mirrormaskbluTake a little of ‘Labyrinth’, a dazzle of ‘The Dark Crystal’, and bits of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and you have ‘MirrorMask’. Jim Henson Company decided that with ‘The Dark Crystal’ being so successful they decided to return to the fantasy world of filmmaking. The talented Screenwriter Neal Gaiman and Director Dave McKean worked together to bring the world in ‘MirrorMask’ together. There was an even bigger task at hand that they had to work with a limited budget.

The story begins with Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) whom is a fifteen year old daughter of a traveling circus act family. Helena is not happy with this life that she lives and wants nothing to do with the circus. She spends most of her time drawing wonderful and imaginative pictures. Helena escapes more and more into her drawings as it becomes a way of life for her.

Then a problem arises for the family when Helena’s mother gets very sick and has to be kept in the hospital. It just throws everything in turmoil for the family. It affects the circus due to her mother not being able to partake in her management duties. Helena starts to take the blame because she secluded herself from her family and the circus. She feels like she placed such a huge burden on her mother’s shoulders by not being there for her. Helena falls asleep and starts to get pulled into a dream world that is manifested by her stress and guilt.

Once Helena enters this world, there is chaos running rampant by the Black Queen as she is trying to take over White Queen’s land. It is up to Helena to find the MirrorMask so she can awaken the White Queen. If the White Queen does not awaken, the Black Queen will be taking over without any opposition. Helena has to contend with the Black Queen’s servants on her task to find the MirrorMask. At this point is when we start to see all kinds of strange looking fantasy world characters emerging. In this world, many of Helena’s drawings start to appear in her dream making this an even more real world feeling. It feels as her dream and the real world are merging together.

‘MirrorMask’ was an interesting film with a decent story, but the artsy look and feel is where it didn’t quite connect with me. There was too much going on in the dream world that lost me because of the 3D animations that were thrown in at different times. The problem here is that there are just way too many special effects for its own good. For a film with a low budget, I would have also expected much less in the zany special effects department. The film did win many awards at the film festivals, including Sundance being one of them.

Print/Audio Quality
The film is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. ‘MirrorMask’ excels in the color department with some strong stylized visuals. With the style that was used for the film, it gives an almost painting like image during the dream sequences. This is done intentionally to give you the illusion of being in a dream world. Details are very good with the costumes themselves and they really pop. Blacks are also deep. The CGI also looks very good and well placed with the live action scenes. There is also a slight hint of grain throughout the print.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. The sound is excellent as the soundfield gets a good workout from the various sound effects of the film. The dynamic range from the rears is very good as you hear sounds go from one surround to the next. Dialogue is clean and crisp through the center channel. Not once did I have to worry about adjusting the volume. It is a well balanced mix.

Special Features
Considering that the film is very visual and has a unique style, the special features are lacking a bit with only the trailers being in high definition while all the features are in standard definition.

  • Neil Talks
  • Dave Talks About the Film
  • Beginnings
  • Cast and Crew
  • Day 16
  • Flight of the Monkey Birds
  • Giants Development
  • Q&A
  • Audio Commentary
  • Trailers [HD]

‘MirrorMask’ is a very different and stylized kind of film. The story is interesting, but it didn’t captivate me like I had hoped. If you are a fan of fantasy themed films, you will enjoy ‘MirrorMask’. The Blu-ray version of the film has excellent video and audio presentation that really brings out the visuals.