Monday, September 8, 2008
Reflections And Shadows
The fragmented comic-book art of Dave Mckean comes to life in MirrorMask, a simple fantasy tale of an inverted world, and girl on a quest.The plot is kinda standard with some fantastical twists from screen writer Niel Gaiman ("Beawolf", "Stardust"), about a girl who lives at the circus and dreams of joining the real world, until her mother falls suddenly ill. Somehow young Helena finds her way, into a phantasmoagorical world which resembles her drawings of a magic kingdom. The enviornmnt of MirrorMask itself, kinda defies general description; floating colossal golems, penguin apes with wings, sphynx like alley cats who eat books, flying easily offended towers, and free floating fish, etc.
What's really unique about this film is how the heavily augmented digital effects actual make the film feel like a dream(not in a David Lynch, Jacob's Ladder way).The images here have an actual hazzy, fleeting, disconnected way(closer to "Waking Life"), or looking at the world through half developed photographs. Things flicker in and out of focus, while others hover in the artificial background, which because everything is moving anyway, begins to feel very organic.
If you like all encompasing visual spectacle and don't mind a simplistic children's film plot, it's well worth the time. A rare kind of children's film, which doesn't reinvent old troupes and symbols, it has a startling variety of it's own. A perfect marriage of conceptual whimsy and technological savvy, keep the movie above being a mere trove of neat screen-savers. Also has a great musical number, with a dreary mechanized cover of"Close To You" , while clockwork mannequins dress Helena as princess of shadows. Dave Mckean is a multi-media master(he's done covers to every issue of Niel Gaiman's "Sandman", as well as several graphic novels with Gaiman; "Violent Cases", "Signal To Noise", "The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch", not to mention "Batman: Arkahm Asylumn" with Grant Morison, and his own epic "Cages"), whose singular style translates very well visually, and more than anything else, makes the movie worth seeing. MirorMask is a world onto itself.