Rating – ***1/2


Coraline delivers everything that fans of Tim Burton-esque twisted stop motion should expect…… and yes, I know this is actually Henry Selick’s work. The visuals are flawlessly realised, making the painstaking stop motion appear effortless. The film delivers an almost constant barrage of supreme weirdness. At times it resembles a vivid nightmare, and that includes the lack of logic and constant frustration you’d associate with such things. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing trained jumping mice perform circus routines, or a theater full of Scottish terriers enjoy a musical show. These sequences are self contained gems that capture the essence of whimsical escapism so many other films strive for.

However the sad truth is, I felt a bit bored and underwhelmed at times. The narrative drive hinges almost entirely on the arrival of the next weird set-piece. Every one of them is charming and beautifully executed but collectively they drown out the already slight plot. Literally every other aspect of the film is damn near perfect which is why I feel like a kill-joy to point this out. In my opinion it prevents Coraline from rivaling Selick’s previous masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas or even The Corpse Bride (in which Burton showed he could direct stop motion equally well all by himself.) Without the story influence of his mate Tim, Selick’s creations are in danger of drowning in a swirling pool of their own excellence.

In 3D, Coraline is incredible. This is the perfect medium to view stop motion as it allows you to appreciate the depth and fine details of the intricate miniature sets. You feel like you’re actually crouching down on the ground looking through the viewfinder yourself. The film avoids the cliched “poke the audience in the eye” gags, and simply allows you to take in the striking imagery. The music is distinctive and sets the tone perfectly, while the voice over work is strong. Despite my reservations about the underwhelming (or at least muddled) story, Coraline is an artistic and technical triumph. A refreshing antidote to recycled, tired CG rubbish like Monsters Vs Aliens.


~ by thewholebuffalo on July 20, 2009.

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