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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Adventure > MirrorMask (Theatrical Release)

Mirrormask (Theatrical Review)



Long after the death of its founder, The Jim Henson Company continues to search for the next project that will be the next creative gem that people will want to watch and enjoy over and over again.Entering an early screening of Mirrormask, I wasnít sure what to expect.As a child I had come to love everything Henson touched from The Muppet Show (reviewed elsewhere on this site) to The Dark Crystal.I donít know why I had any doubt in my mind because I was glued to my seat from the first frame until the last, in complete amazement of the entire film.Everything from the production design to the casting was top notch, with that great engulfing feeling of not wanting the adventure to end I had not experienced in a while.Maybe this has to do with me being a kid at heart or simply having a heart, though it was not any kind transference from previous works in the genre.For any age, Mirrormask is a beautiful journey into the heart and certainly the child in all of us.


The filmmakers, director Dave McKean and writer Neil Gaiman have taken the audience on a journey into a fantasy world that seamlessly mixed live-action with CGI. This particular film is in a small line of films that has successfully mixed both formats without ever taking the audience out of the story, while the digital effects are never distracting.At a time when far too many films just throw bad digital effects at the audience, hurting the theatrical box office and even DVD sales (the boom is over, save TV titles), it is a pleasure to see special effects that ambitiously try to be special.


To catch our avid readers up to speed, Mirrormask tells the story of Helena, a teen girl, who works for the family circus. Every waking moment of the day (and night) she dreams of running away from her family.She wants to tackle real life.One night she finds herself on a strange journey into the Dark Lands, a marvelous landscape filled with orbiting giants, monkeybirds and dangerous sphinxes.Upon her quest to return home, Helena searches for the Mirrormask, a charm of enormous power, which is her only hope from fleeing the Dark Lands.The quest here is like nothing we have seen since years before the Lord Of The Rings films: a Fantasy genre work coming out of nowhere.


This groundbreaking film pushes the limits in combining live action with digital animation.The arduous post-production made Gaiman and McKean use new technology as well as delve into unorthodox thinking.Their twenty-year career collaboration has brought everything together in Mirrormask.Their eye-dropping fantasy adventure deserves the praise from all aspects of filmmaking.This film could put McKean on the map, a behind the scenes craftsman making his feature film debut.Gaiman is one of the leading writers in graphic novel comic books and keeps working in the Fantasy genre with a naturalism atypical of much of the material we are seeing produced in it today.Rings has caused a greenlighting frenzy for such work, but few have been sincere.Most are overly processed and this is one of the rare exceptions, but Mirrormask keeps moving along, helped by a cast of relatively unknown actors who are well cast.


In a subtle homage to Wizard of Oz, Mirrormask still separates itself from the aforementioned, you have yet another fantasy world that is all engulfing.The influence of The Great Depression notwithstanding, this film certainly is able to hold itís own against such greats as Oz, and previous Henson feature film favorites The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.The filmís story is what always captures and captivates me.It will continue to baffle me that a so-called childrenís film can produce a better story than mainstream Hollywood. I think Hollywood needs a wake up call.Regardless, Mirrormask has all the elements of making a lasting mark in a genre that doesnít always produce memorable cinema.Itís simple to say that after all these years The Jim Henson Company are still maintaining a high (maybe even the high) benchmark in imagination and family entertainment.The film will open in theaters on September 30th.



-Jonathan Joy


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