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A 2005 fantasy film directed by artist Dave McKean and written by Neil Gaiman.

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Visually Stunning, But Lacks Character.

  • Dec 9, 2007
The Jim Henson Company teamed together with Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman to bring to life this fantastical tale about a young girl, named Helena (Stephanie Leonidas),struggling into maturity. Helena is a part of a family of circus performers. Even though she spends her free time thinking about fantasy worlds, Helena longs to have a more normal teenage life away from the circus. After a terrible fight with her parents, her mother (Gina McKee) grows very ill and Helena blames herself for her mother's sudden illness. On the evening of her mother's surgery Helena seems to dream herself into a strange world where all the inhabitants wear masks to hide their true selves. The world is in terrible trouble and is being swallowed by a black nothing apparently because of a conflict between the Queen of Light and the Queen of Shadows. The Queen of Light is deathly ill and can only be healed if Helena retrieves an object known as the Mirrormask from the Queen of Shadows. The world is full of stunning beauty and vivid images, including tethered floating giants, moving books, and (my favorite characters in the entire movie) monkey birds. Helena initially believes that the experience is just a dream, but learns that her journey is possibly something much, much more.

Visually speaking, MIRRORMASK is a remarkable film. The film had a relatively small budget, yet there are some things in the film that are more visually astounding in my opinion than in many big-budget fantasy epic films. The music in the film is also very impressive; I was enchanted so much by the score that I find myself listening to parts of the soundtrack in my mind weeks after I had seen the film. Yet, that's pretty much all MIRRORMASK is. The characters are not very well developed and the pacing of the story is incredibly slow. The movie combines elements from two other Jim Henson Company films, THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABYRINTH as well as elements from THE NEVERENDING STORY. However, those films succeed on a level that MIRROMASK does not because the audience actually cares about the characters in those movies.

It's disappointing because MIRRORMASK could have been such a great movie. I don't think there are too many people who will enjoy watching this movie. I'd recommend it for fans of Neil Gaiman, for people who have to see every Jim Henson Company movie, and for film fans (because of the visual elements).

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September 24, 2010
I very much agree with your thoughts (see my own review). This movie, to me, is the perfect proof that movies aren't JUST a visual medium. They need story and character to REALLY draw you in.
September 24, 2010
Thanks. You had a nice review, too. I'm all about story, whether it's a book or movie.
More MirrorMask reviews
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
I loved this. I want to watch it again.
review by . December 23, 2008
Title sequence
There are few comic book writers in the world that are more respected than master storyteller Neil Gaiman, whose combination of whimsical fantasy, dark satire, and comedic absurdism brought him to the forefront of the "British invasion" of comic books in the 1980s. Gaiman's collaborations with celebrated artist/writer, Dave McKean have resulted in some truly unique works, but perhaps their most ambitious collaborative effort is the hallucinatory fantasy film MirrorMask.   …
review by . October 26, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Acting, visuals, story, music - I loved it all     Cons: Good heavens - what if it was the chicken?!     The Bottom Line: Join the little cult of Mirrormask fans.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. Just short of a year ago, I read a review about a movie called Mirrormask. Just like when I’d read a review of a book called Coraline by Neil Gaiman, after realizing the creators were the same …
review by . March 12, 2006
posted in Screen Gems
"Mirrormask" is probably not a movie for everyone. It's not simple, straightforward, and it doesn't offer a familiar story or a comfortable visual style. It does not pander. It is a rich, complex, sometimes troubled fantasy that can truly be enjoyed by the whole family, which doesn't mean that it is safe for kids to watch and tolerable for adults -- it means that both kids and adults can find something here to grab onto and explore.    Fans of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean should …
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About this movie


Reminiscent of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and LABYRINTH, MIRRORMASK is a fantasy tale of an intelligent young girl on a journey through a magical world. It is also a visually astounding piece of filmmaking, updating the fairy-tale quest in a coming-of-age story imbued with dark beauty. Written by Neil Gaiman (SANDMAN) and directed by frequent collaborator and illustrator Dave McKean, the film mixes live action and animation, and manages to keep the graphic novelists' aesthetic largely intact: the frames are full of weirdly-skewed perspectives, foggy patches, and mismatched textures that appear grandly decayed. Stephanie Leonidas plays Helena, a young girl who juggles in her father's circus, but longs for a "normal" life. She spends her free time drawing elaborate, fantastical black-and-white pictures which cover every surface of her bedroom. One night, after an argument with her mother (Gina McKee) during which Helena lets fly some rather painful pronouncements, Mom falls ill with an unspecified affliction. As ...
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Director: Dave McKean
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: September 30, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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The Best Fantasy Films, Part I


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