Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Rob Brydon, Jason Barry
Directed By:
Dave McKean

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 The film originally made a small showing in a few cities and then magically appeared on DVD for those who couldn't see this on the big screen.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.

- - Vane

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