Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES II, III & IV • February 4, 2009 Reading aloud can be hazardous in ‘Inkheart’ by Dennis Seuling The intriguing premise of “Inkheart” is that certain persons have a special gift: When they read aloud, they bring characters of fiction into the real world. The downside is that a real human being must be taken into the fictional world for every fictional character that comes into the real world. Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser), a book buyer and restorer, has this ability, and is stalked by a mysterious figure as he and daughter Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) browse through an open-air book market. The stranger is Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a fictional character Mo brought into the real world years earlier who longs to return to his family in the pages of “Inkheart,” a now rare, out-of-print book. When Dustfinger appeared in our world, Mo’s wife, Resa (Sienna Guillory), disappeared into the book’s world. The plot is essentially a quest in which assorted characters combine forces, meet others along the way, and dedicate themselves to a mutually beneficial goal. Of course, as with all quests, this will not be easy. There is a group of fictional folks, under the leadership of Capricorn (Andy Serkis), who have made a very nice life for themselves in the real world, taken up residence in a hillside castle, and have no intention of returning to their fictional world. Brendan Fraser seems to be the go-to guy for movie fantasies: think “The Mummy” franchise and last summer’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” He has always seemed a grown-up with boy-like wonderment. What he lacks in acting chops, he makes up for in earnestness, knowing that at any second fantasy can degenerate into camp. This does actually happen with the character of Elinor Lordan (Helen Mirren), Mo’s aunt, an eccentric, turban-wearing book collector who speaks her mind with little regard for others’ feelings. Initially, the character is used to move the plot along. She disappears for a long time and reappears in the movie’s final third, speeding up the mountainside on a motorbike and later riding a unicorn into a sanitized battle pitting the forces of good against evil. It is difficult to accept the sophisticated Mirren as this exaggerated caricature. Bettany, who is best remembered as the imaginary friend of John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind,” conveys appropriate menace in the film’s early scenes, but also a wistfulness, even a sadness, because of his entrapment in a world that is not his own. Mo (Brendan Fraser) and daughter Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) find real and fictional worlds merging in ‘Inkheart.’ With coupon, not to be combined with any other offer. Exp. 2-28-09 Orders Over $20 New Year’s Specials $2 off $5 off $10 off With coupon, not to be combined with any other offer. Exp. 2-28-09 Bennett plays Meggie not as a starryeyed innocent but as a mature, intelligent young woman. Her Meggie is not just along for the ride. She participates in decision making, is in the midst of the action rather than on the sidelines, and exhibits many qualities of the movie heroine. She helps shore up the proceedings with her downto-earth, focused performance. Even with the fantasy element, the movie limps along, predictable all the way. There are cinema fantasies that are far more effective. “The Wizard of Oz” still enchants viewers after all these years, (There is an interesting homage to that classic in “Inkheart,” incidentally.) “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was the movie without equal for a whole generation. More recently, the “Harry Potter” movies have shown how a solid script, engaging characters, and state-of-the-art special effects can combine to produce genuinely thrilling fantasy adventures. Rated PG, “Inkheart” builds to an anticipated climax, but loses dramatic steam before the final credits roll. Orders Over $50 With coupon, not to be combined with any other offer. Exp. 2-28-09 Orders Over $90 We Deliver $25 min. order, dinner only SAKURA-BANA JAPANESE SEAFOOD CUISINE Monday Closed Tuesday - Thursday Lunch 11:45 - 2:30 Dinner 5:30 - 10:00 Friday and Saturday Lunch 11:45 - 2:30 Dinner 5:15 - 10:15 Sunday Dinner Only 5:00 - 9:30 43 Franklin Avenue, Ridgewood • 201-447-6525 • #1 German Restaurant in Bergen & Passaic Counties! KIRKERS WINTER SCHNITZEL-FEST February 5,6,7 & 9 8 Different Schnitzels, Sauerbraten, German Sausages, Fresh Seafood, Prime Rib & Steaks... Something for everyone...including a selection of “smaller plates for the not so hungry” Lunch, New Early Dining & Dinner Menus! German Beers & Wines • Martinis • Regular Menu Also Available 237 Diamond Bridge Ave, Hawthorne • 973-427-7700 • All Major Credit Cards Accepted • Open Mon - Sat • Noon til 11:30 pm