Such is true of Coraline, a cinematic fairy tale crafted by writer Neil Gaiman and director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas). Based on a book by Gaiman, this visually astounding stop-motion masterpiece is a reminder that not all fairy tales have wistful princesses and happy musical numbers (sorry, Disney). This is a return to the creepy morality tales of yore, and while young children may have nightmares from the unsettling mood and tone, older children and adults will likely delight in both its imagination and its message.
Coraline's title character is a plucky and resilient child (expertly voiced by Dakota Fanning) who has moved to a dusty, lonely old house in Washington with her parents. Both are neglectful in their own way: her father is caring enough, but is constantly aloof, while her mother (voiced by Teri Hatcher) is so busy that she hardly notices her daughter, and is often annoyed by her when she does.
One night, Coraline discovers a portal into a parallel existence: same house, same parents, but here everything is exactly as she wishes it were in reality. The dreariness of her true home is replaced by vibrant colors and spectacle. Her neglectful parents are replaced by updated versions who live only to lavish her with affection and wish-fulfillment. Soon Coraline begins to greatly prefer the alternate life to her actual one. It's all seems perfect, but she (and the audience) cannot shake the unsettling suspicion that something isn't quite right. Only a sage old black cat (who is realistically silent in the "real world," but suavely vocal in other) seems to understand the dangers behind the seductive facade of Coraline's dream world.
To say more would be to ruin the surprises, but suffice to say that the film contains excellent messages for those who look for discussion points to share with their children afterward. The dream world serves as a perfect metaphor for the cunningly disguised lies of harmful people, as well their tactics of using subtle counterfeits to grant people's wishes in the short run, while slowly entangling (and later chaining) them in the long run.
As my mother always said: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." With regards to Coraline's dream parents, they may be seen as a practical warning against slick strangers who might lure children away by promising them exactly what they want (much like the "candy man" character in Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang). The black cat, whose warnings initially go unheeded, may be seen to serve a similar purpose to parents, friends, and teachers. He is a wise, caring character who sees and understands things that the protagonist does not yet comprehend, tries to keep her from harm, and helps her when she is in peril.
Furthermore, the film not only reminds parents of the need to give their children attention and affection, but also helps children understand the stresses of parenting and the need for gratitude for the parents they do have.
In addition to serving as a lasting morality tale, Coraline is a terrific artistic achievement. While computer-generated animation is en vogue at the moment, the terrific and nearly seamless stop-motion animation here is something different and gorgeous to behold. The film is currently showing both in 3D and as a regular feature; I recommend that you see it in 3D if possible, as the richly designed sets and characters were meant to be experienced in that format. Far from a mere gimmick, the 3D in this case actually brings more life to the story, revealing layers and depth that were actually created by hand and filmed, one meticulous frame at a time.
Parents should be warned, that while the film contains no real violence, it is full of unsettling images and a creepy atmosphere that will doubtless give nightmares to little ones (much like the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz, though this is a good deal scarier). There is mild profanity. A scantily-dressed and buxom elderly woman, though a clay-animated figure and far from titillating, may be offensive to some. That said, for older kids, teens, and adults who possess rich imaginations and an appreciation for this type of film, Coraline is a terrific night at the movies, and worth the added fee to view in 3D.
Coraline relocates to a new house where she soon feels ignored by her working parents. She discovers a secret door and slips into a magical world where she meets a loving and caring 'Other mother '- things seem perfect but there is hidden danger about to unfold.
This fantasy horror film is creepy, scary, unpredictable but exciting. It takes us from the boring reality of everyday life to the charming 'other world'.
Coraline is a young, feisty, curious and courageous girl. She gets bored with her new neighbourhood and starts to explore her surroundings.
Her parents are too busy trying to make a living and give her little attention. She tells them about her adventures but they don't believe her and aren't very impressed.
Soon Coraline finds out that the 'Other mother' is evil. She traps children, steals their eyes and stiches buttons in their place. In an effort to save the ghost children Coraline makes a bet/plays a game with the other mother and tries to free the souls of the trapped children and her parents.
This terrifying but interesting movie is one of the most amazing children stories of all time.
Following a young girl (Coraline) as she moves into a new home with her family, she discovers a doorway to mirrored world after coming across a doll that had been made to look like her. In this other world, she has the same friends, family, and home as in her reality, but everything seems to be perfect. No hardships or troubles, until one day when she must stay on that side or find a way out. The way this studio displays their animation style is nothing short of brilliant. In a way, this film is one big metaphor for how they are able to transport viewers into an entirely new way of viewing cinema. This studio is unlike any other out there today and I look forward to every one of their projects to come.
This film is best viewed during the month of October, due to its eerie feel and Halloween-ish tones. This begs the question of whether or not it will be too scary for children, being an animation film and all. Luckily, Coraline is just the right blend of kid-friendly and mature. There is something here for all ages. Having a child protagonist definitely helps stretch the target audience, but this film is made for film fans first, without question. This story may have a few elements that are a little hard for younger audiences to follow, but travelling back and forth through worlds will easily be enough to keep them engaged.
Whether a film is live-action, computer animated, or filmed entirely with stop-motion, audiences have come to expect a certain basic look in order to feel like they are watching art. Coraline is the exactly definition of a film that takes risks and strays from that formula quite a bit. Having dutch angles, vertigo shots, and slow push-ins, this film displays itself as an animated film that can accomplish any kind of shot it wants, due to the fact that it is animated. That being said, it is all shot through photography and miniature sets, which makes it that much more impressive. Once you get past the awe that everything you are seeing is actually real, Coraline does not hesitate to transport you into its gloriously beautiful world.
From the amazingly gorgeous score, to the incredibly realistic visuals, to the intriguing story from start to finish, Coraline is a revelation of an animated film. Gleaming with imagination from beginning to end, this film never fails to surprise its viewers. Emotionally strong when it needs to be without going too far over-the-top, while still remaining fun enough to keep kids more entertained then freaked out, Coraline is a display of animated perfection. Seven years after its initial release and I could not be happier with how much this film is able to hold itself up. It will very quickly become a classic in about ten years from now, if it hasn't already. I love every second of this film.