starring Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Rob Brydon, Jason Barry
screenplay by Neil Gaiman
directed by Dave McKean
by Walter Chaw Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are responsible, between the two of them, for one of the seminal works of fiction from the 1990s: a run of comics called "The Sandman" (the success of which moved the World Fantasy Awards to forbid the comic medium from again winning that prize) that proposed a new mythological pantheon, "Endless," to hold sway over the vicissitudes of the world's belief systems. For as long as it lasted, it was an astonishing demonstration of post-mod pop art; with Gaiman writing the text and McKean providing the cover art, the two would collaborate on stand-alone series (like "Violent Cases" and a short run of "Miracle Man"), children's books (Mr. Punch and The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish), and now a feature film and illustrated screenplay, Mirrormask, which finds Gaiman scripting and McKean behind the camera. I wish I could report that the results are more than murky, derivative, and hard to see. Taking place primarily in a digitally-created environment (à la Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), it looks, unfortunately, a lot like it was shot on last-generation digital video--even the non-fantasy portions of Mirrormask deliver the kind of grimy, ugly picture that Robert Rodriguez makes with his children. With a film version of "The Sandman" languishing in near-permanent hiatus, it's a shame that this first cinematic product from two of that project's major players is such a disappointment.