Starring: Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon Director: Dave McKean The film: Sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman made his mark with the celebrated - and dark - Sandman series, but has had some success in the film world, most notably writing Hayao Miyazaki's superb box office smash Princess Mononoke (1997). Mirrormask is pure fantasy, with all the trappings. And with Gaiman's take on things - both real and imagined - you'll never be sure what you're about to get. The story is set around a growing girl, Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), who wants to run away from the circus that has always been her life and join the real world. When her mother falls ill, the girl reacts by moving into an alternative universe, the Dark Lands, which mirrors her drawings - and in many ways mirrors her life. The Queen is much like her mum; the princess much like her. Only darker. Thanks to the creative geniuses at the Jim Henson Company, the new world is full of oddities - the likes of flying monkeybirds, people wearing all kinds of masks, cats with human faces and books that fly. And as Helena's two worlds slowly begin to merge, we get to see what's at the heart of the whole thing. It's a good, old-fashioned tale about enjoying what you have, and not longing for what you want - or think you want. Think of an updated version of Wizard of Oz. Without the wizard. Or that annoying little dog. And set in Brighton (cue seagulls). Granted, there are times when the evil princess (also played by Leonidas) seems to be having much more fun than Helena ever could. But that's beside the point. Good girls get their rewards. Eventually. Don't they? Leonidas - older than the 15-year-old she's playing - brings enough adolescent angst to her main role to make it thoroughly convincing. And the filmmakers are smart enough to keep things rolling along - and to introduce interesting characters - so that your mind soon skips over the film's few moments of confusion. The soundtrack - provided by composer Iain Ballamy - will take you to the ringside of the Cirque de Soleil, if ever you've been. And - like those celebrated circus performances - it adds to the sense of the bizarre. Gaiman and McKean have created a little bit of magic of their own. The extras: If the magic of the film itself isn't enough to take you away, the extras peer in on the making of some pivotal scenes - including the breathtaking Flight of the Monkey-birds - while covering interviews and commentaries. There's also an in-depth Q&A session held at the Sand Diego Comic convention, where the nerds come out from the shadows. The verdict: A little creepy at times, but also a little bit good.