Tuesday, July 17, 2007



Helena is a young teen, whose parents run a traveling circus that is just barely staying in the black. The circus is her father's dream, and although she is a performer in the troupe, all Helena wants is a real life. When she is not performing, she stays in her trailer drawing picture after picture. her entire wall is covered in pictures, half white paper with black ink, the other half black paper with white ink. Real life catches up very quickly with Helena, when her mother becomes ill and is laid up in a hospital bed.

On the night that Helena's mother is go into surgery, Helena falls asleep anxious to hear the news. When she wakes up though, she finds herself in a dream fantasyland of her own creation. It seems that she has becomes trapped in her own drawings! In her first few minutes in this strange world, she meets and befriends Valentine, and also learns of a terrible disaster that is befalling this land, which is made up of half Light World and half Shadow World. The Shadow World has been creeping into the Light World and is destroying anything it touches. Helena learns that the balance between the two worlds has been put off kilter, and only by finding a magic charm can the balance be corrected. The only problem is no body know what this charm looks like. Helena vows to find the charm, and sets out with Valentine. Together the meet an easily duped Sphinx, a floating giant, the Queen of Darkness and the Queen of Light, before finally discovering that the charm they are looking for is the MirrorMask, and must find its hiding place before it is too late.

This wonderful fantasy adventure will appeal to just about everyone that doesnt have a permanently scowl on their face. It wears its influences clearly on its sleeve - from recent works such as LABYRINTH and THE NEVERENDING STORY (using the main plotline of a before-time-runs-out quest) all the way back to THE WIZARD OF OZ (including Helena trying to get home and the use of actors playing several parts). Neil Gaiman is the master writer of fantasy and mystery that is behind this film, and is the creator many comics books and novels including Sandman and Books Of Magic. His experience with as a visual writer is on display here in fine form. Each character is uniquely imagined and brought to the screen. His narrative focuses the on main character, Helena, so that she becomes relatable to instantly. As she travels on her journey, her dedication to the task at hand becomes commendable, and her self-discovery about herself and the importance of family is inspirational.

British director Dave McKean makes his feature-length debut here, and what a debut it is. MIRRORMASK is certainly one of the more unique films ever to be realized, as it blends computer animation with human counterparts. There are only a few human actors in the film and most of the play multiple roles. All the other characters and creatures are created via the spectrum of all available effects. Most are created via computer animation, but there are also puppets, stop motion and traditional animation used. Once Helena steps into her dream world, each shot becomes filled with a barrage of colorful backgrounds, strange inhabitants and wild cinematography. It is truly an awe-inspiring sight, and will leave a wide smile on your face.

With enough exposure to what should be considered the films core audience of young teens (give or take a few years), this can easily become the nostalgic fantasy of this generation. It is girl-positive, while still being boy-friendly, and the universal story will allow all-ages to enjoy it.


Mitch Emerson said...

This is a fantastic movie that we have already rented twice and I just purchased it for ten bucks on Amazon.

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