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Rating History

The Road
The Road (2009)
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I?ve never read a single novel from Cormac McCarthy, but since viewing the literary adaptation of ?No Country for Old Men? in 2007 and now this year?s ?The Road,? I?m seriously considering to venture into this author?s work during winter break. ?The Road,? deemed unadaptable by many scholars and critics, is not your typical post apocalyptic movie. Try to get the images of ?Escape from New York? and ?The Road Warrior? out of your mind. This is a grim, dark, and depressing exercise into the end-of-the-world genre that has recently crowded the film world with the likes of ?2012? and ?I Am Legend.? Many who have viewed the movie with the literary source in mind have criticized the John Hillcoat adaptation merely because it fails to conjure up the same emotions the source material was able to materialize with your own imagination. Fortunately, since I?ve never read this book I have the privilege to see ?The Road? with an unbiased eye, judging the movie based upon its own merits rather than constantly making unfair parallels to its literary companion. With a very small cast, mostly consisting of Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Charlize Theron, ?The Road? is a relentless look into the fall of humanity, a nightmare of a picture although hard to watch is compelling and intriguing with major help from the on-screen chemistry between Mortenson and Smit-McPhee.

?The Road? is set in a post-apocalyptic future where an unnamed father (Mortenson) and son (Smit-McPhee) are trying to survive on little food and a gun with two bullets in it. Forget the clips you saw in ?2012? because ?The Road? is not concerned with CGI and special effects. This is a film grounded in reality, suggesting what the world would be like if it really were to end. The father teaches his son how to properly kill himself if the time is appropriate. The sky fails to show any sunlight of any kind, remaining dark grayish for nearly the entire production. The only time we get sunlight is when director Hillcoat flashes us back to when the family was together, father, son, and mother, played by Charlize Theron. ?The Road? may feel like it slogs along with a deliberate pace, but these flashbacks keep things interesting and eventful. Most are told through the father?s dreams. They are brilliantly shot and comfortably transitioned to. The problems the two survivors have to face is finding food, water, shelter, and avoiding cannibals. Yes, there are cannibals in the movie, and it is not a surprised to see humanity killing itself, falling down to the confounds of darkness like the tall trees falling in the woods while father and son endlessly escape death time and time again.

The trailers to this highly anticipated adaptation have sort of been a little misleading. Although vague, because I only watched it once or twice back when it was set to be released last year, I remember thinking this was depicted as an action picture in vein of post-apocalyptic action movies like ?Mad Max? or the recent homage ?Doomsday.? ?The Road? is really nothing like this at all. But it does have moments of suspense and thrills. Run-in?s with strangers who will do anything for a bite in a house, paranoia when the father thinks people are following them after finding a safe haven underground, and a beginning moment where father has no choice but to gamble on his son?s life after the latter merely being captured by a gang member inhabit the on-goings in this human natured based experience.

Charlize Theoron does a lot with little screen time in her role told through flashbacks. She represents a loss of hope; her fate is never a mystery, just a dark reminder to the father that the current world he lives in is filled with despairing emotions, fearful atmospheric tones, and discouraging promises. Part of her decision to depart is solely based on her decision to rear her child in a world this grim and morbid. Even though her death direction is hard to relate to, you can understand why she does the things she does. Her last scene is unbearably emotional, and this is a testament to both the acting and direction. Although a characterization is never built for the Theron character, she plays as a dream to the audience, one that is haunting the father eternally in his cognition. Tossing his last picture of her away does little in helping him forget about his dearly departed life partner. The father?s son claims he wants to remember his mother, and in a heart breaking proclamation, the father states, ?it?s time we start forgetting about her?the both of us.?

Although dividing audiences with its grim perspective, ?The Road? has been universally praised for its look and acting. Viggo Mortenson is superb once again as the unnamed father. His only objectives are to head south and maintain the life of his very young son. Loss, depression, anger, and frustration is all garnered through Mortenson?s performance. Even though he will likely fail in getting an Oscar here, his road to the holy grail is inevitably growing shorter and shorter. New comer Smit-McPhee is outstanding as the son, a child who has been born into this depressing world. A scene depicting his first encounter with a soft drink is both poignant and sad. Although you would expect him to gobble down the drink, the son passionately insists on his father taking a sip, and these kinds of moments make ?The Road? bearable. The on-screen chemistry between Mortenson and Smit-McPhee is at the epicenter of a world where all seems to be lost. The father?s undying will to live, and the son?s brave innocence keeps the audience involved and intrigued. It is a bleak, but altogether authentic post-apocalyptic experience.

The cast may mainly consist of Mortenson and Smit-McPhee but cameos by Robert Duval and Guy Pierce are also a welcome addition here. In particular, the performance by Robert Duval is extremely depressing and haunting, and it is all the more impressive based on the little screen time he shares with the audience. One of the admirable elements in ?The Road? is Hillcoat?s direction. Every moment where you are beginning to get relaxed, something dramatic occurs. The pacing is deliberate but there are moments like the encounter with Duval?s character that keep the narrative both entertaining and involved. Moreover, the set pieces and overall look of the film is devastating and solidly sold to viewers. Rotted away buildings, slanted power line polls, a bleak sky, little sunlight, lack of hygiene regarding the two leads, cold and isolated landscape, broken down cars laying in the middle of the roads, and abandoned houses makes ?The Road? feel all the more authentic and real.

However, some audiences may grow inpatient with the pacing exhibited by Hillcoat. His Australian western ?The Proposition? I have not seen, but is known for having pace issues. For me, this did little in tainting my experience. Viewers looking for explosions and gut wrenching CGI sequences will probably be disappointed by where Hillcoat takes us. ?The Road? is really not about plot, leaving the cause of this apocalypse marred in ambiguity, but focused heavily on the character of human nature. It begs to question what one would do in a situation like this. The son asks his father if they would ever eat a person if they were starving. The father simply answers no. And when the son doubles back with ?even if we were really starving?? The father states ?we?re starving now.? In a rather poetic sequence, the son may, or may not have seen another child lurking around a house where the father grew up. While the father was in the house, the son runs away to try and meet with this kid. The father does not believe anyone was there. Just like the cause of this apocalyptic occurrence, director Hillcoat leaves it in ambiguity. Isolation never felt more terrifying than exemplified here.

Ultimately, one would expect the novel to be better than the movie adaptation. But when was the last time the movie triumphed over the source material? The only instance I could think of is the Gregory Peck vehicle ?To Kill a Mocking Bird,? but even that proclamation could be argued and debated upon. When you review a movie one has to detach themselves from the book if they had read it before watching the adaptation counterpart. Likewise with my experience with Zack Snyder?s adaptation of ?Watchmen? earlier this year, I was able to view ?The Road? with little distraction and solely focused on the movie that was presented to me. Director Hillcoat, alongside screenwriter Joe Penhall brings you into a stark universe filled with nightmare and despair. The foreshadowed conclusion is extremely poignant and poetic, but a lack-of-hope lingers in the back of your mind given the exhausting experience your driven to witness. ?The Road? is not a movie I?m willing to watch again for quite some time, but delivers the emotional punch I was hoping for when first hearing about its acclaimed source material.

Fast & Furious
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Fast cars, hot girls, and pure exploitation B-movie fun. That pretty much sums up why I enjoyed Rob Cohen?s 2001 hit ?The Fast and the Furious.? The latter made stars like Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Michelle Rodriquez household names and the chance at stardom. The sequel, titled ?2 Fast 2 Furious? is pure garbage entertainment. The flat one-liners that are suppose to be funny, the ridiculous chase sequences in substitution for simple drag racing, and the absence of basically every major component to the first movie, with the exception of Walker, hurt the second installment considerably. ?Tokyo Drift? was the first film to take the street racing world out of the country. Does it work? Not really. But it is a step up from its predecessor and features a fun little cameo from Diesel at the end. Justin Lin is now back to direct the franchise?s fourth installment titled, ?Fast & Furious.? As a fan of the original, and with the cast returning, you can say that I was more pumped for this entry than the regular movie-goer would be. Perhaps nostalgia has a lot to do with my love for ?The Fast and the Furious,? because ?Fast & Furious? is just as boring as its lame title suggests.

It?s been five years since Officer Brian O?Connor (Walker) rolled with the Torretto?s (Diesal) street racing gang. The opening sequence is similar to what unfolded in the original. Dom, with the help of some friends (Han from ?Tokyo Drift? for starters) and the supposed love of his life Letty, are seen hijacking fuel tanks in the Dominican Republic. After the heist goes terribly wrong, Dom feels compelled to leave after Han informs him of his departure to Tokyo. He fleas to Panama. His sister Mia (Brewster) suddenly calls her brother Dom and tells him that Letty has been killed. Trying to pull off his best Punisher impression, Dom goes to the states, as a wanted man, in search for Letty?s murderer. Meanwhile, Officer O?Connor (Walker) has been reinstated in law enforcement and now works for the FBI. He is assigned to track down Arturo Braga, the same drug lord whose responsible for Letty?s death. Receiving the same information in tracking down David Park, Dom and Brian finally meet for the first time in five years. They eventually form a shaky alliance to go undercover and capture the wanted Braga.

The story presented plays a lot like ?2 Fast 2 Furious,? but instead of embracing a ?buddy cop? mentality, Lin instead focuses on the wittered relationship between Dom and Brian. Of course there is a lot to be desired in terms of character and plot, but lets move on to what people really want out of these things; the action and entertainment. The opening sequence is the best of the bunch?well it is the only good action set-piece in the entire film. You can tell Lin put a lot into this scene, filling the atmosphere with fiery kinetic energy while showcasing a fun and action packed finale to end the hiest. The first and only race between Dom and Brian is mediocre, and probably way too complex for its own good. In the first film, director Cohen embraced simplicity and was better for it. Something about four cars simply racing in a straight line, while expertly shot intrigues me more so than a twisty, chaotic, ridiculous race. It would eventually come down to a quarter mile race, but the excitement that I was looking for was completely absent.

I think most of the blame relies on the poorly written script from Chris Morgan. It lacks the light fun that David Ayer was able to install in the first entry. Call me crazy, but the subplots involving Dom?s friends was part of the fun I had in 2001. In addition, ?The Fast and the Furious? focused on the cars and the drag racing that followed. You had a couple of scenes showing a variety of flashy car parts, an amusing street race, the desert filled ?Race Wars,? a fun race with a Ferrari, and an ending race that featured a pretty well-shot crash at the end. ?Fast & Furious? doesn?t really show much in terms of actual racing. It actually becomes quite boring. It seems to take itself way too seriously as a revenge picture. The climax, revolving around a chase sequence in a cave, is mediocre and underwhelming. It is nothing we haven?t seen before.

In terms of the franchise, I think this is on par with ?Tokyo Drift,? but there is more disappointment after watching this installment. With the exception of Walker, this cast is much more talented than what they have to work with here. Diesel exhibited this in ?Find Me Guilty,? Rodriguez in ?Girlfight,? and Brewster is probably better than everybody when she has a chance to be on screen. At the end of ?Fast & Furious? I questioned myself; ?Why did they have to make this?? I mean sure money is a good motivator, but studios and the assortment of people behind the film should have spread the excitement throughout the film, instead of selfishly blowing their load on the first 10 minutes. If you enjoyed the first three movie you?ll probably like this project just as much as you did the others. As for me, who only enjoyed the introduction film, this is a misfire. Since this entry has made more money than any of the other entries, a sequel is no doubt in the works. After the poor effort shown here, and striking out three times in a row, I think I?m finally ready to join the club and say this franchise is sadly out of gas.

District 9
District 9 (2009)
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

With Quentin Tarantino?s ?Inglorious Basterds? to be released this coming Friday, the summer movie season is finally making its close. Has it been good? For the most part it hasn?t been, but this does not come as a surprise. I gave some summer blockbuster?s a chance. I sat down and watched ?Terminator Salvation.? After viewing it I promised myself I would not see ?Transformers 2″ or ?G.I. Joe.? ?District 9″ was appealing for many reasons. Its marketing campaign kept the film mysterious and intriguing, never giving too much away like other trailers have done this year (?The Lovely Bones?, ?Shutter Island?). Peter Jackson, the man behind the infamous ?Lord of the Rings? trilogy had his name slapped on as a producer. And finally, the film?s documentary style, shown in the compelling trailer, gave the alien project a fresh, but gritty appearance. I?ve had conversations with people who have claimed this thing to be the next coming of alien centric movie-making. Lets not jump the gun here. This is a very audacious and ambitious directorial debut for Neill Blomkamp, but ?District 9″ does not go without some minor flaws.

There is a spacecraft hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa in 1982. It has been there for three months, and nothing has come out of it. We send helicopters to investigate and find an alien race; starved, sick, and in need of great help. There ship has run into technical problems and we are the only ones, humans, who can help them. The film is told, as I aforementioned, in a documentary style. There are interviews with various people connected to the handling of the alien situation. 20 years have passed, and the company in charge of the camp where the aliens are being transported to is called MNU (Multi-National United), a company that specializes in weapons. The camp is called District 9. With the over-crowded aliens in a segregated area, the camps now resemble slums, think ?City of God? by way of ?Men in Black.? Nigerian drug lords have over run the camp, setting up a black market to make profit off this ugly looking alien race.

The film begins to reveal its central plot when focusing on Wikus, a newly promoted MNU field operative. His task is to relocate the 1.8 million aliens living in District 9 to a new area called District 10. He has backing from MNU private security forces. Wikus has clumsy and clownish behavior. He is not very careful when approaching the aliens about their evictions. At this point he seems to only care about making his father-in-law happy, the man who promoted him. Eventually Wikus finds himself in a mess of trouble. He becomes the worlds most wanted man, gaining the ability to operate alien technology, something the government and the slum lords have been looking to achieve for quite some time. Saying good-bye to his wife and the friends he leaves behind, Wikus finds his inner ?Dances With Wolves? and begins to form an unlikely friendship between an alien, or prawn if you will, by the name of Christopher Johnson.

?District 9″ dazzles with not only action, but an ingenious back story. The documentary style shown here is superb. It was a terrific way to introduce an alternate time line, further enhancing the authenticity and jarring rawness. Blomkamp captures some terrifying shots here. The aliens are disgusting to look at, resembling giant cockroaches. It is truly amazing to see these things, in millions, running around the district. It?s like watching a giant ant hill blown up for the big screen. Although Blomkamp awkwardly handles the language barrier (or lack there of) between human and alien, it is riveting to see the behavior these prawns exhibit. Some have justifiably said it is clearly unexplained why some aliens obey and act like civilized humans, and others resemble chaotic and savagery behavior. Can you ask the same question for humans? There are alien rights activists, and others who want to harvest alien DNA in order to operate there technology. The Nigerians go as far as to eat dead prawns to gain the ability to fire there advanced weapons.

The third act begins to drop some of the more intelligent aspects in its arsenal and raises the bar in terms of action sequences. Some of these shots are brilliant. Humans explode with a single fire of a weapon, and there is plenty of blood splatter to satisfy the more gore hungry crowd. The chase scenes are overlong but tense and nerve racking. Although I have not seen Michael Bay?s ?Transformers? sequel I have a hunch that many moviegoers are going to urge Bay to sit down and take notes from this first time director, whose first film here surpasses everything the veteran Bay has ever crafted.

Furthermore, I believe one of the more over-looked gems of the film is the characterization of Wikus. Blomkamp almost dares you to hate this guy in the beginning. Yes, he is funny but not in a way you would expect. If you Googled pencil pusher his image would probably be the first to pop up on the computer screen. Although he begins to form a friendship with Johnson as the film progresses, he never truly sympathizes with these prawns until the very end. He seems to be in it only for himself, and to keep this trait disguised but true-to-life was a remarkable achievement. Also, he fails to conform to the formula of overnight action heroes. Sure he blows stuff up, but he blows stuff up in the most clumsy way possible. He is a walking, talking, office working idiot. And I could not have had it any other way.

I think ?District 9″ is best remembered for its rich political allegory. It is not hard to think of the Nazi?s and the concentration camps, apartheid and the segregation in South Africa. Although its intentions are strong it is never overbearing. This is not a preachy film like ?Crash? where the message is shoved down your throat to the point of exhaustion. This is an action packed, horrifying science fiction film that comes very close to instant classic territory. Save for Wikus and Christopher Johnson, there are not many characters here that are fully developed. Watching the journey of Johnson was great, but there are approximately 1.8 million aliens inhabiting the area. I get why some aliens act differently from others on theory, but I wanted to get to know some of these prawns. When you present an interesting alien race I want to know everything about them, how they think, what there motives are, etc. We get one but I wanted more. Despite some very minor quibbles, ?District 9″ is a must see. It?s an original piece of work, something Blomkamp, a student of the producer Peter Jackson, should be proud of.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Recurring collaborations between actors and directors usually expresses a sign of success. DiCaprio/Scorsese, Damon/Greengrass, Depp/Burton, Washington/Scott, and Johansson/Allen are all modern day pairings in which have seen success critically, or in the box office. You can officially add Pitt/Fincher to the mix, and somewhere near the top because of their ingenious work behind the emotionally exhausting, fantasy age epic The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Both have shown what they can do outside their pairing, with Fincher?s superbly crafted Zodiac and Pitt?s wide variety of brilliant roles, ranging from the Edward Zwick epic Legends of the Fall to his most recent work in the Coen Bros. hilarious dark comedy Burn After Reading. Having previously worked together on Fight Club and Se7en, this dynamic pair has a three film win streak, and this is one of their best efforts yet.

The story is told in the year 2005, with the haunting Hurricane Katrina just nearing its target in New Orleans. An old women named Daisy (Cate Blanchett), in the hospital with little time to live asks her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) to open up a journal in which she hasn?t opened ever before. Caroline begins to read the story of Benjamin Button, a person who had been born under unusual circumstances. Anyone who?s seen the trailer, or is in fact alive knows the epic tale of Benjamin Button, the person who ages backwards. He?s born and abandoned to a young black women named Queenie, played warmly and solidly by Taraji P. Henson. The baby is the actual size of baby, but looks horrendous with wrinkles, etc. Queenie runs a house dedicated to the catering of the elderly, so this seemed like a perfect fit for Benjamin.

From crawling, to walking, to talking, and finally to moving out we see this odd character grow up right before our eyes. While he?s staying at the elderly house he encounters a couple of interesting people. Some are funny, sad, or lonely individuals. By far the most interesting and significant character is that in Daisy, in who Benjamin befriends. Although he appears to be much much older than Daisy, who?s the granddaughter of one of the elders in the catering house, they?re really very close in their youth. While Benjamin and Daisy are the heart of the piece, they?re only together for a brief period of time. While in his teens and twenties, Benjamin survives a WWII attack on his tugboat while Daisy pursues her dream of becoming a dancer.

The direction by Fincher is just incredibly strong, with dazzling visuals and brilliant camera work. While the script by Eric Roth is lacking when compared to Fincher?s direction, it is solid nonetheless. Roth is most famous for writing the screenplay for Forrest Gump, a film I?m not overwhelmed by like the masses that voted it best picture of the year. Unlike Gump, Button is a much more interesting character. Having spent his early years in an old age home, he has seen death time and time again. Throughout most of the picture Button seems content and just fine about his backward aging, and maybe his years with Queenie in the elderly home gave birth to that. He rarely ever crumbles under adversity, and even has confidence to engage in a tiny, but special affair with Elizabeth Abbott, a woman who?s not so much in love with Benjamin but just his peculiar case of aging.

Moving at a gradual pace, the film really starts to peak when Benjamin and Daisy decide to live together in a small duplex. Their relationship, while filled with love and romance, is burdened when Daisy claims she?s pregnant. This is the first telling signs of fatigue by Button, and while he remains in love with Daisy, he knows his daughter is going to need a father, not a playmate. The agonizing pain of nothing lasts forever is brutally depicted throughout this segment of the film. Benjamin Button feels like a life themed film, and how luck, chance, and death are inevitably apart of everybody?s days on earth. There are comedic segments between an elderly man and Benjamin in which entail the man claiming he?d been hit by lighting on numerous accounts. The symbolic representation of the clock, or it?s round shape in comparison to his biological father?s business of buttons all echo back to the films themes and motifs. Furthermore, this is a film focused on an unreal, but fascinating character and not an ordinary character living an unreal life. Maybe this is why I enjoyed this epic so much. My taste in films is not so much in plot, but in characters. Character driven films has always been my sweet tooth in film watching. Last years There Will Be Blood and Into the Wild set their places on my top ten list because they?re character studies on fascinating individuals.

There?s a lot more going on here than what I have stated in this review. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a near three hour film, and perhaps this puts a tiny wrinkle in what is an exceptional fantastical romance epic. It?s not as engaging as Fincher?s crime drama Zodiac, but to compare every film he does with the latter seems unfair and unreal. Whether it?s the complex characters, the fantastical journey, the themes on life and death, the moving music, or the top notch performances by Pitt and Blanchett, it?s almost impossible not to enjoy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Coraline
Coraline (2009)
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Pixar Studios can be seen as the current master in animation. ?Finding Nemo,? ?WALL-E,? and the ?Toy Story? films are all on the masterpiece level regarding animation film making. However, not too long ago there was a film titled, ?Nightmare Before Christmas,? a dark, sprawling musical dealing with a creepy Halloween-world filled with dark, unique, and quirky characters. Although computer animation is great and all, I really miss stop-motion animation. ?Coraline? is directed by Henry Selick, the helmer of the aforementioned ?Nightmare Before Christmas? and the stellar ?James and the Giant Peach,? an adaption that finely blends stop-motion with live action imagery. It?s easy to go into ?Coraline? expecting the next ?Nightmare Before Christmas.? However, people tend to forget what made Tim Burton?s classic a true creepy gem. It wasn?t so much the narrative that drove ?Nightmare? towards the scary side of things, but the imagery and odd-looking characters embedded in the work. ?Coraline? is not only a visual fiesta, but also manages to craft a dark and ominous story wrapped around strange characters and a talented voice cast.

Dakota Fanning is the voice behind Coraline, a ten year old girl who has just moved into a new apartment with her parents, voiced by Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman. The first 15 minutes or so reveals Coraline as a wandering and bored child. She tries to strike conversations with her parents, but they?re too busy working on the garden catalog. Coraline barely befriends Wybie, an annoying, curly haired boy who lives in the same pink Victorian where her apartment resides. He is surprised his grandmother rented to the Joneses, but nevertheless proceeds to give a doll to Coraline; it pays a striking resemblance to Coraline and has buttons for eyes. Furthermore, while wandering throughout her new apartment, Coraline discovers a small door, though on the other side of it there only appears to be a brick wall. However, when night comes Coraline follows a small mouse into the same small door, but this time revealing a spirally tunnel to a strange and dream-like world. Comparisons to ?The Wizard of Oz,? ?Spirited Away,? and ?Pan?s Labyrinth? will probably materialize in most viewers? heads after viewing this upside down paradise.

Why is it a paradise? Well, Coraline?s parents, though having buttons for eyes, pay extremely close attention to her, catering to her every need. Her new friend Wybie is reformed to a quiet mute, unable to speak or say anything; just the way our lead would want him. Instead of calling her other-world parents mother or father, she calls them other mother and other father. Although the first visit is a quick one, the picture endlessly revisits Coraline?s ?Oz.? Great supporting work comes in the form of Robert Downey Jr., Ian McShane, Dawn French, and Jennifer Saunders. They play Coraline?s quirky neighbors who provide amusing laughs and entertainment. As the film moves along the story begins to dramatically shift gears. Coraline?s fantastical world begins to turn into a nightmarish, anti-Utopian. This sparks ?Coraline?s? major themes; Life?s imperfections wrapped in a coming-of-age tale.

Kids who haven?t seen too many scary movies or weird looking films might be too freaked out by the direction Selick takes. At first the world is a beautiful looking piece of paradise. Flowers grow everywhere, birthday cakes come to life, etc. Selick takes this beautiful world and completely turns it onto itself. The more intelligent viewers, adults, will probably not be surprised to see Coraline?s fantasy turn to nightmare. Others, however, might be too scared to grasp the concept Selick adapts from Gainman?s classic novel. I think one of film?s most chilling scenes revolves around the turning point; Other mother asks Coraline to become permanently attached to this other-world, and tells her to replace her eyes for buttons. I don?t think you?ll find this type of scenario in a Disney film like ?The Little Mermaid? or ?The Fox and the Hound.?

?Coraline? does suffer a bit in its last act. Visually it is sublime, containing one of the more brilliantly crafted animation sequences in years, as we see Coraline?s ?Oz? slowly shatter, then recreate itself like a dream would do. Perhaps the story goes on for ten minutes too long. Coraline has to complete three tasks, and this sort of thing had the look and feel of a low-priced, kiddy video game you pick up at Target for 19.99. Nevertheless, ?Coraline? is a visual gem with a stellar cast of characters to support its satisfying story. The stop-motion animation style is a breath of fresh air and the dark and ominous look and tone is perfectly captured by brilliant filmmaker Henry Selick. ?Coraline? is such a delight it may even give Pixar a run for its money come Oscar time.