Reading the classics aloud to his daughter seems like a logical activity for Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser), a book restorer who loves to search through ancient texts and dusty novels. But Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) can’t remember ever hearing her father read to her, although he has instilled in her his love of literature.
Following her dad from one spot to the next as he searches for rare and exotic volumes around the world has become a way of life for Meggie. Then one day, the pair is accosted by a strange man outside of an antiquarian bookshop in a tiny European village. Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) introduces himself as an old friend of her father’s, but it is obvious to Meggie that this is anything but an amicable meeting between the adults. Before she knows what is happening, the girl, her father and her great-aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) are roughly hustled off to a remote castle in the mountains and locked in a dreary dungeon with all kinds of strange and magical beasts. That’s when Meggie discovers her father is a “silvertongue” and has the unique ability to read characters out of a story.
While some of the fictional beings, like Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and his henchmen (Steve Speirs, Matt King, Jamie Foreman and Stephen Graham) have embraced their new surroundings in the real world, Dustfinger is eager to return to his role inside the pages of Inkheart. However Mo’s promise to recite the words that will put the fire-eating Dustfinger back in his tale is jeopardized when Capricorn snatches Meggie from her dad and holds her as a hostage in his dark scheme to overthrow the countryside.
The movie, based on a book by the same name, is full of gun-toting soldiers and thugs who frequently threaten their prisoners, often with knives and swords. One man has his arm slashed during an encounter with an angry captor and another bears the scars left by a blade. Although the characters face many moments of peril, including a tornado from the Wizard of Oz that descends on the castle, Meggie, who was abandoned as an infant by her mother (Sienna Guillory), fears losing her father the most.
While many scenes will likely be too intense for very young viewers, this movie, packed with whispering tomes and colorful secondary figures, is aimed at older children who won’t suffer from nightmares after viewing the frightening adventures portrayed on screen. Luckily, the script also depicts a strong, young heroine and other engaging characters that use the power of the written word to combat the evil intentions of others and ink their own happy ending to the story of their lives.