Life + Arts

Step into world of ‘Coraline’

Phantasmagoria has a place in childhood, and that place is in Coraline, the newest offering from director Henry Selick.

Childhood movies tend to be rife with trite characterization and cheap one-liners. Films that charm beyond one viewing must transcend these easy thrills and dare to include more depth.

Coraline Jones is the only child of two writers, fresh off a long-distance move and alone in a decidedly sinister old house.’ The neighbors don’t do much to reassure. Downstairs is a competitive pair of sisters, former stage performers who stuff their dead Scotties, complete with knit cloaks and golden wings. Upstairs is Mr. Bobinsky, the eccentric proprietor of a circus of jumping mice.

Add in Wybie, the stalking neighbor, and the most inscrutable cat since Carroll’s disappearing Cheshire, and Coraline engages with the unexpected humanity of its characters from its opening scene.

The decision to use stop motion is a risky one, but combined with effectively-used special effects, Coraline charms.

Coraline’s childhood is lonely, between the move and her parents’ preoccupation.’ Enter the magical land, to which only she can escape and is tailored to her desires.

‘When she sees this other world, it’s just perfect,’ Dakota Fanning, who voiced Coraline, said in a Focus Features press release.

However, Coraline soon realizes the other world is not all it seems to be.

Like Labyrinth and Beetlejuice, the gimcrackery of special effects must be kept relevant and used to provoke more than atavism.

Henry Selick, the director of James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas, is synonymous with modern stop-motion work.

Using both stop motion and 3-D was risky, but necessary – not to thrill, but to incorporate the viewer into the fantasy.

‘The one thing about stop motion is that it’s real stuff, it’s tangible,’ Selick said in a Focus Features press release. ‘It reaches into the reptile center of the brain, and you’ll know it’s real – 3-D enhances that.’

Coraline is technically brilliant. However, the real grace of the movie is that the effects take a subtle backseat to the simple human art of storytelling.’ Coraline is sure to delight and enthrall both fans of the book and those new to the story.’ ‘

Rated: PG
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher,
Verdict: Revive the magic of childhood in the whimsical and sinister world of Henry Selick.

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