DIRECTED BY: Dave McKean
FEATURING: Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Gina McKee, Rob Brydon
PLOT: A bratty teenager who works as a juggler in her parents’ circus is transported to a devious world of her own imagination after her mother falls ill. With the help of a cowardly juggler, she navigates a crumbling surrealistic city where everyone wears masks in search of a charm that will help bring her back to her own life.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: While Dave McKean’s impressively out-there creature and set design certainly gives MirrorMask some memorable visuals, the story and characters are lifted right out of typical fantasy stock, resulting in a beautiful but ultimately conventional movie. 366weirdmovies adds: I agree that MirrorMask shouldn’t go on the List; but, I will admit that when the androids popped out of their pods and gave the heroine a “bad girl” makeover while singing a weirdly harmonized version of the Carpenters’ “Close to You,” I was strongly tempted to nominate it as a Candidate.
COMMENTS: Popular fantasy author Neil Gaiman teamed up Dave McKean, the cover artist for his “Sandman” comics, delivering a script that revisits themes from his young adult book Coraline (which itself draws on archetypes found in The Wizard of Oz and “Alice in Wonderland“) for a movie that recalls the wild, inventive imagery of “Sandman” and his Neverwhere BBC miniseries. MirrorMask is an allegorical adventure about a girl who grows up quickly, redeeming her past selfish actions through new-found respect for her parents and her own talents. It’s a family film, and is at times bogged down by patronizing, simplistic dialogue and obvious symbolism, including a world literally divided by “Light” and “Shadow.” There’s even a girl whose clear displays of “evilness” are fishnet stockings, cigarettes, and (gasp!) kissing a boy.
For all its narrative flaws, the film still charms with the help of a talented cast. Stephanie Leonidas is excellent as Helena, effectively capturing the many moods of a teenage girl while still creating a sympathetic character. Jason Barry works well with his chatty, comic-relief sidekick character, despite the inherent cliches in his personality. But it’s Gina McKee in her triple role as Helena’s mother, the “Queen of Light”, and the “Queen of Darkness” who really Continue reading CAPSULE: MIRRORMASK (2005)