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

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Fantasy, Imagination, and Wonder

  • Mar 12, 2006
"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 be well-pleased by their newest collaboration in "Mirrormask." Gaiman's writing is as sharp and clever as ever, and McKean's style of visual storytelling is wonderful to behold in the medium of film. For those new to the impressive creative engine that McKean and Gaiman represent...let me just say that you're in for a treat. These guys do great work together, and with "Mirrormask" they're at the top of their game.

Film is a collaborative medium, and Gaiman and McKean were not the only impressive talents here. 15 different animators applied their abilities to different pieces of the film, and it's amazing how well it all comes together. The animation (which takes a featured role for much of the film) is unique and starkly beautiful. I've seen it three times now, and each viewing reveals some hidden detail or nuance in the animation that I hadn't noticed before. And all of it's just wonderful to look at.

The actors also turn in universally strong performances. Highlights were Gina McKee as...well, in multiple roles, each played to perfection, and Jason Barry as the lovable rogue Valentine. The real star of the show, though, is Stephanie Leonidas, who turns in an amazing performance as Helena, a very modern teenage girl with a troubled family, caught up in a dark Wonderland of new experiences. She brings an emotional depth and believability to her role that is very rare in most fantasy film, or movies in general.

The DVD extras are perfect for those of us who are interested in the creative process of the film, and include a poster gallery for several iterations of posters for the film, a lengthy "Making of Mirrormask" segment including interviews with Gaiman, McKean, cast and crew, and selections from a Q&A session at the San Diego Comic Convention, and best of all, a full commentary track featuring Gaiman and McKean talking about the process of making the film. The commentary track is actually well worth the time it takes to listen to it, just for the insights it provides in how a movie like this can (and maybe should) be made on a very limited budget and in a relatively small time frame.

"Mirrormask," like all stories of this type, owes a measure of debt to other storytellers: C.S. Lewis for the Narnia books, or Lewis Carroll for his tales of Alice and Wonderland. But what really sets "Mirrormask" apart from there is how the story is told, and the uniquely modern themes it is able to express as a result. Visually it is a rich, beautiful film, and it has an imaginative scope that is hard to match. It is rare to find a family film that can really captivate everyone, but "Mirrormask" does that job perfectly.

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September 28, 2010
It simply couldn't get any better.
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 . December 09, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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 …
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Rich Stoehr ()
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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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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