Directed by Henry Selick, who also directed Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline is one of those cute and dark movies that looks innocent enough, but is actually filled with some pretty serious issues and plot twists. This is basically a strange and updated version of the same concept used over a century ago in Lewis Carroll cult novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This time the author is Neil Gaiman, one of those writers whose works are yet to hit the theaters. I have not read the novella, nor any of the other works from Neil, although everybody “hip” is talking about him and his fucking books. The first thing you will notice is the strange style that’s due to the lead concept artist Tadahiro Uesugi use of colors. I will leave the link after the review, so you can check him out. So what do we have here, a beautiful stop-motion animation and a pretty interesting story about a young girl dealing with life. This is not one of those movies made just for children, so the older audiences can enjoy it as well. Even more so, if you count the artistic style and the painstaking work (three years) that created Coraline.
Is there a difference between Oregon and Michigan? For our young Coraline, there certainly is, and since she moved to her new home in new home in Ashland, Oregon, she found it even more boring and dull. Her parents, busy with work, don’t have enough time to help her explore the new house, but maybe that’s a good thing because Coraline soon finds a mysterious passage into this strange world…
Coraline has this dark but also entertaining atmosphere and if you add perfect pacing to this mix, you get a very engaging movie that’s at times very suspenseful. We are slowly getting sucked into this whirlwind of strange characters and intensive emotions, basically into the mind of a ten-year-old girl. Casting was spot on, with young Dakota thriving as Coraline and the rest of the experienced cast just destroying the script, especially Ian McShane from Deadwood. One of the most important elements of this movie is this off feeling, this off and very creative feeling that we are witnessing something that’s not commercial or tainted in any other way. This is a product of pure imagination, creativity and effort, so what’s left for us to do is to enjoy it.
Director: Henry Selick
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Keith David, Ian McShane, Robert Bailey Jr.