Saturday, May 16, 2015

Coraline (non-Japanese animation, movie), on DVD

Coraline is a stop-motion horror/dark fantasy movie based on Neil Gaiman's children's book of the same title.


Coraline's family has recently moved to the Pink Palace Apartments. On the suggestion of her busy and exhausted parents, Coraline goes exploring and finds a tiny door that opens up to a brick wall. That night, she wakes up (or dreams of waking up) and follows a jumping mouse to the door, only to find that it now opens to a tunnel that leads to a home just like hers, only better. Her Other Mother cooks delicious food, and her Other Father is more energetic and has time to play with her. The next day, Coraline is back in her original home.

Coraline gradually meets more of her neighbors in the Pink Palace, as well as a boy named Wybie. It's nice enough, but the more time she spends in her other home, the more she wishes she could stay there. Sure, everyone in the other world has buttons for eyes, but everything is so nice there. Until her Other Mother tells her she can stay, but only if she agrees to have buttons sewn onto her eyes.

It's been a while since I last read or listened to the book, but I think this was a fairly faithful adaptation of the original book. The one thing I know for a fact was invented for the movie was the character of Wyborn (aka Wybie). I also believe the movie had more musical performances than the original book.

Although I think the movie took a bit too long to really get going, it did turn out to be a pleasant surprise. The opening credits, in which a doll was meticulously dismantled and remade by someone with needles for hands, were suitably creepy and made me look forward to the part where Coraline discovered that the other world wasn't quite as wonderful as she thought.

The first half of the movie was devoted to showing viewers Coraline's real world, with occasional periods in the other world. Her mother was busy, practical, and had no time for fun and games. Her father was so visibly exhausted, trying to get his book chapters typed up, that it was almost painful. He looked half-dead.

Although everything was nicer in the other world, I couldn't help but still find it a little creepy. The Other Mother's smile was just a bit too bright, and the Other Father was too energetic. The Other Wybie was particularly horrifying: his mouth was sewn shut, because the Other Mother knew that real world Wybie's talking annoyed Coraline. It bothered me that Coraline thought that it was just great that the Other Wybie couldn't talk, although she at least wondered for a moment whether it had hurt. Quite a few of Coraline's interactions with both the original and Other Wybie made me prefer Book Coraline over Movie Coraline. (And, ugh, the bit where Movie Coraline threw the cat at the Other Mother. Did Book Coraline do that? Because that is totally not how you should treat your friends.)

When Coraline learned what it would take to stay in the other world and the tone of the movie became darker, the creepiness level went way up. Kids who can handle something like The Nightmare Before Christmas would probably do just fine, but younger children would probably have nightmares. The worst moments, in my opinion, were when the Other Father began deteriorating, when the Other Father and Other Wybie sacrificed themselves for Coraline, and the whole bit with the actresses. Which I suppose is nearly all of the latter half of the movie.

All in all, this was better than I had expected it to be. The animation looked very good, the story mostly followed what I remembered of the book, and the latter half of the movie managed to be nicely creepy. My primary complaint is that Movie Coraline annoyed me more than I remember Book Coraline doing.

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