Wednesday, January 28, 2009

inkheart & bedtime stories

i was in kl over the weekend to ease my mind. besides its CNY break. on the other hand, i really needed a break for myself as this new year 2009' kinda tough; hence the silence here for a while. anyhow i managed to catch up some great movies with a friend at klcc though . anyone saw us :)

hollywood filmmakers often get caught up in trends. a hot trend these days is using best-selling books aimed at young readers as the basis for their movies. "twilight," "the golden compass" and all of the "harry potter" films are just a few examples.

those films that best capture the spirit of the books have become hits. the others end up floundering because they capture the words but not the essence of the book. you can add "inkheart" to the growing list of book-based movies that falter in their efforts.

the latest sword-and-silliness adventure for the always likable brendan fraser is based on the popular book by german author cornelia funke. fraser plays mortimer folchart, a man with an interesting ability. whatever he reads comes to life. literary guests in this world range from the flying monkeys of "the wizard of oz" to the long-locked rapunzel.

the downside is that if he reads a fictional character into the real world, a real person ends up in the fictional world. mor finds out this painful truth when his wife is sent into one of the literary worlds. this sends mor on a long quest to save his wife. the only obstacle is capricorn, an evil villain read into the world. he wants to use mor's power to rule the real world.

the director manages to construct an interesting start to his film. he wrings tension out of the attempts by capricorn to capture mor and his young daughter, meggie. the rather standard chase scenes are elevated by the beautiful european landscape that is the backdrop for the film.

fraser has played the likable reluctant hero so many times he probably qualifies for a patent on the role. the surprise is the literary character who longs to just return to the pages where he resides with his wife and family. in a film that is more about flash than substance, bettany turns in a compelling and touching performance.

all of these elements get trumped when the script takes a left turn.

the basic rule that only things read can come to life changes. it is a switch in the basic premise to make the ending happen. an audience never should be asked to embrace a well-defined concept and then be told in the final moments there are gray edges.

"inkheart" also suffers from a frugality of fictional characters. any and all literary characters can be read into the real world. but there are only a handful in the film. this leaves the movie feeling a little thin.

softley (director) never manages to capture the magic that made the book so popular.

and that means watching "inkheart" is like reading the cliffs notes of a famous novel. all of the key elements are there. there's just no real substance.

* * * * *

while on the previous sunday, i took puteri and megat to kinta city to watch bedtime stories, funniest movie ever. lots of action, keeps you woke up. we laughed our heads off.

if you look closely at bedtime stories, it is almost possible to see how the cast and crew were making up the movie as it went along. there's certainly no evidence of a script. it's just a series of nonsensical events that at times are anchored by reality and at other times are pure fantasy. they should have chosen one and stuck with it.

no one would notice this lack of direction if the movie were at least funny.

adam sandler plays the latest in his long line of lovable losers. this one is skeeter bronson, a hotel handyman (owh... how movies with hotel scene always remind me of my wonderful experiences there) who longs for the day he will be in charge. bronson discovers, when he must watch his niece and nephew for a week, that elements of his made-up bedtime stories come true the next day. he decides to use this gift to get the job he has wanted for many years.

director adam shankman should stick to musicals like hairspray. that format enables him to take the action over the top without looking stupid.