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Coraline (movie)

A 2009 stop motion animated fantasy film directed by Henry Selick.

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The Curious Case of Black Cats and Buttons...

  • May 28, 2009
You have to feel for Henry Selick. He got somewhat of a raw deal with his directoral debut feature The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Most of the credit and accolades for that film undeservedly went to Tim Burton, who actually only provided the story and some of the character designs. The style and aesthetic of that movie was assumed to be all Burton's, but, after seeing Coraline, it's clear how much was down to Selick.
Coraline is a stunningly well designed movie; beautiful yet strange, familiar yet
fantastical, enchanting and yet unsettling. Indeed, this is a movie all about duality -
dreams and reality, happiness and sadness, light and dark. And this is a film that's not afraid of going to some very dark places. ..

So many modern movies aimed at kids, particularly the Pixar and Dreamworks animations, paint everything in bright technicolour - even when the characters are in danger and peril, the lights are always on. That isn't the case with Coraline.
 Like the Grimm fairytales, Lewis Carroll, Hayao Miyazaki and the early Disney movies, Selick knows that painting the dark that much darker, makes the light seem brighter. Indeed, Coraline writer Neil Gaiman seems to riff on many of the classics of children's literature and movies - most notably Alice in Wonderland - which gives the story a familiar feel. That is maybe the films only downfall and is what prevents it from becoming a true original masterpiece.

I'm sure that many movie goers will assume that much of this film has been done using CGI. That's understandable as many sequences will leave you baffled as to how they were achieved using traditional stop-motion techniques (Tip: stick around for the end credits and you'll get some idea). It's perhaps the most accomplished example of the art form yet seen. It's rich in texture and detail, yet it's not overly slick (something that I found slightly irksome in Tim Burton's otherwise excellent Corpse Bride). Like the Aardman animations, it revels in retaining a hand crafted, tactile feel.
The central character of Coraline is a triumph. The small nuances of body language and facial expressions that Selick and his team are able to give her are nothing short of astonishing.

The voice acting is excellent all round. It was actually refreshing to hear some animation voice acting that didn't descend into wild showboating and pointless zaniness, as seems to be the case with so many kids films these days.
I must also mention the score by Bruno Coulais, which is beautiful.

Sadly, I didn't get the chance to see this movie in 3D, but the lack of the effect does
nothing to diminish its enjoyment.
If you're a fan of animation in general, then you'll find much to love here. It may fall slightly short of being an out and out masterpiece, but it's certainly up there with the finest animated movies. Visually and technically stunning, funny, creepy and highly enjoyable, Coraline is a movie that will be loved and cherished by kids and adults alike for many years to come.

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November 18, 2010
Love the title, and great review.
November 18, 2010
Thanks FM_ALEX, glad you enjoyed it. :)
July 17, 2010
This is a film that I need to watch now that I've read the book. Nice review!
July 18, 2010
Thanks, Adrianna! I should really read the book, to see how it compares. :)
July 19, 2010
That's my plan too once I see the film! If you ever do read the book, feel free to place it in Cafe Libri. It would have a nice home there. :)
May 18, 2010
yep, I can see this film again. Stellar animation that is very different. I love stop-motion animation when done right. Groovy review, Simon!
January 21, 2011
sweet review btw....featured the review!!
January 21, 2011
Cool! Thanks, William. I spotted your quick tip on this movie - looks like you enjoyed it as much as I did. :)
May 28, 2009
I remember the way I felt when I saw the trailer to Coraline.  I thought it was incredibly unique, especially from the other usual Pixar movies that people find as their favorites.  I couldn't put my finger to it, until I read your part of the review that said, "...painting the dark that much darker, makes the light seem brighter..." Definitely lands what this movie is about, though I wish these movies got just as much attention as movies such as Up and Wall-E which seemed to have done better, probably because of the brand behind them.
July 18, 2010
I know exactly what you mean. I do love the big CGI animations, particularly the Pixar ones, but it's really nice to see something different and unique. Apologies for the late reply! :)
More Coraline (film) reviews
review by . March 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Yes, yes; I know there is a BOOK called Coraline that was the basis of this film.      I have more time to watch a movie than to sit and read, sue me.      Now that that is out of the way -      Coraline follows a young girl and her parents who have moved from the city where her parents write seed catalogs (but in reality hate dirt). Coraline is bored to tears. She wanders around meeting the other eccentric residents of the …
review by . January 22, 2011
Coraline is in my opinion one of the best kids films of the 2000's and one of the best kids movies I have ever seen. It is made by Henry Selick, the mastermind behind Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, and is made somewhat in the style of a Tim Burton movie. The animation is simply breathtaking and the voice acting is wonderful as well. The only reason I'm not giving it a 90 or 100 is that it scared the hell out of me in the theatre, but not so much in the comfort …
review by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I personally enjoyed this film, though my son refused to continue watching it, just for the mere fact of the dark eeriness that surrounds it. The director, Henry Selick, is much more like Tim Burton than I expected, though I believe they've worked together in the past. However, since I enjoy Tim Burton movies, I enjoyed Coraline. However, I would not recommend it to you if you don't have a humor or artistic appreciation similar to that of Burton's because Coraline is right up that alley.   …
review by . April 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Neil Gaiman is known mostly for his graphic novels and a handful of Children's Literature (not to mention an adult novel or two).  He's all over and has a pretty big cult following.  When he began writing Coraline it was mostly just a free write.  Hence, he didn't know where the story was going or what would happen next.  When he was finished with it, his first thought was: Henry Selick would like this.  And he had his agent send it off to Henry Selick who did, indeed, love …
Quick Tip by . January 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Neil Gaiman's work becomes adapted to the big screen in gorgeous stop-motion animation. This is a fantastic whimsical story about us being dissatisfied with what we have, and our desires that may tend to lead us to a darker path.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A huge breath of fresh air; gorgeous cinematography and reminder to cherish the things we already have. "Be careful what you wish for."
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Coraline was just so cute and mysterious at the same time... loved it
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A very interesting animated film, one of my favorites. I suggest watching it with as many people as possible
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
i stumbled across this movie at the redbox, i'd never heard of it. i rented it and was expecting it to be what it was marketed as, a childrens movie. it was great, just not great for kids in my opinion. the story was a little to twisted and grotesque for the younger kids.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There's more magic to Coraline than it appears. It's a good film that can be haunting, but it's nevertheless fun, and well put together. Fans of Henry Selick might want to check this out for the sake of curiosity.
About the reviewer
Simon Lee Tranter ()
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Member Since: May 8, 2009
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About this movie


For the last three years, the world's oddest and most talented animators, artisans, and puppet fabricators have been hand-making LAIKA's first animated feature film, Coraline. Led by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, this team has created the first stop-motion feature shot in stereoscopic 3D. Based on the beloved best-selling children's classic by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a fairy-tale nightmere steeped in classic storytelling, craftsmanship, and the old-fashioned art of moviemaking magic. In Coraline, a young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life - a better version. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous and her "Other" parents try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home.
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Director: Henry Selick
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: February 06, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Henry Selick
DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios, LAIKA
First to Review

"A gorgeous use of 3D"
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