Wow. This was really, really good. I am a big fan of Dave McKean’s work, and though I haven’t read Neil Gaiman other than to peruse it in the bookstore and online, I must say he is some kind of evil genius too. (I have just started Nevermore…)

McKean’s visual work is rich with layers upon layers of surrealistic detail and undoubtedly carries much meaning. It is sometimes subtle and other times blatant. It is clearly the outgrowth of someone reared on Photoshop!

It has touches of Magritte, Dali, and Monty Python.

The movie mesmerizes from the first entry into Helena’s dream sequence (where the bulk of the movie takes place) you simply can’t take your eyes from the screen. The color palette is at turns warm golds, stark blueish grays and dark, dark, dark ominous black. Though much, if not all of the film was likely shot before a green screen it has the depth and texture of not real life but of dream. And not that sweet stereotypical kind of dreamland, nor the terrifying horror-scape of nightmare. The creatures, and costuming is genius. A mix of Circ du Soleil and um….Picasso?

This movie is not going to please everyone, especially those wanting action-packed thrills. It does have a few moments where it drags on a little. However, they don’t last and the fact that you really cannot predict what turn it will take make up for them. The dialog is sparse, but keeps you listening for clues that help make sense of the visuals. There are a LOT of visual puns (in the tradition of Monty Python) and some amusing dialogue in spots too. I have a feeling that there are a lot of inside jokes that readers of Gaiman and his ilk recognize and appreciate. Oh and the acting is not bad either. The girl has an ethereal, quality mixed with a sort of innocence on the edge of being a very bad girl.

The story itself resembles Alice Through the Looking Glass more than The Wizard of Oz, to which it’s been compared. It’s a simple archetypal tale really. I’d say it is suitable for kids over say 9-10 who aren’t bothered much by frightening situations. Like I said, no blood and guts, sex (or innuendos) or foul language (that I recall). There are though some bad things happening to some characters…mostly implied.

I am just floored by the creativity of today’s filmakers, in awe. Go see it.

The official site: