Let me begin by saying that I love Dave McKean's art. I read the works of Neil Gaiman, a frequent collaborator of McKean (as he is in this film), and McKean's illustrations have always been, to me, otherworldly and mesmerizingly beautiful, images snatched from a dreamscape. But how to translate all that visual mastery into a working, live-action film? I was worried, and the trailers didn't help; what I saw there had large helpings of the art that I loved, yes, but somehow it felt empty.
Oh, but it turns out that that's how it was supposed to be. From her stay in her family's circus to the bleak world of light and dark and the MirrorMask, there was supposed to be emptiness, the sort that consumes. The circus is a good starting point, as the limited cast of major players feels like a sort of wandering acting troupe, wondrous in their costumes and makeup and splendid foregrounds to McKean's uncanny visuals. Gullible sphinxes, giants that would bore the Ents, moving darkness...it's The Wizard of Oz gone wrong, askew, empty. It reminds me of the game Alice, which is being made into a film for release this year. If it has half the alien beauty of MirrorMask, it's going to be fantastic. Having said that, the film is nothing short of fantastic. And I'm hoping to see more of Stephanie Leonidas soon. Grade: B+
Image from IMDb