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As Wiki states, “Coraline is a 2009 animated stop-motion horror fantasy film based on Neil Gaiman‘s novella of the same name. ” It’s rated PG, and runs about 100 minutes. I hadn’t heard much about the movie before seeing it, other than that Gaiman was involved. So I was a bit surprised to discover that the movie is really creepy, especially for something that I thought was geared for kids. Sure, knowing his previous works, I expected some darkness, maybe about the same level as A Nightmare Before Christmas (which Gaiman had nothing to do with, just fyi), but Coraline was much more dark. Creepy music, creepy scenes, creepy antagonists.  In fact, the little girl in the row before me had to upgrade from her standard seat to momma’s lap and embrace. Shortly after, the family of three just walked out. I think if I were her age, I would have been completely fucking terrified, too. A fitting movie for Friday the 13th.

The movie is a bit slow in the beginning, almost painfully. But when it finally finishes setting up, Gaiman’s creativity really shows, and I found myself deeply engrossed in the fictional world. I swear he must have been on an acid trip or something when he came up with some of this stuff. So while at first I thought the movie was going to be a disappointment, in the end, I liked it, more so than Pan’s Labyrinth. And more than several Pixar works, to be honest, but that’s not a fair comparison.

I had thought Gaiman had written the script specifically for the movie, but I guess I was wrong. I’m kind of glad, because the writing in the movie didn’t really seem indicative of the quality I’m used to from his written works. In fact, as I was watching the movie, I thought to myself that it had a very “transcribed” feel to it, that inferior copy feeling that movies have when they are based on written works, even though I hadn’t known it *was* based on a written work.  But even if he had written it for the movie specifically, things are always lost in the transcription process from text to film.

Not that the writing was bad, nor off base.  Some of the dialogue felt very Gaiman-esque (which is the only direct avenue for his writing to show I suppose), and the witches, Gaiman loves his witches.

I’m not sure how I feel with the choice of stop-motion however. It looked stylishly dark, but at the same time, I felt it limited the characters’ range of emotion, something that’s already hampered when working with animation of any sort.

I saw the 3D version of Coraline, and the quality is actually pretty good. Maybe it’s just me, but with 3D glasses, there’s always a little loss in quality, but for the most part the images retained their sharpness.

Voice acting wasn’t too bad. Dakota Fanning played Coraline, Teri Hatcher the mother, and John Hodgman the father, aka, the PC Guy.  Well, now I’m confusing myself. With most cartoons and animated works, it seems like a little bit of over-acting is kind of standard fare. So maybe I’m used to that?  It didn’t feel very over-acted in Coraline, nor under-acted. So, “just right” which isn’t enough? Hell, I don’t know anymore. It was fine.  Fanning did seem a bit too sparky for Coraline’s character, though. She seems more suited for something less grim, like a Pixar flick. Although I suppose an emo Coraline would have been really annoying, too. Bah, whatever.

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2 Responses to “Coraline”

  1. Garret says:

    Was Hodgeman as recognizable and out of place as he was in BSG?

  2. Ron says:

    Haha yeah that was so random. I had to do a double take.

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