Sunday, February 08, 2009

Coraline (**1/2)

Coraline.  100 mins.  PG.  Written and Directed by Henry Selick.  Starring the Voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Keith David, and Ian McShane.

Well, at least it looks awesome.  I can only imagine all the painstaking time, energy, and passion that went into creating this dark children's fable.  It probably took years to capture all of the stop-motion animation and 3D effects in Coraline.  And yet, all I can say about the movie is, Meh.  Though the visuals are often amazing, the story is a giant bore.  Little Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) has an unhappy home life and escapes to an alternate, parallel universe through a door in her bedroom where her parents are great, save for the soulless black buttons where their eyes should be.  Turns out it's all too good to be true, and things get progressively weirder and more surreal as she tries to get back to her real parents.  My main problem with the movie is that due to the stop motion nature of the animation, there's no variation in the pacing.  It's all very slow and measured and there's no real tension - every scene has the same slack rhythm.  I've also realized I'm not a fan of Neil Gaiman, or at least of film adaptations of his work.  Between this and Mirrormask, it feels like he comes up with weird ideas that are weird just for the sake of being so.   Here, there are giant bugs as furniture and dogs with wings, with no rhyme or reason for any of it.  Some call this sort of thing imaginative and inventive, I just think it's random and dumb.  One final note on the 3D aspect: kind of cool at first, but you quickly grow used to it and once the effect wears off, all you're left with is the actual movie, so it better be good to keep wearing those glasses.  Unfortunately, Caroline is just okay.  Plenty of effort, middling results.



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