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From: Universal
For: DVD
Genre: Adaptation, Fantasy
Film Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)*
  *additional content may not be rated
A typical Neil Gaiman story, Coraline delivers a top-notch stop-motion adventure punctuated by magic, quirky dialogue and a rich gaggle of misfit characters.
Posted October 05, 2009
An engaging tale of the "be careful what you wish for, you might just get it" variety, Coraline is a bang-on adaptation of Neil Gaiman's popularly creepy children's book, brought courtesy of director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas). It mixes classic storytelling and dark fantasy with spectacular stop-motion animation.

Bored at home on a rainy day, Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) gets tired of pestering her working-from-home parents, Mel and Charlie (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman). Finding a secret passageway, Coraline follows it to an alternate reality where polar opposite versions of her parents lavish her with attention, treats and surprises; an enchanting world where wishes come true and everything revolves around Coraline; her perfect world, save for the fact that everyone in this world has buttons for eyes - and a twisted hidden agenda.

What starts out as a fantasy thrill-ride eventually turns into a harrowing escape caper.

The animation throughout the film is fluid and lifelike; there are some scenes, like a garden coming to life and a mouse circus, that show Selick & Co.'s mastery in the stop-motion arena. The flim's scarier transformations and hallucinogenic moments are genuinely disturbing if not terrifying; very dark and surreal imagery that's hard to forget.

Meanwhile, the score by Bruno Coualis, the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and the Children's Choir of Nice, is downright eerie, subtly heightens the creepiness of it all.

Dakota Fanning drives the story forward effortlessly and credibly as Coraline. Teri Hatcher's transformation from mom to "other" mom to something else entirely is subtle and effective, very Cruella De Vil-esque in all the right ways. Comic John Hodgman (of "Hi, I'm a PC" fame), meanwhile, has a good turn as dad and "other" dad, and extends his chops with some singing.

This DVD ships with four pairs of 3D glasses and offers both 2D and 3D versions of the film in hopes of to recreate the in-theatre 3D experience... but it's not the same. At home, the 3D is serviceable - it works - but the novelty wears thin. Besides, much like those optical-trick puzzles that require you to stare at an image for some time before it shows a 3D illusion, 3D movies just don't work for some people. Hence, good old 2D is there if you need it.

The DVD's special features aren't particularly "special," but they are fun and/or fascinating enough to watch once. Bonus content includes a Making of Coraline feature with Henry Selik (450 people poured their souls into making this genre classic), deleted scenes and brief interview with the cast.

Fans of animation will appreciate Coraline as extremely well directed and realistic, an animated story that surpasses anything you've seen in stop-motion to date. At the same time movie watchers in general will likely find Coraline a refreshing break from the slick and overly stylized CGI-animated eye-candy that's become the norm in animation today.
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Score:  4.25  (out of 5)