2 In 1: MirrorMask and Stardust.

The theme for this 2 In 1 is Neil Gaiman. That’s right, the man of twisted fantasy. He has a great imagination and his work truly shows it. In fact, the first on this list, MirrorMask, is the movie I always turn to when I’m writing anything fantastical and have writer’s block. It always seems to help pull me out of it. So here goes.


MirrorMask is pure imagination, truly. It is twisted, imaginative, and incredibly hard to describe. But I’ll give it a shot, anyway. Most people want to run away and join the circus. Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is in the circus and wants to run away and join real life. But after a big argument with her mother (Gina McKee), and her mother falls ill with some type of cancer, Helena grows depressed at having said certain things to her mother. So Helena falls asleep, has a crazy nightmare, and wakes up. But when she wakes up, she wakes up in another realm: a realm of imagination and incredibly bizarre things based on Helena’s drawings. She joins up with witty Valentine (Jason Barry) and discovers that a Shadow is destroying the kingdom of Light because the Queen of Light (Gina McKee, again) has basically fallen into a coma because a ‘charm’ has been stolen by the kingdom of Dark’s princess (Stephanie Leonidas, again). And to top it all off, this Anti-Helena has taken Helena's place in the real world to mess up her life. So now it’s up to Helena and Valentine to travel this realm and try to find this charm, even though they have no idea what it is or where to look, and find a way back home before it's too late.

Like The Wizard of Oz, almost every character portrayed in the fantasy realm is played by an actor or actress that portrays a character in the reality realm. The acting is great and a lot of the characters are pretty funny/witty, especially Valentine (so the script/dialogue is great, as well). And the plot is great and touching. You really feel Helena’s pain and fear for her mother. The whole movie can really be seen on a whole other level, for this dream reality being Helena’s way of dealing with her life (much like the kids in Bridge to Terabithia, except more constant).

The special effects are phenomenal. You can tell stuff isn’t real, but it’s so fitting with the world that it works, because the world is imagination. It’s all based on Helena’s drawings and surroundings in the normal world. Some of my favorite scenes include Giants Orbiting (amazing scene), the monkey/bird ‘Bobs’ scene, and the scene in which Helena is becoming Dark Helena via the jack-in-the-box women (which can be seen as a runner-up in my Best Random Song/Dance Numbers article). Visually, this movie is pure special effects, really.

When I first saw this movie, I was like ‘what the hell did I just watch?’ But the more I thought about it, and the more times I watched it, I grew to love it more and more. In fact, I watched it again last night and gained even more love for it. Not many movies do that with me (Shaun of the Dead was another movie that this happens to me with). This was really a tough movie to score. I went back and forth a lot, but I suppose its gotta be done.

Royale With Cheese


This one is much more light-hearted than the previous (and that’s a cool thing about Neil Gaiman. He can write the full spectrum. If you see/read Stardust, you would never think he was the same person to write American Gods. Well, maybe I would, because I’m the same way with my writing, some dark some light). Anyway, this one is about Tristan (Charlie Cox), who lives in the town of Wall, which is, amazingly enough, surrounded by a wall. Outside the wall is a realm of magic. Tristan is in love/lust with Victoria (Sienna Miller), even though she’s going to be proposed to in a week by somebody else. So when they see a falling star, he promises that he will cross the wall and bring her back the fallen star in exchange for her hand in marriage. But when he gets there, the star turns out to have taken a human form, Yvaine (Claire Danes). Meanwhile, a witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) is after the fallen star for her heart so she can gain youth. Simultaneously, evil Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) is after a jeweled necklace that knocked Yvaine out of the sky that she now wears around her neck, so that he can become the next king. Complicated much?

Anywho, this is one heck of an adventure. From Robert De Niro’s Captain Shakespeare and beyond, this movie is just plain fun. There is magic all over the place, comedy spread throughout, and it just has a cool story. Sure, there’s a ton going on, but it never seems convoluted in any way.

The acting is great, especially from Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro, who you could tell had loads of fun with their roles (especially De Niro). And once Tristan gets his makeover, his character gets a bit cooler, as well.

The special effects are pretty decent. The coolest scene has to be the Voodoo doll sword fight toward the end. The actor basically had to be on wires and act as a marionette, fighting with his eyes closed (avoiding saying who to not spoil those who haven’t seen it yet, though it’s relatively spoiled in the movie’s trailer anyway).

There’s not much more to say about the movie. It was a magical, fun, and funny adventure. I think it would be really hard to dislike this movie, honestly. I could see some people being turned off by parts of it, but it just seems to me to be this feel-good fantasy adventure.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

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