. As the story unfolds Meggie makes a startling discovery, Dustfinger obtains information for Mo about Resa's whereabouts and Capricorn unveils his diabolical plan. Will Mo, Meggie and Resa be united? Can they prevent Capricorn from unleashing his infernal plot? Whose side is Dustfinger on? How does Eleanor fit into all of this? The answers to these questions and more are revealed in this film adaptation that is based upon Cornelia Funke's best selling novel of the same name.
This is a bit of a bland but entertaining story that I found enjoyable. It held my interest throughout and had a few characters that I found likeable. Eleanor didn't have a big part but she was lots of fun. She is portrayed by the attractive, always reliable and scene stealing Helen Mirren. Brandon Frasier is pretty much one dimensional but he manages to pick roles that don't extend beyond his depth and I find him appealing in them. Young Eliza Bennett did just fine as Meggie. Quality supporting roles played by the likes of Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, and Andy Serkis is what helped to make this a bit of a better film. If you look carefully you'll notice Jennifer Connolly in a brief cameo as Dustfinger's wife Roxanne. Compared to some of the best fantasy film adaptations this one comes up a bit short. It is probably more elementary in scope but still has enough depth to appeal to older as well as younger audiences.
The rating is for fantasy adventure action, some scary moments and brief language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Inkheart comes to Blu-ray Disc from New Line featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.4 mbps.
Overall this high definition video presented well despite a few problems that are worthy of note. Resolution was generally good as images had appreciable depth and dimension with well articulated delineation that was capable of excellent fine rendering. The interior segments shot in the bowels of Capricorn's castle, in the uneven light of its halls, and the tight confines of Eleanor's library had three dimensional perspective and excellent image penetration. Subtle minutia visible during close ups was appreciable. Sharpness was a mixed bag though as there were instances where softening was readily apparent. I also noticed some aliasing and subtle but discernible ringing/video noise. I didn't find it intolerable but its presence is notable. I was happy with the reproduction of blacks and shadow detail was strong. Contrast was a little uneven but fidelity didn't appear to suffer as a result. The exterior sequence shot on the grounds outside of Fenoglio's flat featured bright colors, definable clarity, and snappy contrast. Fleshtones looked great as complexions had descriptive, lifelike texture and rich lustrous tonality. The long range views of the mountainous landscapes around Capricorn's castle offered multi-layered earth tones, lush foliage, and crisp definition that at times could be captivating. Colors ranged from deeply saturated and vibrant to reserved and tonally subdued. I never felt that this fell outside of appropriateness and appeared to be scene dependent.
The last couple of discs that I have reviewed from Warner/New Line had the Dolby TrueHD lossless soundtrack at the default. For some reason this one didn't which was disappointing. This isn't a big deal but I would prefer consistency in maintaining of the higher resolution lossless track as the default. This soundtrack delivers excellent sound quality that is rich in sonic detail and offers punchy dynamic enhancement. The mix utilizes the entire system to create an enveloping and aurally stable atmosphere that brims with diffused ambience and well placed discrete sound effects. It blends the front three channels seamlessly with the surrounds to re-create the sounds of the open aired venues and close quartered hallways and stone walled dungeons. The mix successfully handles the multitude of audio effects and accurately places them within the room's acoustic environment. I found the attention to detail regarding the placement of sounds with the mix to be impressive. Detail is first rate as the record sounds have superb presence and identifiable delineation. Bass contained within the mix had good solidity and palpable impact as it helped reproduce deep claps of thunder, swirling breaths of fire, and the large scale assault of the giant Shadow in the film's finale. Dialogue was always clear and concise throughout but needed a little more prominence within the front soundstage as I felt that it blended in too much during some of the busier action sequences. I found this to be a very decent surround mix that mated well with the source.
- (HD) A story from the cast & crew - A game of sorts that is hosted by Cornelia Funke and features the cast in a running adlibbed story - 6 minutes
- (HD) From imagination to the page: How writer's write - Hosted by Cornelia Funke - 10 minute featurette
- (HD) Eliza reads to us - Eliza Hope Bennett (Meggie) reads one of her favorite passages (that didn't make it into the film) from the book
- Warner Bros. BD-Live enabled
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - A standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable playback device
Inkheart is an enjoyable and family friendly fantasy adaptation of the novel by Cornelia Funke. It isn't the most engaging genre film and its story by comparison is a bit slow and elementary but I liked its characters and found it to be entertaining enough to hold my interest. Its high definition debut on Blu-ray from Warner/New Line isn't among the best that we have seen from them but it generally offers decent audio/video quality. The bonus supplements revolve around the novel and its author which should be of interest fans. Give it a rent.
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