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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 36.62%
Average: 21.13%
Pretty Bad: 1.41%
Total Crap: 1.41%

7 reviews, 29 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Looks better than it is, but it looks fantastic."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: The battle between style and substance rages at the heart of "MirrorMask," and style emerges as the victor. This is a film packed full of vivid imagination and brilliantly realized visual concepts -- all in the service of a so-so story with forgettable characters.

In the tradition of characters such as Dorothy or Alice who go to fanciful places like Oz and Wonderland, we meet Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), a 15-year-old girl who is a reluctant performer in her parents' English circus. "I want to run away and join real life!" she declares in one self-consciously ironic bit of dialogue.

But that is not to be, for instead of real life, she soon finds herself in the Darklands on a search for a powerful object known as the MirrorMask. This is needed to restore the balance between the Darklands and the City of Light, which is currently in great danger because the Light Queen (Gina McKee) has fallen asleep.

That isn't as silly as it sounds. You see, Helena's own mother (also played by Gina McKee) has lapsed into a coma, and the events in the "real world" parallel Helena's journey through the Darklands. As with all good fantasy movies, there is real import lying under the dazzling ideas of magic and spells. (Note how magical books are in this world -- unsurprising, given that novelist Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay.)

But it is not, when you get down to it, any smarter or more clever than, say, "The Never-Ending Story" or "The Wizard of Oz," both of which it closely resembles. And the dynamic between Helena and Valentine (Jason Barry), her bumbling sidekick through the Darklands, is jokey and domestic, belying the film's fantasy-world tone.

Then again, though the lackluster story prevents the film from being brilliant, it can still be very good. Simply looking at it is an awesome experience, if only to observe the endless procession of magical creatures, creative visual devices and cats with human faces. State-of-the-art technology, not to mention a director (Dave McKean) with experience in creating graphic novels, has enabled all of these ideas to be integrated seamlessly into the world of human actors. It suggests that while there's no place like home, there are sure some nifty places to visit.

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originally posted: 04/21/05 16:30:51
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User Comments

3/21/17 Katja Total eye candy, even the real life parts; genuinely funny and touching. Weak story though. 5 stars
11/13/13 Vanessa Campos Interesting movie to look at, the story was ok but I ended up liking the music more. 4 stars
9/19/11 Quigley Not the best fanatsy film ever, but it really holds you in its grasp. Helena is gorgeous. 4 stars
2/03/10 jcjs33 incredible, never seen such a unique, lovely, film of this type, awesome 5 stars
9/17/09 bored mom Somebody rescore the shitty music. Labyrinth is still less painful to watch. 3 stars
6/04/09 xlovebugx the imagination: music, characters, scene, idea, is astounding. definitely a fave of mine 5 stars
11/05/08 Z Beautiful. Amazing top look at. Story... not so much. Just watch is on mute with cool music 4 stars
8/22/08 KingNeutron Not at -all- what I expected- good for kids maybe but Valentine was best part of the movie. 2 stars
7/18/08 scbyfn4evr the only reason critics don't like this movie is because they have been trained against it 5 stars
3/08/08 I loved it I own it 5 stars
4/04/07 Gian Absolutely beautifully, visually. Pulled off a dream world better than anyone else. Love it 5 stars
12/19/06 del Such a great concept and designs, so little payoff. A collosal disappointment. 3 stars
11/19/06 Ionicera I love Sandman and Gaiman/McKean, but the story was a little too familiar and formulaic 4 stars
11/05/06 Ryan_A Gorgeous to look at, although the story needs a little work. 4 stars
6/23/06 Mygaera I sat there, through the whole movie, gaping in amazement, for 90 minutes. 5 stars
6/06/06 Sarah IT WAS SO BORING! 1 stars
3/17/06 welsh angel Beautiful and unsettling. Not most original plot but made up for in mental-ness! 5 stars
3/15/06 Naka Fucking amazing. 5 stars
3/02/06 the laughing man fantastic fantasy, even though it had a flawed begining. 4 stars
1/31/06 R. Prigot Too bad it was limited release... 5 stars
11/26/05 NepruSmelu It was full of cool visual stuff but the story put me to sleep. 4 stars
11/25/05 ketil there is also a wonderful cocteau feel to it.. 5 stars
10/25/05 drfardook the story does fall short but visually incredible and lots of little henson moments 4 stars
10/21/05 BrianWilly Wonky and fun 5 stars
10/04/05 Tony incredible experience - all of the elements come together to create a hauntingly delightful 5 stars
2/26/05 David Taplin Utterly Awesome 5 stars
2/02/05 Lori Go see it...many, many times... 5 stars
2/01/05 Brian Erzen Fantastic, original and fun.... And quite smart too! 5 stars
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  30-Sep-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Feb-2006



Directed by
  Dave McKean

Written by
  Neil Gaiman

  Stephanie Leonidas
  Gina McKee
  Rob Brydon
  Jason Barry
  Dora Bryan
  Stephen Fry

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