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MIRRORMASK

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.Teen-aged Helena, a bored veteran of her family's traveling circus, becomes trapped in the Dark Lands, a mysterious dream world where even the oddest things seem familiar. Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) journeys through this perilous place, emboldened by her own common sense and the occasional glimpse of home, in search of a charm that will return her to her "normal" life - though not before she learns a few lessons about what's really important. Dave McKean's film is an extra-freaky, darkly hued update on The Wizard of Oz that combines live action with richly imagined and detailed computer animation; McKean co-scripted with Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame), and the pair's extensive background in graphic novels is evident in both Mirrormask's look and its feel. Fans of the pair will be thrilled to see such visions realized on screen, though the more casual viewer might find the film's off-kilter imagery and occasionally muddled storyline more taxing. Harris (AH)

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