The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 101 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Thai/Spanish Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian
Starring: Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee
Directed by: Dave McKean
Music by: Iain Bellamy
Written by: Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 18, 2008
"Enter a world where dreams are real"
The White Queen sleeps and will not wake. Black shadows have fallen across her kingdom. The balance between Dark and Light is broken and only the MIRRORMASK can restore it. So Helena, a stranger in a strange land, embarks on an epic quest to find the missing charm before darkness envelops the Dreamworld forever. Written by award-winning fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, MIRRORMASK is a phantasmagorical treat for the eyes and mind, a wondrous blend of live action and CG animation, where strange, magical creatures dwell in a fantasy world of unbridled imagination and scope, as told through the spectacular, cutting-edge visuals of designer/director Dave McKean.
My Take:MirrorMask comes from the makers of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal based upon the creative minds of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Prior to reviewing it I had never heard of this film. It begins with Helena (Leonidas), a teenage girl who works as a juggler in a circus owned and operated by her parents. Helena, like most teenagers, longs to feel independent and has grown tired and frustrated with the routine associated with circus life. She has an argument with her mother just prior to a performance one evening. While Helena and her father are performing in the big ring her mother falls ill backstage and is hospitalized. Helena feels extremely guilty over it. She awakes late one night to find herself in a strange land filled with odd creatures and interesting characters, most of whom wear masks. Helena is looked upon as strange because she doesn't wear a mask and wears rabbits (slippers) on her feet. She meets up with a performer named Valentine (Barry) who like her, is a performing juggler. He is looking for a new partner and they agree to join up when Helena is suddenly captured and taken to the palace of the Queen of Light. There she meets the Prime Minister who informs her that the Queen of Light has fallen ill and can only be restored to health by a charm known as the MirrorMask. Valentine and Helena set out on their quest to find it only to discover the existence of the Dark Queen of Shadows who, Unbeknownst to Helena, has her owns plans for her.This was a somewhat charming and lukewarm fantasy film that weaves an intricate tapestry filled with avant-garde characters and storybook style visuals that were quite imaginative.
The rating is for some mild thematic elements and scary images. Little ones might find some of the characters in the story to be frightening.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
MirrorMask comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.6 mbps.
The look of this film does not lend itself to frequent use of eye popping colors, bold contrast or resolute sharpness. The world where most of the film takes place is made up of large amounts of CGI which is interwoven with both real objects and people. It has a distinct and artistic design that gives it the appearance and feel of a dream. The opening of the film intentionally uses muted colors and drab lighting which provides a noticeable contrast to the story's fantasy world. Blacks are deep, noise free and dynamic. Shadow delineation is excellent which gives the film's multitude of low lit sequences and darker elements plenty of depth and dimension. The color palette isn't particularly extensive as sepia tones, beige and other neutral colors are heavily utilized. Red is used in a variety of shades and is coupled along with well saturated blue and green primaries to give images ample tonal depth. Contrast is spot on so that whites appear dynamic and punchy when appropriate without being overcooked and washed out. Fine detail is readily perceivable in close ups while backgrounds during long range shots tend to appear less definitive.
The lossless audio presentation, like the video, was used like a canvas to paint a picture that brought the fantasy world to life. The soundtrack capably blends the music and intricate details associated with the divergent mix of sound effects. The track is a bit deceiving as it can go from blissfully laid back to becoming fully engulfed in spatial dimension and foundation shaking bass. The mix didn't make constant use of the low frequency effects channel however it was used often enough to make an impression. There are several sequences where bass extension reached down deep as it pressurized the room with conspicuous and dynamic low frequency energy. The entire surround platform was used to lay the foundation for the host of directional and ambient effects that filled the fantasy world's soundscape. Superlative detail and clarity brought forth every nuance within the recording so that each was discernibly distinguishable. There is a great cover of The Carpenter's Close to you during a transformation sequence. The beautifully textured and sibilant free quality of the vocals was intoxicating. Iain Bellamy's fantastic progressive jazz music score highlighted the soundtrack as it played perfectly against the perilous nature of the story. This was a truly impressive surround mix.
- Commentary with Director Dave McKean and Writer Neil Gaiman
- Neil Talks
- Dave Talks
- Cast & Crew
- Day 16 - Production
- Flight of the Monkeybirds - Production
- Giants development - Production
- Questions and answers
- (HD) Previews - The Water Horse: legend of the deep, CJ7, Daddy camp, Surf's up
- BD-Live enabled - Access available by releases day
MirrorMask is a mildly entertaining and visually intriguing tale filled with extravagant creatures and beautifully crafted images that seem to come to life as if plucked from the imagination of a child. The story is rather elementary but its message is a positive one. Sony has brought it to high definition Blu-ray Disc in typical fashion. It sports excellent video and near reference quality audio in addition to all of the bonus supplements contained on the original 2006 DVD release, and Blu-ray Disc live access. Fans can feel free to upgrade their existing standard definition versions in favor of this higher quality release. Those who are curious should probably give it a rent as I am not sure how well it would hold up under repeat viewings.
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