Monday, 29 December 2008

Out On To The Battlefield

Being ill has totally ruined my training schedule, I should have been on the bike today but instead, I'm (whisper it) in the car. It also means I'm obviously not as fit and healthy as I thought I was. I'd also hoped to fit a swim or two in somewhere this week but no such luck. If everyone is as ill as I am, as appears to be the case, then the council will be shutting all the leisure centres again next year claiming no one used them this year. We've all been too ill.

It's cold at work with the heating having been off for four days, so I'm sure they're all thankful for me coming in and warming the place up with the high temperature I have. Mine you, everyone else seems to be the same

After Derby's defeat yesterday Paul Jewell resigned. Which is odd, I didn't have him down as a quitter. No idea how they're going to find anyone better qualified to take over. If someone with the record of Jewell can't hack it then who can.

I reckon our Chairman Adam Pearson fancies the job himself. I expect him to keep the current assistant Chris Hutchings on in the driver seat until the end of the season with Pearson in the backseat.

Predictably, there's no sandwich vans serving Pride Park today, despite the fact there are a surprisingly high number of offices occupied near us. The sandwich shops obviously can't be feeling the crunch then or they'd be out mopping up what business there was.

I look in our fridge to see what I have in stock for lunch, not much, a few yoghurts that are well out of date but one of those will do for starters. I learnt as an impoverished student never to let anything go to waste and certainly not to let something as trivial as a sell by date get in the way. After all what have you go to lose, if you eat it and it makes you ill, you'll probably be off food for a couple of days, saving even more money. It's a win-win situation.

All the same, I still venture out on to the battlefield that is Sainsbury's. The one bright point of being in the car this morning, was that there's was no traffic on the roads. The reason for this of course is that they're all in Sainsbury's car park and probably have been, since Christmas Eve trying to get out. Yet again there's hardly anyone actually in the store.

In the evening, we go to Broadway to check out 'Inkheart'. They have a beer called Rudolph's Ruin by Springhead, but at 4.2% it's hardly very ruinous. Daughter doesn't seem to like her posh organic cola, which is just fine and means I can steal it, to take into the cinema to oil my throat. Don't you just hate it when there's someone coughing during the film, spoiling everyone's enjoyment.

Well here's my review of 'Inkheart'. Hmmmm. Says it all really. Oh go on then I'll elaborate. It's the second film this week that I've seen that's had an excellent idea but badly executed (re: Hancock).

Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser) has the gift of a 'silver tongue', which means not that he can charm the pants off the ladies but that he has the skill to make characters in books come alive as he reads the story.

Nine years ago, he carelessly lost his wife Resa (Sienna Guillory), presumably short for Theresa, this way as he was reading to his daughter Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett) from the book 'Inkheart'. His 'gift' also causes real people to disappear into the book, whilst leaving the characters from 'Inkheart' roaming the real world, which they kind of grow to like.

Mo claims he's searched long and hard for another copy of this rare book, nine years or so, whilst travelling all over the world in the guise of a 'Book Doctor'. Hmmm, sounds like he's been living it up a bit to me. He's probably privately, been reading Princess Leia out of Star Wars whilst catching up with Catwoman every other Sunday. Well you would wouldn't you.

I mean surely he's heard of 'Google' or 'ebay' or could he not just have reached for a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and got Holmes and Watson in on the case? Oh I should have been a script writer.

When he finally finds the book in the Italian Alps, one of its characters Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) stops him in the street to try to persuade Mo to read him back into the book, he, for one, wants to go home. Meanwhile the evil gang lord from the book, Capricorn (Andy Serkis), has no wish to return and pursues Mo.

They all end up locked away in Capricorn's castle where Capricorn wants Mo to read money and other riches out of books for him. He's been employing a less skilled 'silver tongue' which means they have amassed quite a zoo of imperfectly read-out characters. The story mentions loads of great books along the way but regrettably doesn't develop this part of the story.

All this time, Mo has kept his powers secret from his daughter but whilst they are locked up with the crocodile from Peter Pan ticking away next door, he goes for an explanation. Now I know its an odd request to demand realism in a fantasy movie but if your Father told you such a weird secret, that he read some weirdoes out of a book in exchange for your Mother, how would you react? Wouldn't you instantly think, oh that explains everything... or think perhaps he was joking, mad, drunk or perhaps all three? Then to top it all, it turns out that Meggie has the same gift as her father but she just hasn't noticed...

It comes down to Dustfinger to rescue them with the help of a lad called Farid who fell out of 'Arabian Nights' or was it 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves' and they all search out the author of the book (Jim Broadbent) for another copy and end up with the manuscript.

At the finish, with them all recaptured, Capricorn forces Meggie to read something awful called the 'Shadow' out of the book whilst the author is hurriedly trying to rewrite the ending. For God's sake somebody write and read anything, nobody said it had to be a good book. In the end it's down to Toto the dog from the Wizard Of Oz to deliver the new page to the Meggie, without eating it, MD couldn't have managed that, and listen girl. When you're reading the new ending and it's clearly working, helping to get rid of the bad guys, rescue your friends and your family, what is the last thing you should do... durrr stop reading. Silly girl.

It's an alright film but it gets progressively messier as it goes on. It's a shame, there are some good special effects, the baddies are superb and there's some decent acting, although I thought Mo was played by a rubber dummy but the others disagreed, assured me it was human and that he did ok. It also boasts the acting skills of Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren but both their parts are mainly irrelevant to the story.

The film is based on the first book of a trilogy and probably leaves itself open 'to be continued'. The last film to attempt to start a franchise like that was, oh yes, 'The Golden Compass'. At least its better than that.

Suddenly at the end, out of nowhere, there's some love interest between Farid and Meggie. Which just highlights the lack of character development there's been throughout the film. There wasn't any chemistry between any of the other cast, not even Mo with his Daughter and certainly not with his wife. Whom they find and eventually free. She's spent the last nine years in what appears to be near slavery and has also gone mute, so perhaps that's why they're so estranged. Bet you wish you hadn't spent so much time with Princess Leia now eh Mo?

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