Whatever you do, don’t go into this movie thinking “this better just like Nightmare Before Christmas.” Yes it’s stop frame animation. Yes it’s the same Director, Henry Selick. But no, it’s not Nightmare Before Christmas and it shouldn’t be. Nightmare has been done and Selick is not foolish enough to try and redo what many people agree is a masterpiece. This is a whole new film and as such, it’s amazing.
To begin with, the visuals in Coraline are more than anyone could ever ask for. From the minut stitching’s on Coraline’s sweater that you literally feel like you can touch to the wide shots of the gardens filled with flowers and lights. This film is definitely a feast for the eyes. The way that Selick chose to use 3-D is artistic as opposed to gimmicky. Instead of using it to scare you or jump out at you (although there are a couple of moments where that happens) he uses it to give the film more depth. It feels as if you are actually on the set, able to touch the the characters walking around. It helps to add a whole new dimension (literally).
The story of Coraline, originally written in a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, is about a girl (Dakota Fanning) who is fed up with hum-drum life finds a doorway to her “other” life, an alternate possibly better version of the life she already has. She’s in her same home but better, her “other” mother (Teri Hatcher) is no longer busy with work, but busy with cooking cupcakes. In the “other” world animals can talk, flowers bloom by you being near them, and everything you could ever want appears in an instant. You can just imagine how much fun these scenes are to watch in 3-D.
Yet there’s something off, something not right about the new world. When her “other” mother asks her to stay in the world, she’s tempted, until she finds out what she’s going to have to do to stay. She’s going to have to sew buttons over her eyes. Her adventure turns dangerous and while Other Mother tries to keep her forever, Coraline has to find a way to get back home and save her family.
The best way that I can describe this film is to say that it’s a horror film for children that has depths that will frighten parents and make children laugh. It’s really a wonderful treat. I agree with Selick who said that children under the age of eight probably will have trouble with it and it’s up the the parents to decide that one.
The film is in theaters January 6th (today!) so don’t miss out. It’s really a fun ride.