April 27, 2010



This film is animated in the style of The Nightmare Before Christmas and it enjoys the same sort of feel.  Based off of a children’s story by Neil Gaiman, this story comes to life like he can only tell it.  Keeping it light hearted at times and creepy at others.  It flows through two whimsical worlds in a clash of good versus evil.

The story starts out with Coraline and her family moving into an apartment.  Coraline, bored and ignored by her parents, wanders off to do some dousing for water and she runs into the grandson of the lady who owns the place.  Wybie is surprised that his grandmother rented the place to a family as she doesn’t like to have kids around.  That night Coraline is awoken by some mice who lead her to a small doorway hidden in the living room.  She opens the door and finds a tunnel into another world, which is just like her own world, only one small difference, everyone has buttons for eyes.  Her parents are in this world, but they are nicer and kinder to Coraline then before and want to spend time with her.  She finally crawls off to bed and wakes up back in her own world.  Coraline goes and visits tenants of the apartment, a man who trains mice and two retired actresses and their Scottie dogs.  She runs across Wybie again who says that the reason his grandmother doesn’t allow him into the apartment is because she doesn’t want him to disappear like her twin sister.  That night Coraline again follows the mice where she meets a button eyed version of Wybie and they enjoy shows from the tenants in the other world.  The other mother asks Coraline to stay, but there is a catch, her eyes have to be replaced by buttons.  Coraline, and a cat who appears in both worlds, tries to go back to her original world, but the door is locked, so she leaves the apartments and walks away until the world starts to disappear around her.  The other mother catches her and puts her behind a mirror where she meets three ghosts and finds out the truth about the other mother.  She then has to figure out a way to save everyone and everything from the growing power of the other mother.

The voice talent in this film is very entertaining.  Dakota Fanning voice Coraline and does a very good job at it.  Her voice flows into the curious character of Coraline and matches her actions wonderfully.  Robert Bailey Jr. voices Wybie and while being much less of a known acting commodity, he does a good job, bordering on annoying and then scared as Wybie does throughout the film.  Teri Hatcher plays Coraline’s mother and other mother.  She is the other big name talent in this film and she does a great job of going from uncaring, with the mother, to sickeningly sweet and terrifying with the other mother.  Keith David is the last name that I’ll mention in terms of voice talent.  He gives voice to the cat and does a great job at it.  He comes across as slightly haughty, disinterested, and generally cat like throughout the whole thing making little quips and explaining things that he believes Coraline should already know.

Visually this film is very well done.  It has vibrant colors throughout and is very detailed.  It matches the tone of the world that Neil Gaiman creates in the children’s book.  Henry Selick, director and writer of the screenplay, does a brilliant job on what is the longest stop motion film to date, just over an hour and a half.  His direction and creation of this world is simply brilliant in a film that I think bettered Pixar’s Up in the year 2009 for an animated film.  I would be remiss not to mention the wonderful score created for this film.  Bruno Coulais, who also composed for The Secret of Kells, another animated film in 2009, does a brilliant job filling in the background of the worlds which are created.

This film, even though animated, comes to life much better then many live action films.  It flows between joyous points in the real and other world to the cold terror of the other mother and Coraline ends up having.  With most novel writers, it is hard to adapt their work onto the screen, but Neil Gaiman, with Stardust and Coraline, has proven that at least some of his books can be adapted, and it would be wonderful to see him write more screenplays for his entertaining stories such as MirrorMask.  I highly recommend this film, not as something you need to watch with kids, but as a film that all ages can enjoy.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A


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