Coraline/ dir. Henry Selick/ 2009
Being an animation student has inspired me to see anything and almost everything animated. I’ve known about Coraline for a couple of months, and I really wanted to see it when it first came out on February 6. I mean how can you go wrong with the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and based on a novel by Neil Gaiman! Here’s the trailer that got me hooked:
Life gets in the way many times and I didn’t get a chance to see it that opening weekend. I heard that the box office numbers for that opening weekend weren’t as big as LAIKA (the animation studio that produced the film) hoped for. And that a dismal showing of this film could spell doom for this Portland , OR based company. I made it a point to see the film, even if I was by my lonesome. Luckily that didn’t happen. Many thanks to the cutest newlyweds in Seattle (maybe a lil too cute), Daps and Cherry, for a journey that started with brunch, went through Coraline and a trip to Fry’s Electronics, and ended with Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Philiippines. (BTW, “Best Pig Ever” according to Anthony Bourdain…that’s high praise).
On to the actual review: WOW…(hit the jump to continue):
Let’s start with the animation: Stop motion is a bitch! And Coraline was shot 99% in stop motion. Done wrong it could look kinda horrible (Jason and the Argonauts…still classic though), done right it’s a wondrous thing (The Nightmare Before Christmas). Coraline falls into the latter (thank goodness) and I think I’ll even say the animation in Coraline surpasses that of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is beautifully animated, and even though the settings are narrowed to just the house, garden and one beaten path, the visuals pop, the characters are alive with emotion, and Henry Selick never rushes the audience in any of the many fantastic fantasy scenes.
The story, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, is about Coraline Jones, in her struggle to adapt to new surroundings with distracted parents, she encounters a small door to another similar, yet different world (Think a darker Alice in Wonderland). The story’s been done to death (Spirited Away did it in 2001), but with with Neil Gaiman’s flair and Selick’s writing, the atmosphere of the movie is something to behold. No offense to Kung Fu Panda, but I get tired of the bright kiddy cuteness that many of the animated films that come out have. Coraline has a grit that other animated films that have come out just don’t have, and make no mistake these characters are by no means cute. This doesn’t mean this film isn’t right for the kiddies. It’s dark, but it’s a great balance between family fun and dark. I, too, had my doubts that this is a “”family” film. Certainly there are parts where it’s questionable, but I think we need to give children some credit. Most will not be scared, they will be in awe with the fantastic images and scenes that are before their eyes, and they will live a timeless story that is as different as it is similiar. Plus, they can watch shit that is ten times darker and scarier on network TV and youtube.
Alright I’m past 500 words, so let’s end with the 3D. We saw it in 3D, and I’m glad we did. The 3D really added another experience when watching Coraline. On wikipedia, it said this is the first known 3-D animated movie. And it’s a good one. I’ve been to 3D experiences where it didn’t really enhance anything (cough…Superman Returns), but if Coraline is the future of 3D animation, the future is bright. Go see this movie! in 3D if you can…oh and anybody down for Up!
PS: LAIKA is owned by Mr. Nike himself, Phil Knight. I don’t think they are going under anytime soon. Nike makes a good animated movie, go figure, AND I don’t remember seeing a single swoosh in the movie…impressive!