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Blu-ray Review: Inkheart

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2009 5:46 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkInkheart Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Blu-ray
Warner Home Video
106 Minutes

List Price: $35.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

This movie is also available from Amazon on DVD and video on demand (rental or purchase), and from iTunes for rental and purchase.

Available 6/23/2009

Rated PG

Click here for additional movie details, including the full plot summary, cast listing, trailers and videos, photos, reviews of the movie, and links to the official movie web site and more.

  TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
35mm
1080p VC-1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 2.40:1
Audio:

Dolby Digital
DTS Digital
SDDS

Dolby TrueHD
Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Other:  

Movie: BD-50 (x1) BD-J
DVD/Digital Copy: DVD

Disc Contents

  • Upfront Ads - can be skipped (HD, DD 5.1)
    • Blu-ray Promo (1:43)
  • Movie
  • Special Features (HD/SD, 2 channel, VC-1)
    • A Story from the Cast and Crew (HD, 6:36)
    • From Imagination to the Page: How Writers Write (HD, 10:38)
    • Deleted Scenes (SD, 13:36)
    • Eliza Reads to Us (HD, 3:46)
  • BD-Live
    • Extras
      • This section was empty as of the writing of this review.
    • Trailers
      • "Inkheart" on DVD and Blu-ray
      • "Where the Wild Things Are" in theaters
      • "Nature's Greatest Events" on Blu-ray
      • "Casablanca" on Blu-ray
      • "Shorts"
      • "Hairspray"
      • "Mr. Troop Mom"
      • "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
      • "Viva Las Vegas" on Blu-ray
      • "Jailhouse Rock" on Blu-ray
      • "Lego Battles" Video Game

About the Movie

Brendan Fraser is a man with the unlucky ability to bring characters out of the books he reads. Unlucky, because when they come out, someone close by goes in, which is how he lost his wife. Now, he and his daughter are scouring the world looking for a copy of the book he was reading at the time, and they become immersed into all kinds of situations involving characters of the book that are roaming Italy intent on not going back. That is, except for one man with the ability to breathe fire, that just wants to return to his wife and child.

How Does it Look?

Still from the movie (not an actual screenshot)

I didn't have any problems with the picture quality on this disc. Other reviews are mixed on this aspect, but I didn't notice any distracting issues. This may be a result of some people expecting every release on Blu-ray to look shiny and clean or perhaps it's just a higher level of acceptance on my part, but I was happy with how this movie looked.

How Does it Sound?

The Dolby TrueHD lossless audio soundtrack is good but not fantastic. The best scene was near the end when "the shadow" appears, but I didn't notice a lot of discrete sound effects, which seems odd given the subject material and the opportunities for multi-channel action from the soundtrack. Based on some of the reviews, I may have to give this one a closer listen and I'll revise my comments if necessary.

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was disappointed that one was not included here. Sure, it's in the BD-Live section (more on that later), but that windowboxed, stereo, SD content is a poor substitute.

A Story from the Cast and Crew features the cast and crew playing a storytelling game where each fills in a piece of an ongoing story. The video is windowboxed and the content is mildly interesting. At one point, even the dog gets into the act.

From Imagination to the Page: How Writers Write is an interview with novelist Cornelia Funke about her writing process and the process in general. If you really like the book and/or the movie, this may be interesting to you. If not, this is very skippable.

The nine deleted scenes include an alternate opening to the movie and other scenes that flesh out some of the story. The video quality is quite poor, and it's odd that they couldn't have provided them in HD as most other titles do.

Eliza Reads to Us is a segment where the actress who plays Meggie (the daughter) reads a passage from the book that didn't make the movie. She's a good reader, and it's probably the most enjoyable of the extras.

BD-Live

The BD-Live section contains the usual Warner Bros. BD-Live content (as well as the "Coming Soon" features that have been coming soon for quite some time), complete with the still-frustrating interface that makes it difficult to tell which item is selected.

Two days after release, there are no videos listed in the Extras section, which is quite disappointing. I guess the extras that would normally have been placed here were done in time to be included on the disc; leaving nothing for the BD-Live section. It's hard to believe that nothing was available for this section, though.

The "Trailers" section of the BD-Live section contains trailers for a variety of Warner Bros. movies, including one for this movie. Unfortunately, the video and audio quality of most of these downloadable items is poor when compared to the HD content on the disc. The videos load quickly, so that is something, but you'll experience better quality and a wider variety of content by going online to services like Hulu, Quicktime's site, or so many other web sites that deliver video in a variety of formats and quality settings, including 1080p HD.

The trailer for "Where the Wild Things Are" and some others are incorrectly identified with an icon that signifies that it is for the Blu-ray release, or at least I think that's why there would be a blue stripe above the graphic with the Blu-ray logo on it. Since the movie hasn't been released in theaters yet and the trailer is for the theatrical release, the inclusion of the Blu-ray logo is at best misleading and most likely is evidence that someone in charge of the BD-Live server is asleep at the wheel.

The lack of downloadable HD content is disappointing, since HD is the whole purpose of buying Blu-ray discs. If you're going to advertise an HD release on an HD service, wouldn't you make the advertisement also in HD so that you can show off the high quality picture and sound of the format?

All considered, the underwhelming BD-Live section for this title does little to advance the feature or show off its potential. It appears that we'll be waiting longer for Warner Bros. to innovate in this space.

There is a second disc in the form of a standard definition DVD that also contains a Digital Copy. I like the idea of including a standard DVD with Blu-ray movies. This allows people to use the DVD in locations where a Blu-ray player is not available (such as a vehicle). I did not play the DVD to determine picture or sound quality or determine what extras were available.

Fans of the movie might enjoy the digital copy, as it would allow you to download the movie and enjoy it many times on your portable device. By inserting the disc into a Windows PC or Mac, you can obtain a digital copy of the movie for playback on your PSP, PC, Mac, or iPod. I didn't explore this option, so I can't comment on the picture or sound quality. The documentation says that the Digital Copy must be redeemed by 6/23/2010.

Other Aspects

This disc is BD-J formatted, and our PlayStation 3 was not able to support auto-resuming the movie. Bookmarking is not supported.

Conclusion

The critical reviews of this movie are not stellar. Metacritic aggregated a lowly 47 from 28 different critical reviews, and the editorials that accompany some of the Blu-ray reviews listed below aren't the most kind either. However, while I don't think it's on par with other fantasy movies such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, this isn't the same kind of movie and I don't think it's trying to be.

While it's not a great movie, it's not a bad one either. That normally makes it a better rental than a purchase, unless the extras are compelling enough to reward the purchase. In this particular case, the extras on the disc and on the BD-Live section at the time of this writing, do not add significantly to the value of purchasing this title.

However, the fact that Warner Bros. has included a standard definition DVD is promising, and I hope that they begin to do this on more releases in the future. That makes owning the disc a better value, since you had a high definition version for the best viewing experience, and you have the DVD for places you may not have an HD player. If your kids like this movie, you'll appreciate having that second copy to take on trips, to Grandma's house, etc.

If you're not sure about buying this title, put it on your Netflix list or rent it via the Video-on-demand services listed above and check it out for yourself!

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

RentBuy


Check Prices on Amazon.com



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