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Coraline
BLU-RAY disk
Aug 11, 2009 By: Aaron the H
Coraline order download
Director:
Henry Selick

Actors:
Dakota Fanning
Teri Hatcher
Keith David

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A lonely, young girl longing for adventure finds a secret doorway in her new house that promises to offer exactly what sheís looking forÖor so she thinks.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Sixteen years ago, a now-legendary stop motion film called The Nightmare Before Christmas was released upon the world, brought to us, as the filmís poster famously boasted, by now-legendary director Tim Burton. So hereís a little trivia question to stump your buddiesÖwho directed that flick? The answer, surprisingly, is not Tim Burton, but a lesser-known filmmaker named Henry Selick. Now, with the release of Coraline (and Burtonís name being nowhere near it), Iím starting to think Selick got dicked out of some much-deserved recognition.

Coraline is a stunning work of beautiful stop-motion (not to be confused with claymation) combined with glossy digital effects. As a result, visuals are fresh and production design is unique. Also like Nightmare Before Christmas, this film delivers entertainment for the kids, while simultaneously delving into some very, very dark territory for us adults.

The story isnít nearly as original here- the tale of a child escaping her lonely existence to enter a fantasy world is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia (to name a few), but the way in which itís told both visually and tonally keeps things original and fresh enough to forgive that relatively major shortcoming.

The titular heroine Coraline, who sports a beautiful weave of electric blue hair, just because, is voiced with glee and attitude by Dakota Fanning, a girl whose talent spectrum seemingly knows no bounds. Teri Hatcher, Ian McShane, and that dorky PC guy from the Mac commercials round out an effective voice cast, highlighted by David Keith as an extremely smooth and intelligent and black cat.

Using Neil Gaimanís book as a backbone, Selick does a fantastic job creating and then plunging us into the very unique world of the film. Yes, itís supposed to be the real world, a VW Beetle tells us that, but Selick is just too creative and devious to keep things grounded for very long. Coralineís upstairs neighbor is stick-thin and blue-skinned for example, and, obviously, once Coraline discovers the ďother worldĒ, nearly all plausibility goes straight out the window, as it should in a film like this.

Like Coraline herself, the soundtrack is youthful and adventurous, and the film thankfully (for me at least) stays away from going the musical route, only boasting a few small song-and-dance numbers. I found myself humming along to a few of the songs days after viewing.

As stated before, I do wish the story would have been a bit more original, and that Coralineís real parental units a bit more consistent in their behavior. They veered often between negligent and responsible, and while this is probably a more realistic version of parenting (which I generally appreciate), this film didnít need much realism to pull me in. It's just that cool.

The DVD comes with four pairs of 3-D glasses, and while they certainly take some time to get used to (and desaturate the film's color palette), Iíd still recommend their use to really immerse you into the eerily beautiful landscapes the animators have painstakingly created.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by writer/director Henry Selick - The filmmaker is very technical (though not boring) in his track, giving detailed insight into how the puppets work, in addition to story influences and giving constant credit to his animators. If youíre curious how the world of stop motion works, this is a pretty cool, if a bit intellectual track.

The Making of Coraline (35:53) - This is one behind-the-scenes featurette I was extremely interested to check out, and while it may not be finest making of Iíve ever seen, this thing didnít disappoint.

A multi-part documentary covering nearly everything youíd want to know about the film, without ever getting too technical. Voice recording sessions, costume and set design, puppet mechanics, special FX, and of course, the animation process are all covered, though not in extreme detail. Itís a light, colorful feature that never really gets boring and is frequently fascinating. Man Iíd never have the patience to do what these guys do. Brutal, tedious, painstakingly complex and particular, but ultimately rewarding no doubt.

Voicing the Characters (10:46) - A featurette showing the actors doing their voice work, with director Selick and others discussing the motivations behind each of the characters etc. Itís fun seeing the actors recording their voices (especially Keith David) but it gets old kinda fast.

Creepy Coraline (5:03) - Talks about the critters and dark elements of the film. Some interesting bits, but I donít know why we need to see the storyline rehashed again by the cast and crew, not like the film was too complex to understand. The cast interviews really add nothing. Skip it, unless you want to see some cool, huge dead bugs.

Deleted Scenes (8:37) - Interwoven with some truly bizarrely-edited interviews with Henry Selick, we get a few quirky deleted and extended scenes and little snippets, none of which add anything crucial to the story. Still, like everything else in this flick, they are beautiful to behold and very fun to watch.

The disc makes full use of Blu-Ray capabilities, with a "U-Control" app that includes Picture-in-Picture features that let you compare animatics and voice-recording sessions while the scenes are happening in the film.

Finally, you get a 'second disc', which is a Digital Copy so you can watch this baby every time you feel like escaping to the other world.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
All in all, Selick proves with Coraline that he is a true player, and that stop-motion should not (and hopefully will not) ever die or fade into irrelevancy. Whether youíre 5 years old or 55 years old, Coraline should have something for you.
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