MirrorMask (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is a circus performer, but she wants to escape to a more normal life. This strikes her mother as quite odd, since the young audience members would like to run away to join the circus, while Helena seeks to leave it behind. As much as she would like to skip her performance, Helena puts on her act and juggles, much to the delight of the crowd. But when she returns backstage, she learns her mother has been taken in an ambulance. Now her father has to choose between staying by his ailing wife’s side or pushing on with the circus, so the performances can continue. At the same time, Helena is sent to stay with her aunt Nan (Dora Bryan) and there she begins to have unusual dreams. Already frustrated with her life, now she is consumed with fear about her mother, so her mind is very turbulent. She soon finds herself in an alternate world, one that resembles her own artwork, her escape from the circus lifestyle. But all is not well here either, so can Helena manage to stabilize this world, even if not her own?

Looks aren’t everything, right? That is the old adage, but can a movie succeed even if its visuals are by and large its greatest accomplishment? I’ve seen a lot of films with incredible, lavish visuals, but few can compete with MirrorMask in that respect. This is without question a visual masterpiece, a unique vision that strikes us from the first second and never releases hold. As often as I have lamented digital effects, I’ve seen in MirrorMask how well the digital realm can be put to use. A surreal, dreamlike world is created, one that seems almost real at times, but at the same time, so different from our own. I found myself lost in the visuals at times, with so much detail and depth on showcase. The story here is a little pretentious at times, but is decent, though it takes a backseat to the visuals from start to finish. The cast is fine across the board, but like the story, the actors are overshadowed by the production design. In the end, MirrorMask is recommended thanks to the incredible visuals, even if the other elements come off as a tad thin.

Video: How does it look?

MirrorMask is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. As this movie has some lush visuals, I hoped for a high end transfer, but sadly, one wasn’t delivered. This is not a bad transfer, but given the emphasis on the visuals in MirrorMask, this doesn’t bring home the kind of knockout treatment the material deserves. I do think detail is enhanced over the DVD, but this added resolution also makes the grain more prominent. The additional detail isn’t remarkable either, so the jump from standard to Blu-ray isn’t as impressive as I hoped it would be. Even so, this is an above average presentation, with accurate colors and contrast throughout.

Audio: How does it sound?

This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option sounds great, but doesn’t quite reach the level of the upper tier soundtracks out there. There is a lot of subtle surround presence, which is great news, as that means the atmosphere is effective. The small touches make a huge difference in the experience, so in that regard, this soundtrack is a home run. But the powerful elements seem to lack at times, so the balance isn’t quite there. Some scenes show off some boom, but most seem reserved and don’t pack much of a punch. The dialogue sounds good though, while the music is well placed. This disc also includes French, Spanish, Thai, and Portuguese language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, Thai, and Indonesian.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The same extras from the DVD have been ported over, but no new inclusions. There is a lot of material to cover here, including a number of brief, but insightful behind the scenes looks at how the film’s visuals were created. You can watch as the magic unfolds, as well as check out interviews, watch a time lapse look at one day of production, and sit in on some Q&A sessions. The featurettes don’t run as long as I would like, but they do contain some worthwhile information. An audio commentary track with director Dave McKean and writer Neil Gaiman proves to be the best of the supplements, with quite a lot of great insight into the material and this production.

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