Ink (2009)

June 1, 2010
I've noticed that the sci-fi fantasy genre has gotten particularly large during the past decade. With contenders and authors like Neil Gaiman, for instance, works like Mirrormask and The Sandman have established themselves to be huge cult hits. It's only natural that big hits will inspire indie filmmakers, but the end result of this film is bittersweet. While it shows creativity and slick visuals, it lacks a mature story and any form of original characterization.

In Ink, we're presented with the mythology of the world's hidden protectors and destroyers. The protectors, or Storytellers, are the beings dedicated to maintaining harmony throughout the world by filling the world's people with good dreams during their long sleeping nights. The Assembly, on the other hand, are a twisted group of Incubi that feed on the fear and devastation of human life by throwing people into nightmares and forcing bad memories upon them. Once the film introduces this concept to us, we soon witness the kidnapping of an eight-year-old girl by a lost soul, Ink, who wishes to become one of the Assembly. With her soul abducted, the young girl's body lies near death's door and her father, already a torn and confused man, is struggling to deal with what to do next.

In terms of creativity, the film certainly succeeds. The world's original, fascinating, and the concept of "dream warriors", if you will, is pretty interesting. I especially liked the Assembly members, as their dark shades and 'twitchy' face-plates made for aesthetically-pleasing and atmospheric individuals.

As creative as the film is, however, the execution is what brings about Ink's downfall. The concept's there, but the characters meant to drive it are shallow, boring, and otherwise cliche. They aren't just archetypes, but they're the most overused and cliche ones in the book. It's almost like watching a teenage kid's bad Final Fantasy fanfic. Not only are the characters completely uninteresting, but the script they're working with doesn't help. Filled to the brim with corny and overly melodramatic lines, it's just embarrassing to listen to these people talk to each other.

The visuals are a mixed bag for me. The environments have a nice chic, especially the areas inhabited by the Assembly, and do provide some mood to the film. It's nicely shot and the cinematography is impressive for a low-budget film like this. The costumes, however, look absolutely *terrible*. The only decent costumes belong to Ink and the Assembly members, with the rest either looking like bad cosplay costumes or something that was just pulled out of the mall. They look ridiculous for a fantasy film, and the poor acting doesn't necessarily help matters either.

However, despite how predictable the film is (especially the ending), Ink still manages to be heartwarming for what it does right. The themes behind the film's ideas are admirable, making them easy for an audience to connect with them.

Overall, Ink is only a so-so film. It's got creativity, nice visuals, and heart, but it's marred by a bad script, uninteresting and cliched characters, and dreadful amateurish mistakes.

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