H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def discs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







MirrorMask [Blu-ray]


(Dave McKean, 2005)



Review by Gary Tooze


Studio: Sony

Video: Sony Pictures



Region: FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:40:44

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 28.8 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC


English, French, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Thai (5.1), Spanish (5.1)

Feature: English SDH, English, Dutch, Indonesian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai and none


Director and Writer Audio Commentary
* Neil Talks: interview with writer Neil Gaiman (5:53)
* Dave Talks About Film: interview with director Dave McKean
* Beginnings: the genesis of MirrorMask
* Cast & Crew Interviews (7:45)
* Day 16: time-lapse video of the entire day of production
* Flight of the Monkeybirds: making the Monkeybird sequence (4:11)
* Giants Development: design and creation of the Giants sequence
* Questions & Answers: Q&A sessions at the San Diego Comic-Con (20:25)
* (BD-Live Enabled)


Product Description: The White Queen sleeps and will not wake. Black shadows have fallen across her kingdom. The balance between Dark and Light is broken and only the MIRRORMASK can restore it. So Helena, a stranger in a strange land, embarks on an epic quest to find the missing charm before darkness envelops the Dreamworld forever. Written by award-winning fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, MirrorMask is a phantasmagorical treat for the eyes and mind, a wondrous blend of live action and CG animation, where strange, magical creatures dwell in a fantasy world of unbridled imagination and scope, as told through the spectacular, cutting-edge visuals of designer/director Dave McKean...




The Film:

If I offered the opinion that MirrorMask is an amalgamation of Alice in Wonderland, The NeverEnding Story, The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth, M.C. Escher & Tim Burton, you'd probably be pretty intrigued...if not all that convinced of the film's unique vision and startling presentation. But despite clear "inspiration" from these and numerous other sources, MirrorMask still stands as a powerfully original composition. It's playful, dark and mysterious. It's got a few simple little morals, it's amazingly gorgeous to look at, and it's effortlessly enthralling for 90-some straight minutes. Much of the movie feels comfortably familiar...yet it's certainly unlike anything you've ever seen before.



Perhaps a bit too bizarre for fans of the mainstream fantasy movies, this movie is an absolute cult classic waiting to happen. Equal parts wild adventure and lyrical allegory, MirrorMask puts many of its genre brethren to shame. It's not afraid to delve into true "weirdness," and this approach also serves as a sort of filtering process: make it through the first 30 minutes without rolling your eyes or scratching your head, and you're well on your way to falling in love with this adorably insane movie...

Excerpt from Scoot Weinberg's review at eFilmCritic.com located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I'd say this Blu-ray transfer is fairly mediocre. There is so much style and technique in the film it's hard to rate it faithfully against other transfers - but the less-effects-driven scenes are moderately impressive with healthy detail and a bit of a muted palette. Some will love the unique look of the dream-sequences and the Blu-ray which, along with the audio, creates quite a substantial art-infused environment. I wasn't as keen on the film which had no strong appeal personally speaking. The image even shows some decent depth and contrast may be the weakest visual element. Background noise exists - more in monochromatic scenes. The image clean and smooth. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a strong 28.8 Gig. I don't see evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. Complaints would be more accurately suited to the MirrorMask's style - I think the transfer is decent and relatively flawless.


















Audio & Music:  
The TrueHD was quite active with effects sounds coming out of all speakers. I preferred the
subtleties although when more aggressive mix was activated the the track responded generously. I wasn't super-keen on Iain Ballamy original music but admit that it seemed appropriate for the film narrative. There are two TrueHD foreign language DUBs as well as standard 5.1 offerings and subtitles are offered in
English, and other language options.


Aside from the McKean/Gaiman commentary - which would have been more interesting to me had I enjoyed the film more - there is a Q+A, from a ComicCon in San Diego, and a number of short featurettes on production and the cast. Nothing - aside from a trailer for Waterhorse is in HD. I suspect if you enjoyed the film then the supplements should interest you and perhaps add to your appreciation. I'll admit this appeared to be a very focused work effort by the filmmakers.




Bottom line:
think there are things to enjoy about MirrorMask but they just didn't gel together for me personally. The film's heavy style can occasionally look hypnotic on Blu-ray. It's a bit of a visual foray in 1080P and this may be worth checking out for some despite my reservations about the final product. Certainly it's unique qualities are something that many will appreciate and the Blu-ray is a very competent package from Sony.

Gary Tooze

November 13th, 2008





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