Sunday, November 13, 2016

Movie Review: Mirrormask

Samuel Goldwin Films, Destination Films, Jim Henson Company, United Kingdom, USA, 2005.

Again a reader suggested film.

Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is a teen girl who enjoys drawing and whose parents run a Circus. Helena does not like Circus life and has an argument her mother Joanne (Gina McKee). Joanne suffers a sudden collapse and goes to hospital. The Circus struggles to survive and Helena moves temporarily to her grandma Nan (Dora Bryan). 
Stephanie Leonidas
At night Helena enters a strange world where evil shadows of Queen of Shadows (Gina McKee again) are spreading destruction. Juggler Valentine (Jason Barry) shows her around in the strange world where everyone wears a mask. The Princess of Shadowlands is missing and Queen of Light (Gina McKee) is in coma. Prime Minister (Rob Brydon, who plays also Helena's dad) sends Helena to find magical Charm that could save the world. 
Helena goes to strange land
Jason Barry
Gina McKee
Queen of Shadows
The world is populated by masked humans, catlike sphinxes with human faces, monkeybirds and other weird creatures. Queen of Shadows mistakes Helena as her daughter and becomes very possessive about her. However Anti-Helena has replaced Helena in the real world where she's behaving badly.
Rob Brydon
Prime Minister
Small hairy guy
Bizarre visual style has echoes from visions of Terry Gilliam, Hieronymus Bosch and Salvador Dali but the weirdness may alienate some viewers. For once the CGI-effects are used to create a fantastically imaginative world. The sepia-tone makes the picture look like silent era expressionist films. Weird creatures do whatever they are doing and books flutter around like birds. Surreal scenes that are contrasted by dilapidated suburban buildings in the real world. It is an unique looking coming of age fantasy where Helena has to find a balance about her own wishes and what her parents want her to be. Stephanie Leonidas pulls her roles well, as slowly maturing Helena and bratty Anti-Helena. The story was written by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean and the film is a spiritual successor of "Labyrinth." As the budget was only $4 million some compromises have been made about the story and the pacing feels uneven. Storywise it doesn't reach the Jim Henson Company's older films and feels like a collage of children's fantasy films of 1980-90s such as "Neverending Story", "Return to Oz" and Jim Henson's other films. The motives of the creatures are mostly left open and the story has quite abrupt ending, but that also contributes to the dreamlike logic. Still with all the symbolism, pretty visuals and strange creatures it seems like a film that can offer new things with repeated viewings.
Evil floating face
Muppets in Space Easter egg!
Rating: Good

Starring: Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, Gina McKee, Dora Bryan, Stephen Fry, Andy Hamilton, Simon Harvey, Lenny Henry, Robert Llewellyn, Eryl Maynard, Eve Pearce, Nik Robson, Victoria Williams, Rick Allen, Gina D'Angelo, Simon Schofield, Silvia Fratelli, Lina Johansson, Emma Noris, Peachi Pangea, Mark Tate, Richard Thompson, Robin Thompson, Iain Ballamy, Chris Batchelor, Stian Carstensen, Martin France, Stuart Hall, Dave Powell, Trifon Trifanov, Peter Borroughs, Rusty Goffe, Kerry Jay, Fiona Reynard, Nick Dainton, Nick Jackson, Mark Perry, Kate Robbins, Stuart St. Paul 
Director: Dave McKean

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