Visually stimulating and absolutely weird, "MirrorMask" is "The Neverending Story," "Labyrinth" and "Alice in Wonderland" on crack. Twisted, dark, a little bit creepy yet still holding a PG rating, "MirrorMask" is one of the more unique films to come out this year.
About a girl named Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) who reluctantly works for her dad's circus, the story goes inside her imagination and how it runs wild after her mom suddenly falls deathly ill. She is suddenly propelled into a world where everyone wears masks and not everyone, if anyone, is human, where cats are sphinxes and books fly home to the library. A darkness has been sweeping over the strange world as the dark queen from the city limits has been searching for her long lost daughter, who looks amazingly like Helena. Caught in the middle, Helena realizes that she may have more to do with the unbalance than she first thought, and to save the world and herself she must find the MirrorMask, an object that no one knows what it looks like.
Directed by Dave McKean and written by the more well-known Neil Gaiman, who has the tendency to write weird and twisted stories often dealing with the surreal, "MirrorMask" is a visual explosion that will always keep you interested. The special effects are great and unique; you've never seen anything like this before. McKean (who also has writing credits to the movie) has effectively translated Gaiman's story to the big screen, making the world even weirder than it was on paper.
The story is pretty decent and doesn't necessarily follow the normal track of plotlines, but at the same time it is clear weirdness outweighed the need for a completely solid plot. After all, the story isn't all that different from "The Neverending Story" or "Labirynth," but that's no big deal; the bigger problem is that at times it lacks the suspense and pacing that could take this film to the next level. While never slow, the movie is at times not very fast either, especially in the final act when things seem to drag on a bit. You can only handle so much oddness before you want to see something concrete and exciting, and "MirrorMask" never tries to be conventional to the point where it suffers because of it.
Still, "MirrorMask" is unique at least in presentation, and for that it deserves kudos. This film isn't for anyone and you must have a taste for the odd, but "MirrorMask" is a fun little picture.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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