Aug 3, 2009

[Movies] Coraline (2009)

CoralineI can't quite explain when my love of stop-motion animation began. One could trace it as far back to all those Christmas specials like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the like. But in terms of modern films, my appreciation for the art really flared up anew after the release of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Let's face it - the medium is pretty amazing and it manages to capture a style that CGI will never be able to replicate. It's not about precision but at times it's more about the fact that we can see the imperfections and distortions - we know it's not real and that's part of the appeal. Stop-motion animation seems to have gained a new following in recent years with more and more movies adopting this format, and we're not just talking about short animated features that you never hear of until Oscar time.

Ultimately, it seems the most common stories that are translated into such animation tend to fall under the category of children's books. I guess the fantasy genre just lends itself remarkably well to the medium.

Cover of "Coraline"Cover of Coraline

Coraline is the animated adaptation of the popular Neil Gaiman book / graphic novel of the same name. The story follows the life of a young girl named Coraline who finds herself terribly bored and pretty much ignored by her hardworking parents. Her explorations of their new home lead her to stumble across a secret door that leads to another world that is almost exactly like hers, and yet different. There she has an Other Mother and an Other Father who are pretty much her ideal parents who love and dote on her, but naturally not everything is as it seems.

At times my partner and I found ourselves wondering if the movie was really stop-motion or if it was CGI made to look like stop-motion, which is a sad thing to even ponder. I guess it just goes to show how skilled the animators were in crafting the film since it was certainly some of the cleanest renditions I've seen in a while.

Compared to Tim Burton features of a similar animated nature, Coraline had very vibrant colors, which sort of stressed the nature of the story being that of aimed at children. Her normal life seemed bright and cheery enough here and there and even more so her initial time with her Other Mother. It did make good for a great contrast for the latter parts of the film but at times the vibrancy was painful to the eye - at least not as painful as Speed Racer was, haha.

Parts of the film seemed to drag a bit and that may be partly to the original book it was based on or based on how it was executed as well. Things build up well enough towards the end but certain sequences were still a bit off for some reason.

I have to admit I wish Tim Burton had been the one behind this project since his dark vision tends to complement Neil Gaiman's story style pretty well, but at the same time it was refreshing to see another take on things and not just the usual somber greys and blues that Burton tends to favor.

I hate the fact the movie still has not been officially released here - damn you local movie distributors!

Coraline gets 4 magic seeing stones out of a possible 5.

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