That author extraordinaire Neil Gaiman wrote the deliciously fantastical story Coraline for his young daughters makes it no less accessible for a wider audience. In fact, Gaiman’s absolute understanding of the hopes, fears and joy of being a youngster imbues his story with vivid life – and when his epic imagination is teamed with that of writer/director Henry Selick (A Nightmare Before Christmas), it results in a sumptuous, stunning film that will charm audiences young and old.
Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is a feisty young girl frustrated that he parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) are more devoted to their work than to her. The family has recently moved to a new house and, while exploring her new surroundings, Coraline discovers a tiny door that appears to lead to nowhere. One night, however, Coraline finds the door is an opening to an alternate realm, where her ‘other mother’ (Hatcher again) is waiting to spoil her, listen to her and tend to her every need. As Coraline spends more and more time in this seemingly perfect other world, however, she begins to realise that all is not what it seems…
Combining expertly crafted stop motion animation with the latest 3D technology – the first time this has ever been done on the big screen – Coraline is visually stunning, its three dimensional depth and bright animation pulling the viewer into Coraline’s worlds. Selick shows the sharp attention to detail that he demonstrated in A Nightmare Before Christmas; absolutely everything on screen, right down to the smallest object seen for a split-second, has been carefully through about and designed. From the cutesy (the performing mice) to the terrifying (Other Mother), from the funny (elderly actresses Miss Forcible and Miss Spink, voiced by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders) to the moving (Coraline’s eventual realisation that home is where the heart it), everything looks so real that you feel you could just reach out and touch it.
But Coraline’s strength does not rest solely on its visual prowess; as wonderful as the animation is, it could not have carried the film alone. The story is so strong, entertaining and enjoyable, the characters so well defined in personality as well as appearance that they pop off the screen. As a heroine, Coraline is utterly charming – cute as a button with a thrilling sense of adventure and a childlike vulnerability. And Selick’s script is fast-paced, witty and knowing, the dialogue snappy throughout. In fact, all the elements are so strong that the fact it’s animated is an added bonus, rather than being the thing that defines the film.
That said, if you get the chance to see Coraline in 3D, jump at it. When a film is this goof, there’s surely nothing better than adding another dimension to the viewing experience!
And, as an extra treat, we’ve got a couple of clips from the movie, plus a Meet the Cast featurette. Enjoy!
Voices Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Ian McShane, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders
Director & Screenplay Henry Selick, from the book by Neil Gaiman
Distributor Universal Pictures
Running Time 1hr 41mins
Opening Date May 8