October 12th, 2005

Magritte - Treason of Images

MirrorMask

I know you've seen plenty of rave reviews for MirrorMask. I know I have. But honestly, most of those reviews ran off of me like water off of a duck's back, because they were from people I would have expected to like MirrorMask. Some people are gaga over almost every British import; I can't stand most of the stuff. Some people are gaga over everything that Neil Gaiman has done; I think his stuff is terribly uneven, but I thought a couple of the things he did were good. Some people see "Jim Henson Creature Shop" in the credits and swoon, conjuring up magical wonderful memories of one of their favorite movies, The Dark Crystal -- which I thought was ugly, slow, poorly made, imitative, shallow, and mind-numbingly dull, one of the worst movies of all time. So if you loved The Dark Crystal and you're telling me to go see MirrorMask, my inclination is avoid it. But I liked the art on the (Flash-heavy) promotional web page for it, and I liked one of the ideas that was mentioned in almost every review of it. So while I wasn't going to go out of my way to see it, when a couple of friends of mine invited me to come along with them and see it, I said, "Sure."

MirrorMask is amazing. One of the best movies I've seen in years. Yes, even better than Serenity. Here in St. Louis, you only have two evenings left to see it in the theater, because after Thursday night, it's gone. I doubt it'll last any longer in other cities, so whatever you were planning on doing instead tonight or tomorrow, if you haven't seen MirrorMask yet, move it up the priority queue. No, you don't want to wait and see it on DVD, any more than you want to see Sin City on DVD for the first time if you have any choice. This movie absolutely demands the big screen.

The line, by the way, in the reviews that made me half curious to see it was that this was a movie composed almost entirely of fairy-tale motifs, but with a plot that is unlike any known fairy tale. And you know what? It's true. A kingdom of light and a kingdom of dark, a quest, sphinxes and riddles, a princess locked away in a tower, a juggler and fool for a hero, a magical key that nobody can find the lock that matches, oh yeah, we've seen many of these pieces before. And out of all these deeply resonant images and situations, Gaiman has made something new, original, striking, powerfully psychedelic, and deeply moving.

I don't want to spoil the movie. There is a major plot twist that I saw coming about a third of the way through, and enjoyed watching unfold, and I don't want to spoil it for you. But if what I've said above doesn't catch your attention, let me ask you if you would go see What Dreams May Come if a G-rated version of the late Vaughn Bodé had done the art direction and Jane Yolen or Terry Windling had story-edited it?