Elsewhere some people have been less than impressed with this, but we found it to be such a visual and intelligent feast of cinema that we fell for it completely. Of course it may help that we have a certain sympathy for the views of Mr Kermode (who I know isn't everyone's taste). But more importantly we had also been tipped off on how good it was by some friends whose opinions we value (N&S that means you!).
So for those who haven't yet indulged, what should you expect?
Well it is bleak: there isn't a lot of laughter in the film and there is plenty of the kind of gruesome violence that fairy tales and myths historically have indulged in. Don't forget the woman who danced herself to death in a pair of shoes that shredded her feet to a bloody pulp (something I always re-imagine when reading the Calliope story by Neil Gaiman).
It also needs to be said that the trailer is somewhat misleading: it is much more than a fantasy film as a large proportion of the narrative concerns the life of a young girl in 1944 under Fascist rule. It is violent, political, historical and (can I say it again?) violent. Disturbingly so. The violence is casual, brutal and utterly appropriate. But there is a violence to the fantasy sequences as well as they highlight that trait mentioned above about fairy tales. Monsters are scary. Really scary. And the ones here are amongst some of the most scary I have seen on screen in a while.
I'd also say take a hankie. It gets weepie (but not, I would say, in a sentimentally gushy way). You may also need to be aware that you may feel the urge to cheer at what happens to some characters, so unrelently evil is the way they are portrayed. But this should not suggest that this is a weak and simplistic representation, but rather it is extreme.
The acting was very good, and the special effects make you realise just how overblown and poor so many effects-driven films can be. This, in contrast, is convincing and beautiful to watch, and will probably remain so for far longer.