Thursday, August 27, 2009

Watching Coraline

This was also posted on Ancora Imparo but I thought it would fit here as well.

I read Neil Gaiman’s creepy little story right after it came out. I remember sitting on the stairs after getting dressed that morning trying to finish the book before I had to go to work. I also remember taking it to work with me so that I could read the final conflict between Coraline and the other mother from my desk drawer. I simply had to find out what happened. I loved the story. As I have said repeatedly, here and to anyone else who will listen, Neil Gaiman has to be one of the most imaginative and fantastic writers out there. I’m constantly impressed by his work.

When Coraline came out in the theaters, I didn’t go, mostly because I hate the theaters. I also don’t normally like movies that are based off books I’ve loved. The book is almost always better. But curiosity got the better of me. And on Sunday I bought the movie (collector’s edition and all) sight unseen with the knowledge that even if I didn’t like the treatment I would love the animation. I wasn’t disappointed. The stop motion animation story of Coraline is a visual masterpiece. I’ve always been a huge fan of stop motion and Henry Selick carries it to its most beautiful and believable conclusion. There were times in the film last night where I was so caught up in the incredible colors and settings that I forgot that the film was stop motion. I am constantly in awe of the amount of thought and work that goes into making a film like this. That’s why I had to buy the collector’s edition. I wanted the “making of” features.

The film stays mostly true to the book with a couple notable changes. While I understand the addition of the character of Wybie, I was mostly just annoyed with him. In fact I, like Coraline, preferred the silent version in the other mother’s world. I loved the treatment of Bobinski and the actresses downstairs Misses Forcible and Spink. Coraline was a wonderful character and we really get a chance to see the depth of her emotion. I’m constantly amazed by how they can create such deep emotions with puppets. But I really thought the Other Mother stole the show. They created a character so cloyingly sweet at the beginning that she is almost smothering, and then a character so incredibly evil that I’m sure there were plenty of children who went home and had nightmares. The film seemed an interesting mix of childish and adult and I went away with the feeling that the movie was actually more geared towards adults than children. That is not a criticism. It is rare to find animated films that have an edge and this one delivered. There were wonderful moments of humor but there was also an edge of creepiness throughout the film.
After watching the film I sat down to watch the “making of” features. I am constantly in awe of any type of animation but stop motion in particular. The bonus features were interesting although I’ll be on the lookout for a book that covers it as well. I wanted more of the puppet building and less on the voicing of the characters. But I may be one of the few people who are interested in that kind of thing. Considering I spent the rest of the evening on the couch reading a “making of” book for Toy Story, I’m far more interested than the average joe. (by the way, did anyone else know that Joss Whedon helped write the script for Toy Story?) I sadly can’t watch Coraline in 3-D (I tried) but with only one real working eye, everything just looked green. But even without the 3-D, I was pulled into the film. I was impressed and awed by the movie, but a little disappointed with the bonus features.

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