In an attempt to bring more music related content to the site (I’ve already begun if you haven’t noticed before), I am going to review IMAGINAERIUM. Though it was originally released in 2012-2013, it wasn’t until June of last year that it was finally released here in the U.S. (far too quietly in my opinion). Being a major fan of Nighwish, it’s my duty to help bring awareness to the band and the film as I can. In fact, February 26 the band will be performing at The Royal Oak Music Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan and I’m sure it’s a show you won’t want to miss. So let’s turn our attention to IMAGINAERIUM and discuss if it’s worth investing your time in.
Thomas Whitman (Francis X. McCarthy) is a retired musician who is now suffering from dementia in his old age. After having yet another stroke, he’s hospitalized and his doctor recommends the plug be pulled. His estranged daughter, Gem (Marianne Farley) is left in charge of his estate. She resents him for never being around when growing up and hates the fact she has to deal with his affairs. Inside the dreamscape of Thomas’ mind, his ten year old self (played by Quinn Lord) goes on a dark journey through a nightmarish landscape, led by a twisted snowman, he attempts to piece together his troubled life. In the real world, Gem meets with Ann (Joanna Noyes), his former band mate and the one person who knew him best. When Gem’s mother died in a tragic accident, Thomas was touring with Ann, thus beginning her lifetime of hatred for her dad. While Gem is learning about her father, the young Thomas in the fantasy world is fighting to break the hold on his own demons trapping himself in his own mind.
First-time feature director Stobe Harju developed the film with Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, who also appear in it briefly. Since the film is very much music driven, it does at times tend to feel like an overly long music video. It also happens to be visually stunning, the nightmarish fantasy world created is a darkly beautiful masterpiece. There’s some questionable CGI but it’s easily overlooked when you feast your eyes on the rest of the marvels the film has to offer. The story was conceived by Harju and Nightwish’s Tuomas Holopainen with a script by Harju, Mikko Rautalahti, and Richard Jackson. It tends to be a bit predictable and one of the major moments in the film comes off as being forced. With those minor gripes aside, Imaginaerum is a real treat, a dark fantasy appealing to both children and adults. Nightwish fans may be more receptive since their stamp is all over this thing. Band members Holopainen and (former vocalist) Anette Olzon appear as younger versions of Thomas and Ann. Quinn Lord (who played Sam in the modern horror classic Trick R’ Treat) carries the first half of the film and is a star on the rise. Stobe Harju is a director with a keen eye and has an imaginative vision, and I have no problem calling Imaginaerum a major success.