Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MirrorMask (2005)

MirrorMaskThis is a stunning, gorgeous, mind-blowing movie.

It seems criticisms of this movie are stemming from two basic complaints: first, that the story is unoriginal/derivative; and second, that the movie is all visuals, no plot. The first complaint misses the point completely. The whole point of the story is that it is ARCHETYPAL. It deals with fundamental human issues of identity, growth, dark and light, good and evil. To complain that an archetypal story is unoriginal is like complaining that an apple doesn't taste like an orange. To have completely unrelated expectations is to be disappointed.

The second complaint is once again an issue of erroneous expectations. A distinction must be made between film as pure entertainment and film as pure art. These two genres sometimes co-exist, of course, and there is a spectrum in between. Yes, this is a visual movie. It is self-consciously a movie intended to display film-making as a visual art, which it first and foremost is. When appreciating a painting, is the central issue the painter's choice of subject matter? No, it is technique, execution, mood, effect. Who decided film is only successful or worthy if the plot entertains us sufficiently? Seems to me that is rather a shallow, provincial and self-absorbed viewpoint.

For goodness' sake, leave your expectations and preconceptions at the door and just accept this movie offering at face value. Complaining about what it isn't (and isn't meant to be) is pointless and a waste of everybody's time. Watch it and appreciate it for what it is: a classic, archetypal story beautifully retold in an exemplary display of film-making as a visual art form.

(This is based on the theatrical release of MirrorMask which is currently in theaters, 10/30/05)

With a little help from Neil Gaiman's masterful writing, and Dave McKean's able artistry and direction, the Jim Henson Company makes a fantasy-filled return to the silver screen.

I was a big fan of The Labyrinth and, even more so, The Dark Crystal in the `80's. The excellent puppetry work combined with human characters was a novel idea, far beyond Sesame Street, and formatted more for the adult who has a kid's mentality. I was curious to see how The Henson Company might have advanced in the intervening years, and I wasn't disappointed. Gone are the puppets (to the chagrin of some) and in their place are CGI screens that boggle the mind a living tapestry that slowly trundles by.

Creating screen shots that mimic a painter's canvas, this movie is pure eye-candy (think Alice In Wonderland meets Van Gogh). Although the opening few minutes felt more TV-esque than magical, they were quickly whisked away by the sumptuous middle and ending of the film.

The story: Helena, a teenage circus performer along with her mother and father, is having the usual surges of defiance. She doesn't want to be in the circus anymore, and she and her mother have a heated argument in which Helena wishes her mother dead. And during the evenings performance under the big top, Joanne, Helena's mother, collapses and falls into a coma. It is quickly discovered that she has something seriously wrong with her (although it's never defined, a brain tumor is easily surmised). Helena is riddled with guilt over her nasty words and falls asleep one night, and wakes up in a world of muted colors and magical creatures. Giant stone beings, masked love-interests, idiot cat-sphinxes, and a growing darkness that threatens to envelope this alternate world.

As Helena moves her way through this strange land, we begin to understand that she isn't asleep nor dreaming. This is real. But she's traded places with another, less likable Helena who is destroying her life back in the "normal" world. Helena sees this "other her" through the drawings she's done that decorate her bedroom wall. She looks through sketched windows, watching helplessly as the "bad" Helena argues with her father, makes out with a boy on her bed, and generally wreaks havoc.

It is soon discovered that the reason the world the good Helena now inhabits is falling into darkness is because of the imbalance created by the trading of places by the two Helenas, and our heroine has to find something called the MirrorMask to help set things right. The search is a puzzling heroes journey that pulls her deeper and closer to a wickedly dark queen. Helena struggles with growing up and becoming a stronger person as she walks, runs, and flies through this surreal landscape, trying to get back to her family and, most importantly, to her mother's sickbed.

This is a great movie for adults to take their teens to. It'll give them something to discuss as their children grow and have to face the muted colors of adulthood.

[The film is now playing in limited release at many art theaters and comes highly recommended]

Buy MirrorMask (2005) Now

Some tales are told best around a campfire. Others belong on the pages of a book. And some stories demand to be told via the film medium. Mirror Mask, I feel, is one of these. From the first moment when the theatre darkened to when the last credit scrolled off the screen, I was entranced. And I walked away convinced that this particular story could not have been told as effectively in any other way.I left the theatre feeling the intense genius-envy I get whenever I experience something Neil Gaiman has had a hand in.

As a purveyor of fantasy, I read a tremendous amount in the field and see many movies in the genre. It's so easy to become jaded, so easy to see exactly where the current of a tale is carrying you; and then I encounter something like Mirror Mask and I fall in love all over again. I realize afresh that fantasy has no boundaries.

There are movies that leave me with a feeling of satisfaction, where I give a great sigh and feel content with a wonderful ending. Others, like Mirror Mask, set off a string of creative fireworks inside my mind and leave me fully charged and ready to see all the wonderful beginnings in the world.

I highly recommed this film.

Read Best Reviews of MirrorMask (2005) Here

Okay, first of all, yes the imagery and graphics are fantastic. All of them. Amazingly imaginative and just a little bit creepy in a whimsical sort of way.

Second, I notice that most of my fellow reviewers have knocked off points for this movie because the characters and the story line are rather two-dimensional. To them I have this to say: Of course they are; this is a fairytale world. Fairy tale characters and plotlines are two-dimensional and have been done a million times before--and this is WHY we love them.

So, reader, if you are looking for an amazingly complicated film full of deep insights, do not see this movie. If you want a beautiful fairy tale world something between Alice in Wonderland and The Nightmare Before Christmas: WATCH THIS MOVIE NOW!


Want MirrorMask (2005) Discount?

A lot of reviews have stated this film has no real substance in the story but I must disagree. Those reviews keep trying to define Mirrormask in terms of their own childhood fantasies, but in Mirrormask you find a fairytale full of all the terrors that are unique to today's world. No longer are we concerned with children losing themselves in a vast, uncharted world. Now, the children are frightened of their "parents", the parents who don't love them, the parents who only want to use them. How are the children to find their way to the parent who truly cares for them; how can they tell the difference? In most of the movies that are compared to Mirrormask, the children are lost and in search of home where everything will suddenly be all better. Mirrormask, however, explores a new dilemma children faced with multiple homes, none of which is the perfect place where everyone is happy all the time. And given the option of homes, how is the child to know the right one? To me, Mirrormask has achieved something only rarely seen today; it has created and brand new fairytale.

Save 25% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment