Home > Movies, Reviews > A Song About Coraline

A Song About Coraline

coraline I had the pleasure of catching a 3D screening of Henry Selick’s “Coraline” at the recent Jameson Dublin International Film Festival: aside from being an absolutely brilliant film, it was followed by a Q+A with author Neil Gaiman, and “the other Neil” was also in the audience, a Neil going by the full name of Neil Jordan, who will be directing Gaiman’s next adaptation, namely “The Graveyard Book.”

Not only is “Coraline” an amazing film, but getting to hear the writer talk about it…well, anyone who knows me would know how brilliant that would be. 

Anyway, “Coraline” is still a couple of days off general release here in Ireland (despite being out several months ago in the States) but there are previews on for the May weekend, and it’s well worth checking it out, as it’s already earned its title as one of the best movies of the first half of 2009. If you’re wondering, my full review’s below, but this gets the full 5/5.

“Coraline” has been a long time in the making, understandably so: an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2002 novel (the man also responsible for “Stardust” and the “Sandman” comics series) the movie began production before the book was published, the latest stop-motion animation movie from Henry Selick, whose previous directing credits include “James and The Giant Peach” and the Tim Burton-scripted “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” 

Coraline Jones is the hero of the movie (with voice provided by Dakota Fanning) who moves to the Pink Palace Apartments with her parents, editors and writers of a gardening catalogue. With her parents consumed with their work, Coraline prepares to start at her new school, exploring the building and her eccentric neighbours. However, Coraline’s exploration also leads her to a tiny door in the wall and a world where her Other-Mother (Teri Hatcher) gives her all the attention she desires. But all is not as it appears in their world where Coraline’s family have buttons for eyes and where neighbours Mr. Bobinsky (Mc. Shane) and fading burlesque stars Miss Spitz and Forcible (French and Saunders) distract her with their magical shows.

 “Coraline” possesses a magical nature missing from many children’s movies of recent years, partly due to the stop-motion animation, and party coming from the disturbing imagery in Gaiman’s work. There’s a constant sense of unease throughout the film, especially when Coraline enters the other world, and the imagery of the Other-Mother’s buttons-for-eyes (along with the needle and thread that goes along with them) will send a chill down many an adults’ spine. In fact, although very much a children’s film, “Coraline” is quite scary and tense, and may even provide more scares for adults than children (along with some jokes, both high-brow and silly, that even some adults won’t get.) The story moves along fast enough to keep both adults and kids interested, and on the rare occasion where the story lulls, the beautiful animation more than makes up for it.

 The stop-motion animation is a wonder to behold: with no CGI, everything is very ‘real’ on screen, with incredible use of lighting and colour, making some very old-fashioned effects look very effective, specifically in creating both a warm homely world, and a terrible danger in the Other-Mother. Teri Hatcher’s voice captures the nuances necessary for the terrifying but loving character that she plays, and even Dakota Fanning manages to portray Coraline as thoroughly lovable and brattish (thankfully, without being in any way annoying.) It all comes together to make “Coraline” one of the most enchantingly beautiful (and terrifying) films since “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

Don’t be put off by the fact that “Coraline” is animated, or even a kids’ film, because you might miss one of the best films of the year.

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  1. May 3, 2009 at 9:33 PM

    Not until June 6th..some films still get lost in the shuffle of timings for school holidays and religious festivals that only movie studios seem to take heed of any more…..ahh, well. At least Star Trek is going to be on time…that may be an IMAX-er for me….

    • burnallzombies
      May 3, 2009 at 9:35 PM

      Star Trek is, officially, the awesome.

  2. May 3, 2009 at 2:30 PM

    We have yet to see this on the other side of the ‘verse….. and in 3D thanks to Australia’s demented obsession with cinemas… I have to say I am really liking the page, Sir….if you ever need to take on extra staff writers, i submit myself as a ready employee 🙂

    • burnallzombies
      May 3, 2009 at 7:07 PM

      Aww…thanks MJ. When does it open in Upside-Down-Land?

  3. morethinking
    May 2, 2009 at 12:43 AM

    Love is all I have for this film. It was so good, I was kinda disappointed when it was over- not because the ending was bad, but because it was just so magical, and I just wanted to revist it over and over…

    Ah well, that’s what DVDs are for. 😉

    • burnallzombies
      May 2, 2009 at 11:45 AM

      True, DVDs are great for that. It’s just unfortunate though that it’s yet another instance of a movie that opens in the States ages before it opens in Europe and loses out on a lot of (well-earned) hype because of it.

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