Directed by Iain Softley


A father brings characters from books into the real world by reading aloud.

Inkheart “squanders far too much of its magic,” said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Adapted from Cornelia Funke’s best-selling children’s book, the film is just the latest fantasy tale to be given a bland, big-screen treatment. Brendan Fraser plays a father and “silver tongue” who can bring book characters to life simply by reading aloud. His talent becomes a curse when his wife vanishes, presumably turning into a character herself. Attempting to fuse the fantastic with the everyday, Inkheart “aims for a blend of whimsy and tingly suspense, but botches nearly every spell it tries to cast.” The book achieved a “sort of transporting fantasy” that the film never does, said Rene Rodriguez in The Miami Herald. Unable to translate Funke’s complex mythology, director Iain Softley “struggles to keep the story’s pace from flagging” and eventually accelerates the plot to the point of busyness. While Inkheart is impossible to follow, it can be fun to try, said Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. At its best, the film is an “appealing sensory experience, full of imaginative creatures, vibrant colors, and rich textures.”