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01 August, 2009

DVD Review: CORALINE Two-Disc Collector’s Edition

Title: CORALINE Two-Disc Collector’s Edition

Year of Release—Film: 2009

Year of Release—DVD: 2009

DVD Label: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Neil Gaiman is one of the hottest names in Horror, a writer whose graphic novels such as Sandman and MirrorMask have established him as one of the top authors o

f Fantastic fiction. His work has also found its way to the big screen, with films such as MIRRORMASK, STARDUST, BEOWULF, and now CORALINE.

Henry Selick, the same man who brought Tim Burton’s NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS to life, directs CORALINE, based on Gaiman’s 2002 children’s fable. Coraline is a smart, rebellious pre-teen girl, whose parents have relocated the family from Pontiac, Michigan to rural Oregon. They move into the Pink Palace, an old house that has been converted into apartments. The other residents of the building are extremely eccentric, from the elderly actre

sses who share the basement apartment, to the Russian Circus performer in the attic. But there are no other children in the apartments, and Coraline is lonely and unhappy. Her only friend is Wyborn, an odd, nerdy boy, the grandson of the owner of the Pink Palace.

Wyborn gives her a gift, a doll he says he found in his Grandmother’s attic—a doll that bears an uncanny resemblance to Coraline. This opens the door—both literally and figuratively—on a series of bizarre occurrences that soon has Coraline fighting not only for her existence, but for that of others as well.

Dakota Fanning voices Coraline, and while her always annoying, smarter-than-all-the-adults-in-the-room routine wears very thin, she does an acceptable job here. Perhaps not having to see her on-screen lessens her ability to get on my nerves. Teri Hatcher provides the voice of both Coraline’s Mother, and the other-worldly “Other Mother,” the antagonist of the story. Her performance is good, not exceptional, but it does the job. The rest of the cast

is decent, though there are no standouts.

Visually, the movie is spectacular, though the 3-D version was not screened. I have never seen a 3-D film that seemed worth the effort it took to produce it, nor was it necessary to view it in order to review the film. The 2-D animation was so richly detailed and so well done that it would be hard to imagine that a 39¢ pair of red & green glasses would improve it.

The one flaw in the film, and indeed in the Gaiman book that inspired it, is that both are considered to be for children. Trust me on this—this is not a children’s tale. While I’ve never been one to believe that children should be isolated from every possible frightening image or concept like some emotional “bubble” boy or girl, I do feel that there are certai

n themes that they just don’t need to deal with until they are of an age to understand them [see Too Much Horror, 30 May 2009]. Children already have an innate fear of separation; this movie would directly attack those fears. To market it to children is, I believe, irresponsible.

CORALINE is a superb story, and this is a very good adaptation of it. It’s visually flawless, and that carries the occasionally weak performances along. Gaiman fans will, I believe, be pleased, and those unfamiliar with his work may find cause to become familiar with it. It’s not perfect, and I certainly wouldn’t let any child under the age of ten watch it—but I enjoyed it, and have no hesitation in recommending it to you.

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