Mortimer ‘Mo’ Flochart (Brendan Fraser) is a ‘silver tongue’, someone who can bring a story to life simply by reading the words. He is unaware of his gift until the night his wife disappears. She is sucked into the pages of Inkheart at the same time as numerous villains are sucked out. Mo will spend the next decade travelling the globe, searching for a copy of this very rare book in the hope of reading his wife out again. At the same time, he tries to keep one step ahead of the fictional characters who are hunting for him and his daughter Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett).
At long last, in a small village in the Alps, Mo discovers an old bookshop. In the dusty back rooms on a long forgotten shelf, he finds what he has been searching for. At that very moment Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), who had been read out of the story when Mo’s wife disappeared, finds Mo. When Mo refuses to help him by reading him back into the pages of the book, Dustfinger enlists the help of Capricorn (Andy Serkis), an evil, callous man who thinks little of life and will do anything to get what he wants. Together these fictional forces track Meggie and Mo to the home of Meggie’s great aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren), who lives on a private estate in Italy.
The family is ambushed and taken hostage in a secluded castle fortress high in the mountains, where Capricorn has his army of hardened criminals. They are imprisoned there until Dustfinger realises that Capricorn will not help him. He also realises that Resa (Sienna Guillory), the beautiful, mute kitchen maid, is in fact Mo’s wife.
Dustfinger helps Mo and his family escape but leaves Resa behind as his personal insurance. He does not tell Mo about her existence until after they have escaped and found another copy of the book. Mo immediately heads back to the mountain fortress in a bid to rescue Resa. His plan goes awry when Capricorn kidnaps Meggie.
Ultimately, it is up to Meggie to save them all from certain death and to send the storybook characters back to where they belong.
The supernatural; separation from a parent
There is some violence in this movie. For example:
- Mo pushes Dustfinger into a wall to escape from him.
- One of the henchmen puts a knife to Mo’s throat. He also slices him three times across the arm.
- The henchmen knock Mo unconscious while Meggie watches. They then kidnap the family at gunpoint.
- Capricorn forces Mo to read by threatening Meggie.
- The boy who falls out of the story of ‘The Arabian Nights’ is told that he will be fed to a crocodile. This doesn’t happen.
- The movie contains frequent fighting, especially when Capricorn’s men are involved. Handguns, rifles, machine guns, spears, knives and swords are all used to threaten, wound, harm or kill at various points throughout the movie.
- Dustfinger’s ferret grabs a thug’s lucky charm. The thug enters the crypt where Dustfinger is being held prisoner to get the charm back. Dustfinger curses him, and Meggie uses a human bone to whack the thug over the head.
- Meggie is forced to read a passage from Inkheart that will transfer a smoky monster with fiery eyes and mouth into the world, unleashing untold pain and terror. The swirling monster then comes towards the cage in which Resa is locked, looking as though he is ready to devour her.
- Dustfinger and another man knock out two of Capricorn’s thugs. They then grab containers of petrol, douse the castle’s walls and furnishings, and set the place alight.
- Mo and Capricorn fight with lots of punching and throwing. Elinor rides into the scene on a white unicorn, having set all of the hostages free. The unusual band of centaurs and flying monkeys help attack Capricorn’s men.
- Meggie reads the destruction of Capricorn and watches as her words are fulfilled. He turns to ash, his dust blowing away with the wind.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- The Shadow is an evil dark apparition that blocks out the sun and is ready to devour everyone, including Meggie’s mother. He is made of black smoke and looks truly fearsome. He is accompanied by loud, suspenseful and intense music.
- Many of the evil henchmen in the film look very frightening and have words tattooed across their faces.
- Meggie is kidnapped twice. At one point, she is in tears when she sees her mother as a prisoner. Capricorn and his men threaten to kill her mother if she will not read. Meggie is then dragged away from her mother while they both scream for each other.
- Before Meggie is abducted, Dustfinger is watching the house from the shadows. He appears to be both sinister and menacing. The image is very creepy.
- Before Meggie learns that she is a silver tongue, she can hear voices whispering through the darkness. The scenes are dark and suspenseful. She is frightened as she tries to understand where the raspy, insistent whispers are coming from.
- Capricorn’s men attack and cut Mo in front of Meggie, knocking him unconscious.
- Mo reads about a tornado from the Wizard of Oz, and the castle and its environs are caught up in the storm. The characters must dodge flying debris. They narrowly miss Dorothy’s house, which falls right in front of their speeding truck.
Some of the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above might scare children in this age group.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
None of concern
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- An old, witch-like hag is asleep, wearing an 18th-century-style dress. A ferret must collect a key that she has tucked into her bosom. There is a close-up of her cleavage.
- While Mo reads ‘The Arabian Nights’, some transparently clad belly-dancers with exposed midriffs dance in the background.
- There are water nymphs in one story, and we briefly see three women in wet, clingy clothing.
None of concern
This movie contains some mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Inkheart is a fantasy adventure containing frequent action and some beautiful scenery. Although this is not a film for younger children, many children will probably want to see it.
The main messages from this movie are that nothing is impossible and that everyone writes their own destiny. Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with your children include honour, truthfulness and self-belief.
This movie could also give you the opportunity to discuss with your children certain issues and their real-life consequences. For example, you might like to discuss:
- the disappearance of a parent
- using violence to get what you want
- the power of the written word
- deceitfulness and dishonesty.