Coraline (Movie Review)

Coraline (Movie Review)

Neil Gaiman is a science fiction/fantasy author who has found great success as a screen writer in recent years with such films as Stardust, Beowulf, and now Coraline, the lattermost of which is a 3-D stop motion feature film helmed by Henry Selick, the silent man behind The Nightmare Before Christmas. While I can't speak for Beowulf, Gaiman certainly has a knack for taking the common fable, sprucing it up with occasionally dark imagery and sharp wit, and using it to pierce the heart of this tired cynic who under normal circumstances would never admit to liking a film that featured Robert DeNiro playing a queer captain of a flying pirate ship. So while Coraline suffers from not featuring a gay swashbuckler voiced by Robert DeNiro, it's a comparatively minute concession.

However what Coraline does feature is a young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who moves into a musty pink apartment complex with her dull as dishwater parents. While exploring the house in a bid to remedy clinical strength boredom, she discovers a small locked door hidden in an empty room. When she manages to open the door, there's unfortunately nothing to be found but a wall of bricks. Resigned to her bed for the evening, she doses off only to be beckoned back to the hole in the wall by a mischievous mouse in the middle of the night. The bricks have magically disappeared, replaced by a portal to a parallel universe where her "other parents" live; a parallel universe where everyone has buttons for eyes and is unconditionally cheery.

If this were 2006, I'd remark that the story is "resoundingly imaginative", or use other such hackneyed phrases to describe it. However if you've seen Pan's Labyrinth, it's incredibly hard not to draw parallels between the two films. Both movies feature a young female protagonist with a vivid imagination, they both live dreary lives in the real world whilst yearning to visit their recently discovered land of fantasy, and they both undergo similar trials in order to restore balance to their lives. The only real difference is detail and context; thematically they're virtually identical. It's not plagiarism by any means, but Coraline's supernatural and haunting atmosphere is very resonant of other films.

image
Probably the film Pixar would make if they ever played with plasticine

The visual design is superb (as if that would've been a surprise to anyone). Character models are immaculately detailed with fluent motion, and the overall design achieves a charming balance that is eccentric without being overbearing or affronting (traits I criticize Tim Burton's Corpse Bride for). Unfortunately, the audio leaves a bit to be desired. The music is excellent, but the depth of sound is shallow and the foley artistry is rather poor, using too few samples repeated too often. Voice acting is also fairly standard, except for Teri Hatcher who excels at sounding eerily perky.

Coarline can be viewed in 3-D, though I'm not entirely sure it makes the most of it. Whether or not the intention was to use 3-D to create a dimension that feels entirely natural or just to heighten the few ostensible displays of the technology is up for debate. There are moments where it's used exceptionally well, but it doesn't rely solely on 3-D to sell tickets (see: My Bloody Valentine 3-D). Seeing the film in normal 2-D doesn't take anything away from the experience, largely because it's a marvel no matter which way you slice it. Coraline is a truly great cinematic fable that's certainly worth a look regardless of circumstance.

Is this a review or a technological analyzation, I can't tell. Definitly not enough for a review.

NoMoreSanity:
Is this a review or a technological analyzation, I can't tell. Definitly not enough for a review.

I covered story, plot, acting, visual design, sound design, a bit of background information, offered my thoughts, and wrapped it up. I don't think I missed anything...

I loved the book, love Niel Gaiman and I love Tim Burton. This is a must see for me.

Great review by the way. It has to be said though, Coraline the book was written several years before Pans Labyrinth the film (I'm not sure if thats a book adaption)

NoMoreSanity:
Is this a review or a technological analyzation, I can't tell. Definitly not enough for a review.

Yes, I think it is. My university does a student newspaper each week that has an entertainment section, LS2 (the university is Leeds, the paper is called LS, or Leeds Student). The reviews in that are usually shortr than this, and so are many reviews I see on the internet and in various mainstream newspapers. This is a decent length for a review (in fact I reviewed a theatre performance for said student paper once, ended up being too long, and it wasn't much longer than this one...).

a resounding "meh" apparently

SomeBritishDude:
I love Tim Burton.

As do I.

I was hoping to see you write a review for this :D

I absolutely loved the book, Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors ever. I'm just wondering how much of a departure the film is going to be from the book (I haven't seen the movie yet). For instance, I doubt in the movie

As far as I can tell from the trailers, it's quite different, and I can't help but be a little dissapointed. Hopefully I can enjoy the movie anyway.

Trivun:
This is a decent length for a review (in fact I reviewed a theatre performance for said student paper once, ended up being too long, and it wasn't much longer than this one...).

If you've run out of things to say, it doesn't make any sense to pad out the length for no reason. I've been taught to say as much as you can using as few words as possible (though I make a point to never have a word count under 500 for a film review). If I really wanted to, I could muse on the story for an extra couple hundred words, but that defeats the point of having a succinct synopsis in my eyes.

ThaBenMan:

Maet:

ThaBenMan:

Yeah, I can understand how some people actually want the movie to be different from the book - I think I read somewhere that the outline that the director originally had was too similar for Gaiman's liking, so he had him change it. But, I guess I'm not one of those people :/

And you should definitely read the book, it's great (and pretty short, too).

Maet:

NoMoreSanity:
Is this a review or a technological analyzation, I can't tell. Definitly not enough for a review.

I covered story, plot, acting, visual design, sound design, a bit of background information, offered my thoughts, and wrapped it up. I don't think I missed anything...

Trivun:

NoMoreSanity:
Is this a review or a technological analyzation, I can't tell. Definitly not enough for a review.

Yes, I think it is. My university does a student newspaper each week that has an entertainment section, LS2 (the university is Leeds, the paper is called LS, or Leeds Student). The reviews in that are usually shortr than this, and so are many reviews I see on the internet and in various mainstream newspapers. This is a decent length for a review (in fact I reviewed a theatre performance for said student paper once, ended up being too long, and it wasn't much longer than this one...).

Well, movie reviews I usually read or longer. Just thought you spent too much time on the visuals, but this was a good review still. I'll be sure to watch this movie.

Is it just me or does the title sound like it was typed by someone battling dyslexia?

Because I'm pretty sure the name is Caroline...

ElephantGuts:
Is it just me or does the title sound like it was typed by someone battling dyslexia?

Because I'm pretty sure the name is Caroline...

Oh, it's definitely "Coraline". It's kinda funny you say that - in the book people are always calling her "Caroline", but she always corrects them.

Maet:

Coraline (Movie Review)
If this were 2006, I'd remark that the story is "resoundingly imaginative", or use other such hackneyed phrases to describe it. However if you've seen Pan's Labyrinth, it's incredibly hard not to draw parallels between the two films. Both movies feature a young female protagonist with a vivid imagination, they both live dreary lives in the real world whilst yearning to visit their recently discovered land of fantasy, and they both undergo similar trials in order to restore balance to their lives. The only real difference is detail and context; thematically they're virtually identical. It's not plagiarism by any means, but Coraline's supernatural and haunting atmosphere is very resonant of other films.

Coraline is an adaptation of a book written in like 01 dude, if anything Pans labyrinth is ripping it off.

Souplex:
Coraline is an adaptation of a book written in like 01 dude, if anything Pans labyrinth is ripping it off.

I never said it was a "rip off", and I was very careful to avoid saying that directly. I simply mentioned that they're very similar and that it's hard not to think of one when you have the other in mind. It's just resemblance.

I suppose it's worth keeping in mind that I make such statements considering only the films and not their source material.

you watch lot of movies don't you?

I heard nothing of "Coraline" until a friend briefly mentioned it.
I still have no idea what it is, but your review of a spectacular and whimsical animated film has definitely piqued my interest.

Great review, well put and straight to the point.

Looks interesting, and the sort of thing I would love to watch; thanks for the heads-up, and I will keep an eye out for it.

As for Beowulf, it was a great movie but not by normal hollywood standards. It was following extremely accurately the poem, but in doing this, it caused a 20-year time-shift to take place in the space between 2 shots, without even telling you that in the first place.
You really have to have read the poem to understand and appreciate the movie well, and that was its failing.

I just saw it earlier tonight - it was actually really good, I was pleasantly surprised. And I loved the music, I'll probably pick up the OST if there is one.

Well, as long as it isn't a goddamn musical...

Hankage:
Well, as long as it isn't a goddamn musical...

No, it definitely is not. I hate musicals as well.

ThaBenMan:

Hankage:
Well, as long as it isn't a goddamn musical...

No, it definitely is not. I hate musicals as well.

Pah! Musicals are awesome, just not so much in animated form. The essence of a musical lies in the spontaneity, which is hard to convincingly evoke in such a rigid and meticulous form as animation.

My Fair Lady (1964) is one of my favourite movies because it combines song and dance with English grammar. Can't get much better than that.

I saw this the other day and really enjoyed it. It evoked a lot of other films(not to mention a few videogames) but regardless worked very well. I particularly liked how the other world was fascinating with an undercurrent of creepy. And then later the other world just becomes creepy as hell(I think the button eyes did a lot for that). So, yeah, I loved it.

I'm not really sure if it should be considered a childrens movie, since most children will probably have nightmares after seeing Coraline.

Jagers1994:

SomeBritishDude:
I love Tim Burton.

As do I.

cept Tim Burton doesn't have anything to do with this movie, it's just his stop motion company

also i don't believe you didn't mention John Hodgman is in the movie, which makes it even more awesome. as for the 3D effects, i think they could have used more or done it better but there were some good spots in it for 3D effects, i thought My Bloody Valentine did a better job of the 3d tho

also the story is no where near a copy of Pan's Labyrinth, it's a rather common theme of most stories not just Pan's and isn't restricted to girls, look at the Harry Potter stories

 

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