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>> Monday, August 10, 2009

A well so deep if you fell to the bottom and looked up, you would see a sky full of stars in the middle of the day.

It’s been a long while since I found myself owning a DVD without actually seeing it prior. Up until this point I had assumed Coraline was nothing more than another CG film aimed at children but hoping it would find an adult audience as well. To my surprise, I found myself watching a film made for no younger than more mature children . . . and possibly no older.

I think this because I think most adults would find this film boring. Now when I say ‘most’ I mean the general populous, not those who actually will take this film as the brilliant work of art it is, and who will have trouble giving it the patience it deserves. I myself am no stranger to ‘boring’ films per say, being subjected time and time again to them in numerous film studies classes.

A good example of another “boring” animation would be the Oscar nominated Les Triplettes de Belleville. Yet, as “boring” as it was, it was recognized internationally. Why? - Because again it was brilliant. Did I think it was brilliant when I watched it? Yes. Did I like the film and would I watch it again? No - but I can see what the people behind the film were going for, and they pulled it off with grace and style and vividness. It still doesn’t mean it’s for the average viewer.

This film comes from director Henry Selick, who also directed the wonderfully imaginative A Nightmare Before Christmas. This time it takes a different direction though and has a slightly more indie feel to it, which I’m grateful for. The last thing I need or want from Coraline is an animated cat lip-syncing to “Who Let the Dogs Out?”. It is also setting a precedent for sundry films to come, including Fantastic Mr. Fox and Where the Wild Things Are, both adapted from children's books.

The fact of the matter is that Coraline, when one gets down to it, may come off as a bit dreary. The music for the most part is a bit drab, however, much like Triplettes, a person who pays attention will find themselves immersed in a world very much like that of the average childhood dream, a sort of scary yet very harmless dream. A dream that’s easier to sit through than the dialogue-absent Belleville, mind you. And like most dreams, Coraline is in a sense more real, than well, reality.

There is something unsettling about the way Coraline looks though, that reminds you of just how creepy films like Alice in Wonderland should have been, which it clearly pays homage to, and which also might explain Burton’s Alice in Wonderland coming out next year. But much like the classic Disney version, most parents will probably pop the DVD, sit their toddler and tweens in front of the TV, and walk away. This is all fine and dandy, as I believe the kids will enjoy and understand it more anyways. Than again, some may be completely freaked out and never want to see it again. But in time it won’t be surprising if the kids of today will reminisce about Coraline much like my generation talks about Return to Oz or Labyrinth, and the generation before discusses Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

And to answer your impending question, no, I won’t be surprised if we see Oz and Labyrinth at the hands of Burton soon. Can you just leave ONE childhood classic alone, please, Tim? Except for Garbage Pail Kids, do that one.

As for the DVD extras that come on this disc, they are what they are. Take my advice and don’t watch the 3-D version, it’ll just hurt your poor corneas. I watched the opening sequence and decided to flip over the disc to the 2-D version instead. I won’t watch another film in 3-D at home again, until they make polarized 3-D home theatre-capable. You get some nice explanations for the way they did some effects (I assure you not as much CG is done in the film as you think), and a feature length director’s commentary – which I’ve yet to listen to, but hear isn’t too bad.

As for the acting, Teri Hatcher and Dakota Fanning and the guy that plays the PC from the Justin Long Mac commercials all do pretty good jobs. It should be noted that this is one of the only films I actually like Dakota Fanning in. The door is open on this one. Although be cautious if you plan to step through it. You may find all those you know sporting a shiny pair of button eyes.

*Still courtesy of Alliance Atlantis


Editing Luke August 11, 2009 at 5:24 PM  

I found Triplettes of Belleville captivating, if as much for the music as the animation itself. I have yet to see Coraline, but like Nightmare Before Christmas, the stop motion animation makes it worth viewing to me. And for the record, I would not be surprised if Garbage Pail Kids is on your list of Top 10 greatest movies, haha.

Speaking of which, you should write a post on a couple of films that are bombs that you think are great, or successes that you think are awful. Maybe some back story about what you think makes a film good or bad to give more insight to your perspective as a critic? Just a thought.

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