Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rant or Rave: Inkheart

It is a truism that movies from books are never as good as the book. There are a few that come close, The Lord of the Rings being the shining example, but even there the books outstrip the movies despite the excellence of the films. Inkheart is not the exception to the rule. I will throw out a big rave for the book-- it is an intriguing and extremely well-written book-- but the movie... not so much. As a frame of reference, the key and intriguing plot device for the book and its sequels is the ability of a few rare individuals to actually read things out of a book-- people, animals, items, etc.

Actually, Inkheart's not a bad movie, so I wouldn't say I was ranting against it. Actually, it's a rather entertaining movie, which I can say with some confidence because I saw it without having read the book and thought it was pretty good. But its downfall is trying to be a film version of an extremely good, somewhat iconic book. Were the movie a standalone creation it would be fairly entertaining, reasonably well crafted and pretty well acted.

But it IS based on a book, yet some of the key bits in the movie NEVER happen in the book and, in fact, actually run counter to what happens in the book. The chief example of this (spoiler alert for the movie) is when, in the movie, one of the main characters reads aloud from The Wizard of Oz and brings the tornado OUT of the book, thereby freeing them from captivity in a dangerous and spectacular manner. It's a good scene and fun to watch.

It is also completely and without exception NOT in the book, Inkheart. Nothing remotely like this is in the book. So, it's a bit of stretch to have a key event in the movie center on something that is made up out of whole cloth.

So, best case scenario, watch the movie before reading the book. This is what I did and I found the movie entertaining, though certainly not great. Fun and entertaining. Then read the book and appreciate just how much better it is than the movie. Alternatively, if you have already read the book but not seen the movie, check it out but realize going in that it is NOT going to be a visual rendition of the book you love so much as it is a fun story utilizing many of the same elements of the book you love.

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