Since the success of Harry Potter, film makers have cast their beady eyes over children's literature, so it is no surprise to learn that Inkheart by Cornelia Funke has been released as a movie. And for once, I am saying that the movie version is an improvement, and for all the reasons I suspected when I read the book.

The book Inkheart purported to be about Meggie, who goes on an adventure with her father, her aunt and a slew of characters who have come to life from a children's book. Unfortunately, Funke tells you a great deal more about these other characters than she does about Meggie, who remains shadowy throughout. Fortunately Eliza Bennet does a better job of bringing Meggie to life.

Meggie's father, Mo ‘Silvertongue’ Folchart, is played by the charming and irresistible Brendan Fraser, but it’s not a part where he shines in his usual fashion. Mo is a book binder with the ability to bring to life characters from a book when he reads aloud. One night he is visited by a strange man called Dustfinger, (the inimitable Paul Bettany), and next day Mo and Meggie head off to her Great Aunt Elinor, a fanatical book collector. Meggie has never found a real home, or had a chance to make friends.

Mo is on the run from Capricorn, a black-hearted (get it?) villain who wants a book that Mo has in his possession. In the book, Meggie simply didn't cut the mustard as a lead character. She was a bystander, whipped up in events over which she had no control and little chance to change the outcome. All the good stuff went to the other - older - characters. Whenever something exciting happened, or had to be done, Meggie was captured or bustled out of the action in some other way. Mo and the great aunt got all the action.

This simply could not work in a movie, so there have been some radical changes. Instead of being kidnapped and hidden out of the way at the end, she is given her rightful place as the central force in events. Funke didn’t understand that Meggie was the character her readers wanted to succeed - at least director Iain Softley got the point.

The casting is very good - Paul Bettany and Helen Mirren are excellent, and it’s good to see Andy Serkis in his own right as Capricorn. But while it’s an improvement on the book, it’s still a bit of a confusing mish mash, and overall, if it weren’t for Paul Bettany, Inkheart would still be a dead loss.

I paid to view this DVD with my own funds.

The book:
Inkheart (Movie Cover)

The movie:

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