Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review: Coraline

Written & Directed by Henry Selick

Based on the book by Neil Gaiman

A young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life.

I've seen Coraline twice now and I can't seem to get it out of my head. The mix of intense artistry and chilling children's fantasy is infectious, and incredibly beautiful. As of right now it's my top film of 2009 and sure to be on my top ten list come the end of the year.

There are two major reasons why I love this film. Number one: Henry Selick's incredibly detailed, labor of love animation. This is as good as it gets people -- a fully realized, amazingly in depth 3D world made entirely of miniature puppets and set pieces. A lot of heart and soul went into the making of this film, and every ounce of it shows on screen. Everything from the soundtrack to the V.O. to the little hairs on Coraline's head are pitch perfect. It's truly a wonder to behold, and infinitely more impressive than any computer generated image. It's a shame more filmmakers don't follow in his footsteps.

Number two: Neil Gaiman's beautiful story. A take on the classic Alice in Wonderland, down the rabbit hole type tale, the story of Coraline is as breathtakingly imaginative as the animation that brings it to life. Despite being a fantasy, it doesn't pander to overprotective parents and has some real scares that are sure to upset younger viewers. But no matter -- Gaiman knows that kids are braver than we give them credit, and it's refreshing to see a children's film that isn't all cute animals and silly colors.

The film does have its flaws. Some scenes drag on a tad too long and overall the screen story isn't as streamlined as the novel. But those are some small grievances that were easily overlooked on my first viewing. I may be biased as this film has a lot of elements that tickle my fancy, but seriously -- I don't think I could be friends with anyone who didn't like this film. Selick and Gaiman have done children (and adults) everywhere a service, creating a masterful and resonating work that should be cherished for generations.

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