I haven't read the book, but if the parts of the movie that work are any indication, I think I want to. If the parts of the movie that don't work are any indication... Well, I hope the book hangs together better.
I liked the movie for it's promise and it's premise: a few people in the world can read things out of stories and make them real in our world, and they retain the characters and abilities they had in their own worlds. One of these people lost his wife when he read something out of a book and she was traded for it, because there always has to be a trade, and for the last nine years, he's been looking for a new copy of the book so he can try reading her out of it. This is awesome.
And then there's Paul Bettany, who is always great, playing a character that should be perfect for him, but because of the screen adaptation? The editing? Something, he motivations are shaky at best and contradictory at worst, and this fun character is all over the damn place and never really changes. His arc is more of a wobbly loop? I want to reedit his part. Badly.
The daughter (Meggie? Maggy?) should have been better, too. A feisty girl who never knew her mother and grew up roaming Europe, who wants to be a writer and is supposed to be good at it? So little of that comes through, because she's mostly crying and being captured. She's so integral to the end, but she never really gets any volition of her own. Even when she's righting hte wrongs, even when she's editing the world for herself, it's because someone else told her to. And that disappoints me. And why is there so little trading / magical recoil when she reads? Does she just do it better, and they forgot to mention the fact, or is that another plot hole?
I do like Alladin the Flying Squirrel, but it's more because he's the only one aware of how cool all this is who isn't a greasy badguy. And where did 'you like her, don't you?' come from? The two minutes they sat next to each other in the car?
Rhyssa is dull. The Aunt is lovely and cranky and colorful, and then has nothing to do, though it looks like they wanted her to like the stuttering reader. Capricorn is not really all that threatening, and overacts. The henchmen are interchangable and disposable. The Shadow looks awesome, probably the best thing in the movie (except maybe the gorgeous settings), but doesn't do much and doesn't manage to convey what, exactly, lets it 'flay the skin off your bones' as was threatened. And if these are the characters the author created, I have trouble believing that it's all that great a book-- and I do so want to believe. Because there's something beautiful about the idea that our favorite worlds could be real, that we could meet our literary children and go on adventures with them, that they can develop lives and opinions of their own, and, best of all, that the sad endings might be different this time around (which is an eternal hope of mine). It makes me sad that it falls short of these good ideas, and then the DVD, at least this one, doesn't even have deleted scenes that might make the plot work better. Or even a scene that shows Dustfinger using his ever-present bag that we decided was holding all the plot-plugs to fill all the plot-holes.
So yeah. The movie has plenty of space for me to rewrite it, which is a plus. But the plot holes that require me to write them are too numerous, which is a minus. The ideas are great, which is a plus. But the character development is either not there, or reduced to one-liners that come from nowhere and don't replace lettin gus experience people changing, which is bad. So I'm going to find the book. And here's hoping there's a director's cut somewhere that makes more sense.
Also, Brendan Frazer obviously sold his soul for eternal youth, and it's getting a little disturbing now that he's started playing adult characters with kids who look roughly the same age. And if he's a great reader, why can't he read more naturally?