Directed by: Henry Selick
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders
Henry Selick’s Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same title, centers around Coraline Jones, a young girl who has just moved into a once palatial apartment complex with her two neglectful parents. When boredom begins to overtake her, Coraline takes to the world outside the confines of her dreary residence in an effort to acquaint herself with some fellow tenants and friendly neighbor Wybie. Soon enough, a small, concealed door reveals itself inside the family’s humble abode, beyond which lies a bizarre parallel universe; a universe identical to that of her own at first glance, but nearly perfect in every way imaginable. The only difference? Everyone, including her superior “other” parents, have had their real eyes promptly replaced with buttons. When the treacherous wishes of these otherwordly citizens becomes clear, Coraline must find a way to return to the world she knows before all is lost.
I saw this film in all its “RealD” three-dimensional glory a week after its initial release, and I honestly think there shouldn’t be another way to do so considering the film’s already outstanding visuals are accentuated by the technology that’s been taking theaters by storm nowadays. As for the animation itself, the extraordinarily appealing stop-motion approach is flawlessly executed and a wonder to behold, even more so than that of Selick’s widely adored previous outings (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach). Truth be told, Coraline is plain beautiful in just about every aspect, from fantastic character models to the beautifully crafted scenery our excitable young protagonist is thrust into throughout her perilous journey.
Aside from the obvious visual quality most animated films like Coraline possess, what should really manage to stand out, to me at least, is a solid cast of voice actors. Luckily, Coraline succeeds on this front too with fantastic performances from Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, and John Hodgman. Ian McShane is hilarious as the oddball scene-chewing Mr. Bobinsky, whose scenes can be considered the most entertaining next to those of the slightly provocative Miss Forcible and Miss Spink. All in all, solid efforts are exhibited all around, which is a definite plus.
This in mind, Coraline is without a doubt the best film of the year thus far, which isn’t saying much, but I have faith that it’ll remain a worthy contender in this respect. Its astounding visuals, above average voice talents and truly intriguing premise provided by way of the source material and Selick’s screenplay make the film as good as it is. On a side note, if you’re planning on taking the kids, I must forewarn you that despite a PG rating, some parts of the film can be perceived as a bit terrifying, even to a 21-year-old such as myself. Still, Coraline is simply an event that shouldn’t be missed, especially in 3D!