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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 Peter Sobczynski

"An eye-popping fantasy destined to become a cult classic"
5 stars

The idea of a quasi-sequel to the 1986 fantasy film “Labyrinth,” the Jim Henson epic that is best remembered today (if it is at all) for featuring David Bowie at his goofiest and Jennifer Connelly at her most heart-stoppingly (though not-quite-legal) gorgeous, may not sound like the most promising material for a movie. And yet, in one of the happier cinematic surprises of late, “Mirrormask” is an often-stunning epic that deserves far better than the low-key art-house release that it is inexplicably receiving.

In a story that sounds on the surface like Angela Carter rewriting “The Talisman” (though actually penned by acclaimed fantasist Neil Gaiman), 15-year-old Helena (Stephanie Leonidas in a remarkable performance) has grown tired of working in the circus run by her parents (Gina McKee and Rob Brydon) and half-facetiously wishes that she could “run away and join real life.” After a quarrel, Mom falls gravely ill and Helena mysteriously finds herself in a faraway and mystical land under attack from the forces of darkness. In order to return home, she must, with the aid of juggling sidekick Valentine (Jason Barry) recover the Mirrormask, a talisman on unimaginable power that bridges the gap between the two worlds, and save the life of the queen of the land (also played, not surprisingly, by McKee).

While the story is serviceable but predictable (then again, one could describe most fairy tales in those exact words if they wanted to), the visual design of “Mirrormask” is as dazzling as anything that you could hope to see. Utilizing a blend of live-action and the efforts of only seventeen digital animators, director David McKean gives viewers an astounding feast for the eyes–a fully-realized universe as complex and detailed as any seen on screen in recent years that features living masks, giant pigeons, really useful books and one of the more unlikely uses of a Carpenters song that you are likely to encounter.

However, the film is more than just a bit of eye candy thanks to the strong work by relative newcomer Leonidas; even the most experienced actresses might find the challenges of the role of Helena too difficult to overcome–not only does she have to convincingly deliver the standard fantasy gobbledygook dialogue, she has to perform it, because of the special-effects techniques, in front of a green screen without any trace of the creatures or surrounding that will eventually fill the frame–but she pulls things off beautifully.

Although it may be a little too dark and too British in tone for younger viewers that it might have theoretically been aimed at, “Mirrormask” is a eye-popping fantasy that has all the making of a cult classic.

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originally posted: 09/30/05 13:49:09
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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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