It’s Simple Enough Really, Don’t Trust People With Buttons For Eyes…
Yo, this be Reuben. Been a while since I’ve written a review, eh? And, holy crap, the last movie review I wrote was back in February. Ah well, here I am, writing a review of two-thousand-and-late classic Coraline from the mighty Laika Studios for y’all.
Although by the time this one had come out Laika had already released their successful debut Corpse Bride which won over many with its delish gothic aesthetic and animation not unlike A Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline saw the company take a trip into the mainstream and stands as their defining film.
Directed by the same bloke as the aforementioned A Nightmare Before Christmas, Henry Selick, Coraline draws many similarities to the Christmas flick. For one, it’s just as flippin’ weird, as it throws surreal and creepy characters and settings at you like it’s the best part of that disillusioned teenager down the road’s acid trip. This weird factor is actually a hugely important aspect of Coraline.
It’s wacky from the very start, and the sheer multitude of weird and wonderful things it brings to the table means nothing can be out of the question, and nothing can be too ridiculous, meaning the film can go as off the wall as it desires, and you’ll just take it and gawp at it. It’s like a constant mirage of creepiness, and the masterful animation makes it something impressive, keeping the odd aspects of it grounded and not so insane that you lose patience with it.
Indeed, the animation is some of the best I have ever seen. Wielding stop-motion Aardman would be proud of, it appears unorthodox and clunky, but in this incredibly charming and unique. There is a very in-your-face feel to it, with the facial and bodily animations of the characters almost having too much expression, but, this is another thing that gives it that aspect of uniqueness.
Moreover, there is an awe-inspiring sense of grandeur to the film, with the settings being intricately detailed, and always impressive. It’s generally dark and gloomy, emphasizing the feeling of frustration for Coraline, but there is a great use of colour and contrast throughout the film, making it striking and damn beautiful — it’s honestly one of the best looking films I’ve ever seen.
So, visually, Coraline is a masterpiece. But what’s everything else like? Well, one slight qualm I have with the movie is its voice acting, which isn’t always fantastic. I mean, there are no crap voices marring the thing, but Coraline herself (Dakota Fanning) hasn’t got the most endearing voice ever, and Teri Hatcher’s voice for the ‘Other Mother’ is pretty limited. Other than that, however, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French give entertaining inputs, and Keith David is particularly solid as dat ol’ cat. Damn, I don’t think I’ve ever written about voice actors before. Ah well, I hope I didn’t bore you to death.
Anyway, other than a couple of slightly off voices I can’t pick much fault at Coraline. For a ‘children’s horror’ film, it is genuinely pretty creepy at points, I mean, it’s not exactly adrenaline pumping horror, but yunno, for a PG it’s impressive. The visuals, the tone, the plot and the direction all come together in the film to make an incredible whole, which comes to life in its climax.
Plot, ah, yes. I should probably explain it. Coraline follows the tale of, you guessed it, Coraline, who after moving house has increased feelings of boredom and frustration, but finds a mysterious small door that when opens is blocked off by bricks. However, in a dream she passes through the door into a seeming parallel universe (deep inside of a parallel universe, it’s getting harder and harder to tell— oh wait) where everything is how she desires and everyone has buttons for eyes.
She becomes increasingly infatuated with this dream world, everything is getting better for her, everything is getting weirder for the viewer, and the foreboding sense of doom is exemplified by the point of realisation where Coraline realises that the world ain’t quite as perfect as she thought it was. Then, everything goes topsy-tervy. I feel like if I gave away what happened at all, it could spoil its effect, so I won’t (yes, you’ve probably seen it anyway, but still).
The gradual progression of the film is well done, as it makes that point of realisation all the more effective, turning the weirdness into something really gripping, and, for the most part, unpredictable.
In conclusion, it’s easy to see why so many people fell in love with Coraline, because now I’m one of ’em. Most prominently, it’s got some of the best visuals I’ve ever seen in a film, with its intriguing and impressive stop motion animation, sense of grandeur, and striking gothic tone. With its wacky aspect, it’s a unique film, and in its progression, climax and smart writing it’s a gripping film throughout, always throwing new things at you, all of ’em being awesome. Admittedly, a couple of the voices are a little off the mark and it could’ve been scarier, but, whatever, it’s an amazing film, and only just topped by Kubo and the Two Strings as the best Laika has brought us.
Bringing redundant opinions for scrollers everywhere,