[Screenshot]It’s a popular misconception that Tim Burton had anything at all to do with this film. It’s easy to see why: it bears a strong stylistic similarity to Burton’s stop-motion films, but that can be traced directly to the man who helped craft Burton’s inimitable style, Henry Selick, who did direct this one. It is visually astonishing and phantasmagorical, as we might reasonably expect from Selick. It’s certainly the lushest thing I’ve seen on the screen in a long time, and it is indeed fantastic on all technical points.

As regards the story: I’ll confess I haven’t actually read the book on which it’s based, which is a bit of a lapse since I rather like Gaiman. I’m reminded, in the overall shape of the plot, of Mirrormask, which is also a Gaiman story. It’s rather simpler, which is unsurprising since it represents the mindset of a younger protagonist, but I’d say it’s at about the right level in terms of thematic depth. My only real complaint was in pacing. There is a radical shift in tone at a point which felt like the midpoint, leading up to a MacGuffin hunt. I’d reasonably expected this to take up much of the film, but this little quest was dispatched in what seemed like a bit of a rush.

All in all, this is a gorgeous film, exquisitely wrought, acceptably paced, and meaty enough to keep your mind engaged. It’s a perfect dark fantasy well worth the price of admission. There’s apparently a 3-D version I haven’t seen, but I found it fantastic even without gimmicks.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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