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THE LAST MIMZY

Review by Ed Nguyen

Stars: Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, Chris O'Neil, Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Clarke Duncan
Director: Robert Shaye
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX or stereo surround
Subtitles: English close captions
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen
Studio: New Line
Features: Director commentary, dozen featurettes, trailers, music video, deleted scenes, three interactive games
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: July 10, 2007

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

Film ***

There is a story, young listeners, of a long ago time when the soul of the planet was sick.  People had become isolated and war-like.  The world was frightened and dying, but a great scientist was trying to save his people.  He had tried many times and he knew he could try only once more.  This was the last mimzy.

So began the story of how children of the world's past found courage and fortitude where adults could not, reading in nature's ciphers the patterns that would redress the world's wounds.

Two they were, a brother and his sister, assiduous progeny of indifferent parents long since subjugated by the mundane affairs of their own society.  But these children, as did many such innocents, retained open minds not yet vexed by the prejudices of the blighted adult world about them.  These children - the girl Emma who would be kindred mother to all, the boy Noah who in leavened clarity would uncover the secrets of the doorway through time and space - upon them would the mimzy bestow her treasures.

And so with simplicity itself did the scientist's mimzy arrive one day by sea, encased in a chrysalis of hermetic mysteries, a boon upon mercurial waves, parting the shore's sands before the hands of the boy Noah.  Its layers unfolding as petals upon the dawn, its contents astir at last with the excitement of friends greeting one another, mimzy's carriage had endured the passage of time and anticipation to reach Noah and his sister.  And within this vessel was gentle mimzy herself, whose outwardly guise as a toy rabbit was both pleasant and agreeable to the children.

Mimzy's ephemeral appearance must surely have seemed to the children as if of uncommon magic, a seraph sui generis.  She came bearing gifts, and later in their private sanctuary of toys, chockablock with such cherished souvenirs of youth, the children sorted through mimzy's gifts which soon would supplant their own plastic and electronic contraptions of amusement and distraction.  Mimzy offered a crystalline oracle to the boy, and it vibrated with poems of worldly patterns, of colors and shapes embroidered upon nature's tapestry.  She offered a seashell that sang truly of canticles, that the boy Noah might learn to sing as well, evensong to weave the fabrics of space, evensong to awaken the slumbering.  For the girl Emma, she offered dancing stones that, upon a whisper, summoned forth panoramas of which the children had never before witnessed.  And mimzy offered herself.

Though mimzy could neither move nor speak, the girl Emma could hear her voice, hear her quiet pleas.  Alone, mimzy was helpless, for she was but an inanimate toy.  Still, she could teach the children, though there was so little time and so much to learn.  Noah and Emma could keep her secret, keep her safe, this mimzy with soothing words of the inward eye, revealing a task most essential.

What did the mimzy seek?  How to portray such complex abstractions into words and images that young Noah and Emma might understand?  Mimzy sought the path to elysium. She sought the essence of a young girl's tears.  She sought the secret words of compassion and kindness.  She sought a medicine for melancholy, that her world's future, where a deluge of contaminations of the mind and spirit had spread as if through the pall of contagion, might be delivered back into health.

Her gifts were more than simple recreations.  In union, they formed a key, melody and descant, a safe passage through a condensation of penumbras and mandalas.  Only with the children's help could the mimzy, the final hope, discover that which she sought.

So was the story of the last mimzy, an ancient story beyond the memories of the oldest trees, a story embedded in a forgotten history of the world past.  For indeed, the last mimzy was old, but then the children Noah and Emma were much older still.  Their story may seem one of legend, yet were it not founded in fundamental truth, then none now would live to know of it.

Because we live, because we breathe cleanly and freely, then we know that once, a great scientist had tried to save the world and had not toiled in vain.  We know that his last mimzy, having suffered time and cherished tears of sorrow and regret, had returned safely, fulfilling her quest with dignity.  And we know that once, two children had sacrificed of themselves and borne a wisdom far greater than any adult's to save the world, theirs and ours.

Video ****

The Last Mimzy looks great with a pristine transfer and solid color hues.  Images also hold up well during camera pans of the complicated special effects.  For the best viewing experience, however, get the widescreen version.

Audio ****

The Last Mimzy boasts an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround sound track along with an optional stereo surround track.  The film makes inventive usage of some very unusual sound effects unlike any viewers may have heard in prior sci-fi or fantasy films.  There is good spatial definition of the audio effects and dialogue.

Features ****

This "Infinifilm" edition of The Last Mimzy contains a wealth of featurettes which can be accessed from within the film or separately through various submenus.  As with most Infinifilm discs, these extras merit an instant four-star rating.  Alas, but also as with most Infinifilm discs, the organization of the various features can be intimidating (but well worth the effort to locate and watch them).

The first set of short featurettes is included under the "Beyond the Movie" submenu.  First is The Mandala: Imaginary Palace (6 min.), which describes the mysticism and psychology behind the traditional mandala, a spiritual representation of the universe and an important symbol for the film.

There are a pair of science lessons 101 (for those who slept through high school science).  In Sound Waves: Listening to the Universe (6 min.), sound designer Dave Davis describes how he created the various sound effects for the film, while a general description of what constitutes "sound" is provided.  DNA: The Human Blueprint (4 min.) provides a general review of the human genome, as expressed in deoxyribonucleic acid (that's DNA).

The Looking Glass: Emma and Alice (2 min.) contrast the film's Emma to Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland.

Nanotechnology: The Human Revolution (3 min.) distinguishes fact from fiction for nanotechnology such as it exists in today's society

In Wormholes: Fantasy or Science (4 min.), Columbia University physics professor Brian Greene discusses the theory of wormholes for time travel.

The remaining featurettes are assembled under the "All Access Pass" sub-section.  In Adapting the Story (14 min.), producer Michale Philips discusses how he stumbled across an original short story by Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore and how the story was subsequently adapted and updated to contemporary times for the film.  This featurette also reveals early drawings of Mimzy.

Bob Shaye: Director profile (9 min.) focuses on the film's director and his efforts to bring this magical film into fruition.  Coincidentally, Shaye is the Co-CEO of New Line Cinemas, so his direct involvement with this film beyond mere producer duties is a true testimony to his passion for the story itself.

Casting the Kids (7 min.) offers interviews with the film's two principal child actors, six-year-old Rhiannon Leigh Wryn and eleven-year-old Chris O'Neil.  Also seen are the children's rather amazing and natural auditions.

Production Design & Concept Art (4 min.) offers numerous concept drawings for the movie.  Artwork includes futuristic designs, the magical box design, the various toys (especially Mimzy), and early CGI effects.

Real is Good: The Visual Effects (8 min.) elaborates on the film's visual effects, from simple levitation shots to complex wormholes.  Revealed are early renderings of various shots and their final composites in the film.

In Editing & Music (13 min.), editor Alan Heim describes the editing process, while composer Howard Shore discusses the film's score and orchestration and the process of balancing music to complement the film's mood or onscreen action.

There are eleven deleted scenes (13 min.) as well as a director's introduction and optional commentary.  Shaye explains how some scenes were re-edited or cut altogether for length or content.  Many of the deleted scenes involve dull grown-up exposition, all rather unnecessary in a children's film.  Snip snip.  Further comments from Bob Shaye can also be heard in his director's commentary for the film itself.

While watching the film, check out the "fact track" option, too.  This bonus feature will call up onscreen trivia notes and prompts from time to time.  Most of these pop-ups provide cute little random details tangential to the plot.  The remaining pop-ups allow viewers to refer quickly to the various aforementioned featurettes before returning to the film.

If you think you're smarter than a fifth-grader, try the various "Interactive Challenge" games.  In Spider Bridge, you must draw a picture (harder than it sounds!).  In Memory Match, you must memorize shapes and place them correctly in a grid.  In Mandala Mix-Up, you must memorize a mandala pattern and match it to another pattern.  Overall, I failed miserably; how will you do? 

Also included is the Roger Waters video Hello (I Love You), which certainly sounds a lot like a Pink Floyd tune.

Lastly, there are trailers for The Last Mimzy, the musical Hairspray, Hoot, How to Eat Fried Worms, TMNT, and Superman: Doomsday.

Summary:

The Last Mimzy is a magical children's fantasy film of uncommon depth and warmth.  It is an excellent addition to New Line's deluxe library of Infinifilm discs.

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