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well, nothing unusual here...

well, nothing unusual here...


Voices of – Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman

Cat: You probably think this world is a dream come true…but you’re wrong.

Coraline (Fanning) has just moved to a new place with her parents who spend most of their time working and little time paying attention to their daughter.  One day Coraline discovers a passage way in their house that leads to a sort of parallel version of her life.  This version seems more magical, with more caring parents (despite having buttons for eyes), but there’s something sinister lying beneath the surface of this new world that is trying to tempt Coraline to stay.

Even if nothing else was good in it, I’d be glad I watched this movie just for the visuals alone.  It really is a sight to behold.  Colorful, inventive, and detailed are the words that come to mind.  It’s especially impressive on blu-ray.  As amazing as CGI characters can look, stop-motion animation brings an added sense of three dimensionality to the images.  It also helps add to the creepiness factor, as everything tends to move a little less smoothly.

Happily, the story and characters are also mostly interesting and well done.  I wish the parents weren’t so inattentive to begin with because this isn’t a story about them learning a lesson.  The lesson seems to be that kids should be happy with the family that they have, even if it doesn’t live up to their ideal, but I thought these parents were kind of jerks.  Seems like it would have made more sense to start Coraline off as the unappreciative kid, with the parents being more sympathetic characters.  Or at least have the parents be a little bit nicer than they were.  Then when Coraline realizes that she had things pretty good to begin with, we in the audience would agree.

Regardless of that, the movie works.  It’s creepy and interesting and weird and, as I mentioned, visually stunning.  I watched a little bit of it in 3-D, but I thought it looked better in regular ol’ 2-D because some of the coloration is lost when viewed through the 3-D glasses.  I recommend watching it in 2-D first.  The voice performances are all good enough, though the best are by Fanning and David Keith (as the Cat).

I thought the end almost turned into a sort of video game type plot for a while, but it still worked well enough not to ruin the movie.  It just seems like they could have come up with something better than a little quest to find various magic balls of light in order to win her freedom.  Yes, there’s more to it than just that, but it felt like a video game character going from level to level, and that distracted me a little.  Is there a Coraline video game out yet?  I’ll have to check on that.

Overall, it’s a quality movie.  Good for kids if they can handle creepy imagery, and good for adults if…well, if they can handle creepy imagery as well.

Kids, no matter how bad your parents are, love ’em anyways, because it could be worse.  They could be trying to sew buttons to your eyes and drain your life force…or something.

10 – .7 for the parents being a little too unlikable – .6 because I thought the end could have been a little better – .9 because I didn’t like the characters of the two weird ladies downstairs + .1 for the visuals being so darn impressive = 7.9