Release Date: September 30th, 2005 (NYC-Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by Destination Films.
The Cast: Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Rob Brydon, Jason Barry, Dora Bryan, Robert Llewellyn.
Directed by Dave McKean.
BASIC PREMISE: 15 year-old Helena (Leonidas) is stuck in a dream-like fantasy world where she must find a mirrormask in order to escape from it back to the real world.
ENTERTAINMENT: In first 15 minutes when Helena is in the real world, the plot is boring and hard to get into. During these scenes, Helena and her family are part of a circus. After she and her mother (McKee) have a brief argument, her mother falls ill and ends up in a coma. It is then that Helena closes her eyes and suddenly emerges into the fantasy world that the majority of the film takes place in. It is also then that the film becomes much more engaging and visually-imaginative. The entire world is animated in breathtaking CGI with plenty of detail. Helena is not immediately sure where she is or what she has to do to get out of this world. Eventually her mission becomes clear: she must find a mirrormask located in City of Dark to stop the evil powers of the Queen of the Dark from destroying this magical world and to awake the sleeping Queen of the Light. Helena’s adventure is full of strange and surprising obstacles. Along the way, she meets equally strange characters, such as Valentine (Barry), who becomes her quirky, masked sidekick. He’s not as funny and entertaining as Donkey is in Shrek, but he is still a nice contrast to the more serious Helena. Another weird character is a strange-looking animal that guards a gate and requires Helena to solve a riddle to pass the gate. She soon presents him with a difficult riddle that completely stumps him. There are a few instances of surprising humor, such as birds that bob their beaks collectively when—all of a sudden--one of birds’ beaks keeps on falling off. As Helena and Valentine move from obstacle to obstacle, the pace drags a bit and the plot feels slightly redundant. However, the visual effects are consistently impressive and there is plenty of eye candy to hold your interest.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is thought-provoking to observe the similarities between Helena’s real world and her fantasy world, such of which are quite subtle. There it also interesting how the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred---at one point, she ends up looking at herself in the real world from a window in the fantasy world. By the end of the film, it is clear that she has learned to appreciate her mother, but it is not shown enough in the real world to be particularly moving.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Minimal, predictable, and redundant plot.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
THE BOTTOM LINE: A visually imaginative film with superb CGI animation and a few lively yet strange characters, but its plot is hard to get into because it is rarely moving and it suffers from a feeling of redundancy.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)
The "M" Menu