Man that’s a tough question! I think Mirrormask is interesting mostly because it had potential. Personally I feel like it’s an unpolished gem that didn’t really get enough refinement. For the most part I like the story (With a few exceptions) it’s in its execution that it falls flat. So for me, even though it’s kinda dull I would never tell someone to avoid it completely. I find it interesting to watch and discuss what is working, what isn’t, what they could’ve done to fix it… etc.
If you have a group of friends who like discussing movies and are okay with sitting through some dull scenes, it might be worth a look! I’m not sure I can recommend it as a solo watch, as I don’t know how entertaining it would be for just one person to view. Having friends to wisecrack with can make the worst movie a bit easier to get through! It has a more serious tone than Labyrinth too, so people shouldn’t go in expecting the same sort of movie despite it being a spiritual successor. It’d be interesting to do a triple feature of the Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and MirrorMask in one night.
All that said, Mirrormask is considered by some to be a cult classic, so you might watch it and completely love it! Cult classics by nature can be pretty polarizing like that. There are things to like in Mirrormask, I just find there aren’t enough for me personally.
Regarding Return to Labyrinth, same sorta thing with Mirrormask. I can’t 100% recommend it, but like Mirrormask it also generates thoughts in my head about what I like, what I don’t like, and what I would do differently. I find it interesting to see what elements of the original movie the author decided to embellish, what they chose to focus on… how they interpreted the world of the Labyrinth and seeing how they decided to expand on the original movie, that is more interesting to me than the actual story the author put on the page. So despite the story being kinda odd, I still find it an interesting read, though not for the reasons the authors originally intended.
If you can get it for cheap somewhere, I say maybe give it a shot, but go in with lowered expectations. The last two volumes get pretty wordy, so I’d recommend taking them slow, otherwise it’s easy to get a bit lost.
To make this post even longer (Sorry!), if you haven’t already I would check out the novelization of the movie by A.C.H Smith. It elaborates more on Sarah’s relationship with her mother and you get to see how that relationship is really key to why Sarah is who she is. It explains her motivations a lot more and makes her a lot more likeable. She’s a bit bratty in the beginning of the film and you can kinda connect the dots as to why (The news clippings in her room idolizing her mom is the main one to catch), but in the novelization it really clearly spells out how she’s still trying to come to terms with her parents divorce in the book and how this event is affecting every relationship in her life.
Funny enough but after we recorded this podcast I told Genghis “We might need to do another Labyrinth one”, specifically because I didn’t get a chance to talk about the novelization! There’s a few key moments I’d like to point out if given the chance. However we don’t want to do two Labyrinth podcasts in a row, so that’ll have to come at a later date!