read the book a couple years ago and didn't care for it, so I kind of dragged my feet on seeing the movie. I finally did, and I'm glad I gave it a chance! Because it suited my tastes much better than the book.
Meggie (Eliza Bennett) travels around Europe with her father, Mo (Brendan Fraser), who repairs rare books. When a guy named Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) shows up, Mo and Meggie go on the run, trying to escape a baddie named Capricorn (Andy Serkis). Meggie starts discovering the truth about why her father won't read aloud to her and why her mother disappeared when Meggie was very small.
Mo (Brendan Fraser) has a magical ability to read things and people out of books. As in, if he reads a story out loud, something or someone from the book will appear in the real world. But in exchange, something or someone from the real world goes into the book. This can be funny and innocuous, but it can also be sad or scary.
In both the book and the movie, Dustfinger is definitely my favorite character. In both, he's sad and lonely, lost in a world he desperately wants out of. He's much more helpful and kind in the movie than the book, and they cut out a subplot that bothered me a bit. Win!
In the movie, Mo runs Dustfinger a pretty close second for my interest. Mo here is a caring and protective father who makes his daughter his priority; Mo in the book was distant and closed-off.
Meggie in the movie is curious, but not meddlesome or reckless. She's affectionate and nice, and I liked her a lot. Book Meggie bothered me because she was sulky and selfish, and wished desperately that she could read things and people out of books like Mo, even though she could clearly see that this was a source of trouble and sorrow, not fun.
Capricorn was more fun in the movie, simply because he's played by Andy Serkis. When is Andy Serkis not delightful?
And I want to quick mention Helen Mirren as Elinor and Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio -- they both made me laugh a lot. Elinor loves books, and Fenoglio writes them, and I saw bits of myself in both of them :-) Both were also far nicer and more helpful in the movie than the book.
So it's true -- sometimes, Hamlette likes a movie, but not the book it's based on. Sometimes, movies are an improvement. This is definitely one such.
Is this movie family-friendly? Only for older children, like ten and up maybe? There are a couple of bad words and some scary moments, especially at the end.