Based on a children's novel, Inkheart takes a tale about the power and limitless imagination of books and translates it into a film with a limited budget that will struggle to wow audiences spoiled by Harry Potter.

Based on a children's novel, Inkheart takes a tale about the power and limitless imagination of books and translates it into a film with a limited budget that will struggle to wow audiences spoiled by Harry Potter.

Mo Folcher (Brendan Fraser) shares a love of books with 12-year-old daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett), yet he never reads her bedtime stories. He has a good reason. When Mo reads a book aloud, he brings its characters to life, and occasionally transplants someone from this world into the book.

Mo's secret is revealed to his daughter by Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a released character longing to return to his book world. Our heroes cross paths with an eccentric aunt (Helen Mirren), a more eccentric author (Jim Broadbent) and unfortunately named baddie Capricorn (Andy Serkis).

Inkheart has an intriguing fantasy-to-reality pitch, but it nearly capsizes when the storytelling hits choppy waters. Director Iain Softley avoids relying on CGI, but the result sometimes feels a bit too small. The cast is quite charming, though the generally likable Fraser could have used an injection of humor into his character.

There's an imaginative story here, and since the book is part of a trilogy, maybe another director can execute another chapter better. At least this one made me want to pick up a book.