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Mirrormask - Review

Mirrormask

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director And Writer Commentary; Interview With Writer Neil Gaiman; Director Interview; Beginnings The Genesis Of Mirrormask; Day 16 Time Lapse Video One Entire Day Of Production; Flight Of The Monkeybirds Making Of The Monkeybird Sequence; Giants Development Design And Creation Of The Giant Sequence; Questions And Answers From The San Diego Comic Con; Poster And Cover Art Gallery; Cast And Crew Interviews.

DAVE McKean’s Mirrormask clearly takes its cue from the likes of Labyrinth and The Wizard of Oz yet ultimately lacks the enduring appeal of either.

The film looks wonderful and contains several sequences that could only have come from the fertile imagination of the man behind key art works such as Hellblazer, The Sandman and Arkham Asylum.

But there are also times when the film feels laboured and is, by the director’s own admission, very much a first time effort.

The film follows the fortunes of Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), the 15-year-old daughter of circus entertainers, who suddenly finds herself transported to a magical world after her mother (Gina McKee) falls ill after the two have rowed.

Once inside this strange new world, however, Helena undertakes a mission to find the missing Mirrormask, save the Dark Lands from the clutches of an evil queen and find a new way home.

McKean’s film, which was made at the request and with the help of The Jim Henson company, follows the same traditions of several classic children’s adventures but is much darker and more serious.

It succeeds in capturing your attention because of the visuals, which include floating giants and weird cat-like creatures, but crucially fails to engage on an emotional level which eventually takes its toll.

That said, Leonidas is very good in the lead role of Helena, following in the illustrious footsteps of Judy Garland and Jennifer Connelly but too many of the other characters feel too detached from reality and inhibited by McKean’s intricate visuals.

Given that Mirrormask marks McKean’s first outing as director, it would be unfair to criticise too harshly.

The film is steeped in classic values that are all too rare nowadays, while the look of the film is both unique and breathtaking.

Yet by attempting to recreate the magic of past children’s classics, McKean is eventually found to be lacking that extra potion that could have made his debut that little bit extra special.

In spite of its failings, however, Mirrormask is worth seeing, while McKean is undoubtedly a name to look out for in the future.

Dave McKean interview

Certificate: PG
Running time: 101mins