Friday, February 13, 2009

"Coraline" Review

Friday, February 13, 2009

Last night I went with my little brother to the Rave at Ridgmar to watch "Coraline" in 3D. Ticket prices were $9.50 for adults, and so I fibbed and said that Christian was only 12 (as he and I see it, such situations are the only apparent advantages to him being a 'late bloomer'). But even with my liar's discount, our two tickets together cost a whopping twenty three dollars! I realized then that I had been charged an additional $2.00 per ticket because Coraline is a 3D Movie. Was I now broke? Yes. Did that fact infuriate me? You betcha. But in the long run, was it all worth it? YEEESSSS!!!

Let me preface my little review by saying that I have only ever read one graphic novel in my entire lifetime. I am an avidly avid supporter of the idea of reading comic books, but I myself never actually go out and read any. It must be because I am not a very visual person, or perhaps it is just another odd form of my all-pervasive laziness. Whatever the case, I say again, I've only ever read through one graphic novel, and it was hardly enjoyable. After watching Coraline, I am rethinking all of that. I am going to buy the Coraline comic and the Graveyard Book, as well as reread the Sandman comic I did not at first enjoy. Before, I (unfairly) found Neil Gaiman to be more than a bit overrated. Now, I think he is under-appreciated.

So, to the purpose. "Coraline" is a children's ghost story that centers on a young girl who has just moved to a new house, a house in which she soon discovers a secret doorway to another world, a world that mirrors her own. This new world gives her everything she lacked in her old one; it gives flesh and voice to all her unfulfilled dreams and fantasies. Where her first mother had always been too busy and had no time for her, her "Other Mother" shows her daughter unusual kindness and affection, loving her even to the point of adoration -- and her Other Mother has shiny black buttons for eyes. In fact, every creature on the other side of the door has shiny black buttons, and they all demand Coraline's unqualified affection. They whisper how she could even stay there with them forever...
.....and soon, Coraline's dream-world transforms into a nightmare, one from which she must desperately try to escape.

This movie is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. It is one of the most imaginative children's stories I've ever seen on film. It is the longest stop-motion picture to date, but it has to be to tell this spellbinding tale of phantasmagoria. And because Neil Gaiman is such a literate writer, the adaptation of his graphic novel isn't just any other kiddy goosebumps flick. I mean, how many villains from a kids movie are a reference to a character from a Keats poem? (The Beldam 'old woman / grandmother' ---> "La Belle Dame Sans Merci")

But I've yet to tell you the best part about the movie, for the visual beauty of "Coraline" surpasses even its superior storytelling. The cinematography is gorgeous and truly stunning: in every shot there is a galaxy of budding shapes and colors; in the next shot they burst into bloom. It's also the first stop-motion animated feature to be shot entirely in 3D, and it can safely boast that it elevates that genre from the gimmicky to the nuanced. Because of its visual splendor, "Coraline" is a film that must be seen on the big screen at least once, to enjoy the so-called "eye-popping" 3D effects it employs. It's just not the same without them.

So, in conclusion, I give Coraline 5 creepy eye-buttons out of 5. Go see it now.


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