Welcome to Marwen review: Trauma and toys dont play well together Welcome to Marwen is a rare kind of film nowadays: Its filled with gorgeous CGI effects, yet its refreshingly not a superhero movie, a film that takes place among the stars or an animated tale. Instead its based on the real story of Mark Hogancamp, who was savagely beaten outside a New York bar in 2000 in an attack that led to severe memory loss. As part of his therapy, hebuilds a small World War II-era village out of toys.Director Robert Zemeckis essentially merges two movies. One re-creates Hogancamps life, featuring Steve Carrellin a solid performance as the trauma victim who struggles to push forward since the attack. The other centers on Marwen, Hogancamps World War II-era toy village, where Carrells doll counterpart Hoagie is the one man leading an all-woman army, with each character based on a woman from his life.The overambitious combination doesnt always work, though, as the two stories feel compressed, giving the illustrious cast featuring Gwendoline Christie, Janelle Mon\u00e1e, Leslie Mann, Eiza Gonz\u00e1lez, Merritt Wever and Leslie Zemeckis very little development time in either doll or non-doll form.Manns Nicol, a new neighbor of Hogancamps who he quickly re-creates in doll form, gets the most attention of all the female characters in both storylines -- and it feels strange, as the rest of the characters appear to take a backseat.Hogancamp envisions a great love story for himself and Nicol, but its tinged with creepiness from the outset. On one hand, perhaps viewers should feel sympathy for his misguided attempts to reconnect with romance. On the other, the literal objectification of Nicol may cause them to root for Hogancamp a bit less.The overall fictional story of Marwen is a fun watch, but the longer doll-oriented action sequences near the end of the film appear to serve mostly as a distraction from the real-life segments. In particular, Deja, a doll-only role played by Diane Kruger, literally floats in and out of both the real-life and Marwen plots seemingly randomly.Despite the movie juggling too much, the doll sequences are beautiful, featuring characters that manage to be expressive despite their shiny plastic bodies. Clothes, hair and stilettos are full of detail, with nice touches that enhance Marwen (for instance, the village fountain spouts large water drops relative to the dolls size).In a world where movies are coming closer than ever to using CGI to re-create people entirely, this film gets to nearly do that without running the risk of an uncanny valley effect, since people are clearly represented as toys.Oh, and dont let the toy angle trick you into thinking this is a story for children. While the films rated PG-13 in the US, the attack on Hogancamp is brutal, the doll sequences have more blood and dismemberment than youd expect and theres a cheesy porn sequence.Welcome to Marwen is out in the US on Friday, the UK on Jan. 1 and Australia on Jan. 10.Culture: Your hub for everything from film and television to music, comics, toys and sports.Movie Magic: The secrets behind the scenes of your favorite films and filmmakers.