Coraline

Posted on: 07/23/09 by Vince Sales

In this rapidly changing digital world, it's a great comfort to see old arts like stop motion animation still alive. Henry Selick's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman children's novel, Coraline, sees the master behind A Nightmare Before Christmas in winning form. It's not his greatest, but it's great to watch.

Coraline is Henry Selick's first full-length feature film since James and Giant Peach. Selick plus Coraline is a match made in heaven. In equal parts dark and magical, it's fertile ground for Selick's claymation to run wild.

With Gaiman's rock star status in the Philippines, Coraline needs no introduction. Some have called the book the Alice In Wonderland of its generation. Like Alice, it follows the adventures of a young girl who discovers a hidden doorway in her new home and into another world, eerily similar to her own, yet better, more magical and more sinister.

The similarities end here though. In this other world, she meets versions of the people in her life, her "other mother" and "other father" - identical to the real thing except for stuffed toy-esque button eyes - as well as a motley crew of neighbors and a talking cat. It's a dream come true for Coraline, but her other mother wants her to stay in exchange for replacing her eyes with big shiny black buttons...

The voice acting features the incomparable Dakota Fanning as Coraline, and Teri Hatcher as both Coraline's mother and other mother. While Fanning seems like a solid choice for Coraline, her voice acting comes out one-dimensional, making Coraline more cheerful than the moody, conflicted Coraline in the book.

Changes to the screenplay were a necessity since the book was too short for a feature length film, so a new character and new scenes appear in the movie. These changes mostly work, so full credit goes to Selick and crew. Purists will complain, no doubt, and we'll admit that the pacing does slow down at times.

The animation behind Coraline is, of course, the leading character in this movie, and you won't be disappointed. Scenes like the mouse circus and the other mother's insectoid sitting room are scenes that will stay with you whether you're 5 or 50 years old.

Horror is arguably the genre Coraline plays in, and Coraline the movie delivers the horror with mixed results. The crawling hand sequences are much more terrifying in the book - these scenes are lukewarm scary in the film - but other scenes, such as seeing the mice turn into rats are taken to another level when you actually see it.

It's a shame that the DVD and Blu-ray came out before the theatrical release in the Philippines, but if you can't wait to watch this movie, grab the discs if you can. A 3D DVD has also been released if you want to watch it in 3D, or wait for the movie to come out in digital 3D cinemas this August.

 

Overall
star_on star_on star_on star_on star_off
+
  • Old school claymation. You can't beat it
  • Henry Selick's best-looking movie yet
-
  • The skimpy plot has been padded and stretched
  • Voice acting is a little flat
Bottom Line
  • It's great to see Coraline come to life in clay. It's simultaneously less frightening and more horrific than the book. It falls short of Henry Selick's greatest in some respects, but is nevertheless worth watching and re-watching

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Coraline 01

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Coraline 02

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Coraline 03

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Coraline 04

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Coraline 05

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Coraline 06

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Coraline 07

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Coraline 08

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Coraline 09

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Coraline 10

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