Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Rob Brydon, Jason
Written by Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and directed by
graphic designer/artist Dave McKean, Mirrormask is
a unique looking tale that borrows a lot of themes and elements
from older films and stories that feature alternate worlds
to explore (Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth and Alice
in Wonderland come to mind immediately). The film originally
made a small showing in a few cities and then magically appeared
on DVD for those who couldn't see this on the big screen.
It's a shame, really, as I can image this looked wonderful
in the theaters.
The movie begins with Helena as a performer in her father's
circus. After her mother falls ill, she finds herself transported
to a magical world with a guide by the name of Valentine to
help her figure why she's in this new world at all. In this
unique land, there was a balance between the light and dark
sides of the land, but the queen of the light side is in a
deep slumber and it seems everyone is looking for the dark-side
princess, who looks eerily similar to Helena.
It doesn't take Helena long to figure out that she's in a
fictional world she created herself through the sketches postered
on her bedroom walls. But, when she looks through a window
and sees what looks like herself in her bedroom, Helena knows
she must find a way to return home.
Stylistically, Mirrormask is unique and fits well
into McKean's previous visual efforts. His designs for many
of the characters and beasts stand out as brilliant and look
wonderful to behold. As an artist whose always been at the
forefront of graphic novels, McKean's style translates well
in this offbeat tale. It's easy to watch this and state how
it feels like a graphic novel come to life.
From a story standpoint, I would say the Mirrormask
is a bit under-whelming. The opening portion of the movie
is pretty boring and can be offsetting if you don't have some
patience. A lot of the story is taken on faith and some of
the events just happen without much reason or explanation.
Also, for a story that borrows so much from other similar
stories, I really wish there had been a much deeper interaction
between the characters.
Musically, Mirrormask features a unique sampling of
tracks that really do a nice job of setting the tone for this
world. The jazz tune that ushers Helena's first viewing of
the fictional world is catchy and fun.
If you like Dave McKean's work, then by all means rent this
flick. I wouldn't say that this is one of Gaiman's better
tales, but it manages well without excelling. The story could
have been stronger and it has a pretty predictable resolution,
but the locations and creatures can keep you pretty entertained.