I took Daughter Number 1 to see Inkheart this past Saturday. I didn't knoww a lot about the story going into it (DN1 has read the first book and most of Inkspell - she's stalled in that though, don't know why, but she put it down to read the Maximum Ride series). DN1 had told me some things, I had some very basic ideas, but didn't know where things would be going and that's generally how I like to be going into a movie. For this one, though, I wish I would have read the book first. There just seemed to be a lot going on that would have been more understandable if I'd read the book.
The movie is relatively well self-contained, but it's clumsy. You don't get a feel for the characters before the story starts dashing them off to danger and then you're introduced to so many different characters and situations that you're left feeling a bit left behind. I understand that this is an action flick and one geared toward a younger audience, but even Harry Potter spent sufficient time setting up character motivation. Inkheart doesn't. I've just started reading the book and am already beginning to understand some of the characters better than I did after seeing the film.
However, this is not to say that Inkheart isn't fun. It is, perhaps too fun or too dashing, while sacrificing some coherency. I read a couple of reviews after seeing the movie and many reviewers are quick to put most of the blame on Brendan Fraser. I don't see that. I am a Fraser fan - yeah, the guy doesn't have great acting chops, but he's fun - and he fits the role pretty well. The problem is that the changes the filmmakers made to the book were unnecessary but the things they cut out were very important to the makeup of the tale.
While Inkheart can be entertaining, I suggest waiting until it hits the discount theater or video. The good thing about seeing it in the theater is that there's a extended preview for the wonderful-looking Coraline.