If you’re looking for an highly-imaginative 3D animated Disneyland-like ride at the theaters, Coraline is your ticket. It’s a unique movie experience, and could be the most creative 3D movie ever produced. It fits well into the genre of modern day fairy tale as it lures you into an increasingly creepy world where childhood pleasures slowly transform to nightmares.
The story, adapted from a Neil Gaiman children’s novel, invovles a saucy and courageous youngster named Coraline. She and her work-obsessed parents have moved into their new digs at the Pink Palace (it is not a brothel), a slightly menacing house surrounded by a dark forest in the boonies of Oregon. They move into the first floor, sandwiched by two other tenants: former vaudeville actresses and a retired circus ringleader of…jumping mice. Sadly, Coraline is neglected by her parents, and is homesick for her old buddies…until she finds a mysterious door that leads Being John Malkovich style into an alternate universe of whimsical indulgence and more attentive parents. Things start to get even weirder when Coraline’s ‘other mother’ demands her to sew buttons into her eyes thus insuring her eternal stay in paradise. Much like any fairytale, the film is not driven by a rock-solid plot. Instead it relies on exceptional characters who’s bizarro manifestations in the ‘other world’ remind you of the weird shit you were scared of as a kid
Which brings us to the visual aspect of the movie. It’s amazing and will only suffer from an explanation. You truly need to see it to believe it. And another thing. I love Pixar and CG and all those cool 2 million bit graphics and everything, but you’ll be holy !@#$ing yourself when you see some of these sequences, and realize they did it all by hand. It’s stunning in 3D. It’s sometimes subtle, and sometimes in your face. Amazingly, it all feels necessary for every scene. They incoporated the 3D factor much better than Beowulf. With the trailers of upcoming 3D animated films as well, it’s clear that directors are looking for a way to ad value to their films. With Jim Cameron’s new live action/cg SciFi magnum opus Avatar comes out Dec ’09, they are already installing 3D projectors at your local theater to get ready. But who knew that so early in the game a brilliant little film like Coraline would set the mark so high?
Go see a matinee, ’cause unfortunately the tickets have a $2 3D tax. Needless to say, if you like imaginative, dark fairy tales, and the future, it’s worth every penny.
Reviewed by Steve Bennett