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Non-Review Review: Coraline

I checked out Coraline in 3D on Friday night there in Cineworld. While I have my own thoughts on the format that I will talk about next week, I have to say that the film is – in one word – magical. The better half completely agreed with me here. I think it may be the best stop-motion production that I have ever seen – and this is from a guy who counts The Nightmare Before Christmas as must-watch seasonal entertainment. It really was one of the cinematic highlights of the year.

Cute as a button...

Cute as a button...

The less said about the film and plot itself, the better, but it reminded both myself and the girlfriend of a classical fairytale in structure and theme. Not so much a modern Disney-fied version of any of those tales, but the original Grimm versions. The stories in which children are threatened by truly dark and sinister forces. Which is fitting, of course, given it comes from perhaps the only author working today who produces true fairy tales, Neil Gaiman. Off the strength of this adaptation, I’d almost consider HBO’s Sandman to be a good idea. Someone at work suggested she’d feel hesitant to take a young child to it, and she’s right. It can be quite tense and unnerving (but never really anything more), so that might scare children under the age of around 8 . Still, my younger sister saw it before I did and came out raving.

As we’ve come to expect from Henry Sellick, the design is breathtaking – so is the atmosphere. We can tell that tere is something strange about Coraline’s ethereal world almost from the get-go simply because of how it looks and feels, though we can’t pinpoint why exactly. The music is haunting throughout. The performances are great, particularly from Teri Hatcher and Ian McShane – the casting is spot on even for fringe characters, with the melodious Kieth David voicing a Cheshire Cat and French and Saunders as a couple of old actresses. Dakota Fanning continues to be one of the most talented child actors out there.

The 3D is immersive, but not intrusive. It never screams ‘look at me’ or is used for cheap shots like objects flying at the audience. Instead it contributes to the magical atmosphere, giving a great sense of scale. I’ll concede that I did not notice any colour desaturation of the kind that critics use to lambaste the medium, but I will also suggest that (for the most part) the colour scheme is very dark, so that may work in the film’s favour.

In short, this truly is a magical fairytale come to life, and undobtedly one of the finest films of the year. Check it out if any part of you still remembers hiding under the covers while being told some deep, dark, haunted fairtytales. 

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Coraline is a stop-motion fantasy film directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach), starring Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives, Tomorrow Never Dies), Jennifer Saunders (French & Saunders, Friends), Dawn French (French & Saunders, The Vicar of Dibley), Ian McShane (Lovejoy, Deadwood), Keith David (Requiem for a Dream, Crash) and Dakota Fanning (Push). It was released in the US on the 6th February 2009, and opened in the UK and Ireland on the 8th May 2009.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Black (Tropic Thunder, School of Rock), Dustin Hoffman (Rainman, Kramer v. Kramer), Ian McShane (Coraline, Deadwood), James Hong (Bladerunner, Wayne’s World II), Angelina Jolie (Wanted, Gia), Jackie […]

  2. […] Gaiman has shot to prominence lately as the author of Coraline and The Graveyard Book. There’s a rumour I’m particularly fond of which suggests that […]

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