MirrorMask is not a great movie, per se, but I can’t help but love it, despite its (many) flaws. Written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean, who worked with Gaiman as an illustrator on The Sandman, the film is full of big ideas an amazing imagery. Just check out the trailer:
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite hold up. It’s a pretty standard quest film, and some of the plot points don’t quite work once you start to really think about them. But that almost doesn’t matter because so much else about the film works.* The visuals of the film are breathtaking, full of haunting beauty. Most of the film takes place in an imaginary world created by the protagonist. It’s expansive but sparsely populated, creating a sense of isolated dread. When inhabitants do show up, they are the perfect mix of creepy and cute, especially the riddle-loving sphinxes. And the film is full of Gaiman’s wonderfully off-kilter humor.
This movie is not for everyone. Or even most people. But I’d recommend giving it a try, because if you end up liking it, you’ll absolutely love it.
*I’m trying to decide whether this makes me a hypocrite; I despised Avatar because it had a silly, uninspired story and mind-blowing visuals. Then again, the acting and humor in Avatar are also pretty bad.