Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Coraline Review (Plus a Hidden Connection to Pixar [UPDATED])

I saw Coraline, and I was impressed. The animation was beautiful, the plot was thorough and didn't stray from Neil Gaiman's original and wonderful novel, there were happy and creepy elements, and the whole movie did what movies should do: entertain and inflict emotion.

The plot follows a girl who has moved into a very old house. She gets very bored and lonely, so she goes exploring. Eventually, after meeting some quirky neighbors, she discovers a very odd for. It is very small, just small enough for her to fit through it, and it is wallpapered over. In the drawer in the kitchen she finds a key with a button on it, this key unlocks the door, and she goes through due to her own curiosity. What lies on the other side is a world identical to her own, except for everything is much more colorful and exciting; her parents give her more attention, there are musical numbers and delicious meals...but everyone has buttons for eyes. But this wonderful new world isn't as great as Coraline had thought...

The plot is fairly predictable, and I feel like the beginning dragged on a bit too long and the end was a little bit rushed, but it was overall a great movie. The animation was the best part.

The animation was phenomenal. It was all stop action, which has a wonderful effect. The style was quirky and unique with lots of colors and neat effects. The animation was by far my favorite part of the movie.

As I said earlier, Coraline does what all movies should: it inflicts emotion and entertains the audience. The plot is so strong and thorough because they set it up so that the audience really cares for the main character, Coraline. But it also entertains due to the comedy and creepiness. Coraline's quirky neighbors lead to lots of humor. The evil, alternate world that Coraline enters is very creepy. Not initially, but eventually, that world becomes very scary indeed. In fact, there were some parts where I was so entertained, creeped out, and invested in the plot that I felt my heart beating an my adrenaline spiking. There were some parts were really intense. Thus, it was entertaining and it inflicted emotion.

There was one interesting part of the movie that I haven't mentioned, however. When they move into this old house, there is a moving van out front with the name "Ranft Brothers" printed on the side. This is the Pixar connection. Henry Selick, the director of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, was a good friend of Joe Ranft, who worked on the storyboards of Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, and did a voice of a rabbit in Monkeybone--all of which were at the side of Henry Selick. Joe was one of the first members of the Pixar team; he did truly brilliant writing, plotting and voicing for Pixar. Tragically, Ranft died in a car crash a few years ago, but his brother, Jerome still works in the art department at Pixar. Jerome provided the voice for one of the movers in Coraline. Since they were good friends, Selick paid homage to his buddy with this little title of the moving company in Coraline, "Ranft Moving" and by giving the voice of one of the movers to Joe's brother, Jerome.

UPDATE: Cartoon Brew has some very nice stills, as well as an article repeating wht I have stated here. Here's one of the stills and a link.

Coraline had everything a decent movie should have: a great style, deep characters, a major conflict that the audience feels invested in, humor, eeriness, and a clever talking cat. The only thing I'd change about it is I'd speed up the first half of the movie, and slow down the second half; the beginning really dragged on and the end felt very rushed. But, overall, I would give Coraline a 9 out of 10. Actually, a 9.5 out of 10 because of the Pixar connection.

No comments: