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Science Fiction - Mirrormask

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Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon
Written by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Dave McKean
Sony Home Entertainment 2006
104 minutes plus extras

MirrorMask is a visually stunning film version of Neil Gaiman’s vision. The author of Princess Mononoke, The Sandman, American Gods is brilliantly served in this Jim Henson Company production directed by Dave McKean. Those familiar with the illustrated stories by Neil Gaiman will immediately notice how often MirrorMask borrows from comic book art in its scenes. This modern version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass stars Stephanie Leonidas as Helena, a young girl who dreams of running away from the circus to the real world.

MirrorMask is the kind of movie you will want to watch a few times just to savor its visuals. There is so much going on the screen yet all of these visual pyrotechnics never get in the way of the first rule of movie making: tell a good story. MirrorMask is not the kind of fantasy movie DVD you can pop in the DVD player and sit back and relax. It actually demands all of your attention and involvement.

When Helena’s mother collapses after a performance and sent to the hospital, Helena is sent to live at her grandmother’s while her father tries to save his circus. No one knows what is wrong with Helena’s mother and right before going to sleep Helena has a vision of her mother dying. Immediately after that she finds herself in a Dreamworld where everyone wears a mask –how else can people tell how you feel?—and where the White Queen is in a deep sleep while the forces of darkness are slowly taking over this strange, new world. When Helena discovers the White Queen’s sleep is parallel to her mother’s strange illness and coma she decides to go looking for the talisman that will wake the White Queen and stop the forces of darkness from taking over. Helena’s quest for the talisman takes her to a series of very strange worlds all based on drawings she has made.

MirrorMask is a brilliant and brilliantly balanced mixture of comedia del arte, animation, puppetry, computer animation, live action, and probably a few other film techniques thrown in for good measure. This is a movie adults and young teens up can definitely enjoy together. MirrorMask is not, however, for the very young or easily scared as there are a few nightmarish scenes here and there. Still, you might want a young person with you at times to get their take on what is going on for they surely will see MirrorMask differently. This is also one of those rare movies where the hero is a young girl so this will definitely please parents whose daughters cannot find much to enjoy in fantasy movies.

Special features include the usual writer and director commentary, talks with Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, a bit on the genesis of MirrorMask, cast and crew interviews, time lapse photography of a day’s shooting, a few behind the scenes how’d they do that bits about the monkeybirds and giants, and bits of a Q & A from the San Diego Con.

MirrorMask is a brilliant fantasy DVD.

This movie is also now available as part of the Jim Henson's Fantasy Film Collection that also includes Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.

Richard Lanoie

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