Imaginaerum by Nightwish - Ice Block Quickie

Overly Reductive Plot Summary

A dying ex-musician traverses a nightmare dreamscape as he reconciles the quickly-fading memories of his father's suicide and his estranged daughter. Meanwhile, his daughter discovers the distance between them was never as great as she thought it was.

Significant For...

Being awesome.

The movie is simply awesome. We are not Nightwish fans (or, by any stretch, Nightwish detractors) but that doesn't matter. This movie is awesome.

Well, let's temper enthusiasm a bit. It's drifty, dreamy and abstract with a greater focus on mood than on writing or performance. But as far as Finnish-Canadian musical fantasies developed by metal bands go, this is the creme de la crop.

The Entire Film In 3 Images

Elements Of The Film (Ranked On A Hair Metal Scale of 1 to 5)

  1. The acting is bad and the dialog is clunky. And that's being generous.
  2. The effects on the snowman are fine enough, unless you've seen Green Jello's Flight of the Skajaquada.
  3. The story unfolds with little exposition. Most of the key plot points are scattered and related more in emotional ways than in literal ways. It's ambitious and results in viewers being rewarded for repeat screenings as they'll have a better grasp of character and relations the more they watch. However, a key plot point turns out to be integrally related to the main character's name, which is a bit awkward. Through all the drifty dreamy abstraction, her name (or even who she is from scene to scene) isn't entirely clear.
  4. The soundscape is explosive. They put much more care into the sound design than one normally expects from a low-budget production.
  5. This film stretches its $3.7m budget to the limit, delivering a wealth of high-concept set-pieces. The edges might be rough on some of the visual effects when compared with $100m films, but the ideas are all there and the execution is a parade of cost-efficient brilliance.

Final Verdict

This film is more than the sum of its parts. The story is strange, but in that strangeness, it's also unique and singular in the world of cinema. While the dream segments are beautifully surreal, there's a certain silliness to the real-world segments that could only come from a movie concocted by a band. But, there's also a world-view unique to this film that can't be found in movies workshopped endlessly in a writers' room. Finland is a long way from the usual basket of tired Hollywood tropes.

In short, this is exactly the movie that a Scandinavian symphonic metal band would make if they were given 3.7 million dollars and then moved production to Canada to take advantage of the local tax breaks. If you've already seen that movie, you can skip this one. If not, seek ye Imaginaerum.