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Coraline: Cute as a Button?
by Amanda Knoss

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A journey to a modern-day 'Wonderland.'

A journey to a modern-day 'Wonderland.'
In a year chock-full of novel adaptations and 3D interpretations, it takes more than just a good story to stand out above the crowd. In the case of CORALINE, it took the mind of a great author, the vision of an experienced director, and the tolling work of ground-breaking special effects to bring together this wondrous fantasy.

The long-awaited film is based on world-renowned author Neil Gaiman's novel, "Coraline," and is directed by THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS's Henry Selick.

Gaiman has dazzled both adult and child audiences everywhere with his broad imagination and his ability to bring the fantastical to life on paper. His novel STARDUST was also adapted into a film in 2007.

The story of CORALINE involves the title character and the parallel world she discovers behind a tiny, locked door in the wall of her family's new, drab apartment. The door leads her to an apartment that echoes hers, only this one is occupied by fun parents and exciting experiences. But not all is what it seems, and the young protagonist learns that sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

CORALINE has been compared by many to THE WIZARD OF OZ and ALICE IN WONDERLAND, most assuredly because of it's sampling of other-worldly goodness. It features the elements of a dark fairy-tale with the coming-of age morals taught by the these other two films. But like the novels that both of the latter movies are based
What's a twisted tale without a creepy circus ring master?

What's a twisted tale without a creepy circus ring master?
on, CORALINE shed some of its dark creepiness and traded it in for a more colorful, yet involving, experience.

In all honesty, as a fan of Gaiman's work, I was one of those individuals who took one look at the hype behind the movie and expected the worst. STARDUST, although a fantastic film, differed quite a bit from the source material, and “Coraline” holds a lot of dark whimsy that may not have transferred properly into film.

And although the film did differ a lot from the novel, including a completely new and consequential character, it was a surprisingly delightful film that family audiences everywhere are sure to enjoy.

One of the best things that Gaiman brings to a modern-day fairy tale, beyond his wit and vivid imagination, is his ability to take an ordinary object and turn it into something frightening.



Who knew that buttons could be creepy?

If hardcore Gaiman fans weren't enough to please, then there were also the fans of both 3D effects and stop-motion animation to
Brilliant filming in the making.

Brilliant filming in the making.
appease as these two elements work together for the very first time as a full-length feature film.

The gamble is sure to be considered successful - stop-motion animation and 3D were a natural combination that enhanced the wondrous visuals of Coraline's colourful experiences. One might wonder why the two hadn't been combined to make a feature before, but it wasn't until recently that theatres became equipped with the ability to screen modern 3D productions. Plus, with all of the advancements in CG, why would one take the pain-staking effort to produce merely 74 seconds of film every week?

"For me it's a much more pleasurable way to make a film," says director Henry Selick to New York website The Gothamist. " I've done one CG short and I worked with very talented people, but with stop motion you've got stages, lights; you're performing through puppets. And that world of cutting things out of wood and molding things in plastic and machining things in metal... I'm just very attracted to that."

So far, CORALINE's 1 hour and 40 minutes has pulled in almost $43 million at the box office world-wide.

So what's next for fans who enjoyed the storytelling of CORALINE?

Although there is no word of a new Gaiman project hitting theatres again any time soon, those who were thrilled by the novelty of a full-length animated film in 3D will definitely enjoy Dreamwork's upcoming MONSTERS VS. ALIENS. The
Hopefully Gaiman's next nightmare-turned-film.

Hopefully Gaiman's next nightmare-turned-film.
movie is about the invasion of aliens in the United States, and the enrolment by the military of earthly monsters that have been covered up over the years to take on the extraterrestrials. Like CORALINE, which was the first stop-motion animated film to be filmed in 3D, MONSTERS will be the first computer-animated film to be filmed in 3D. It is currently scheduled to hit theatres on March 27.

Soon after comes Pixar's UP, also a computer-animated 3D film, that tells the tale of a rickety old man who sets off on a journey with his house - in the air, and unknowingly with the companionship of a young boy scout. UP is set to be released on May 29.

Then for fans of the darker fantasy tales comes Tim Burton's new computer-animated film, 9. Fittingly being released on September 9, this story is one of a post-apocalyptic parallel world and the living ragdolls that fight to survive in their dire universe. This is also the second animated feature by CORALINE's distribution company, Focus Features.

So if you're looking for a clean, hard break from your every-day reality, at least temporarily, CORALINE is a great film to check out. The combination of stop-motion and 3D were delightful enough to make the extra few bucks of a ticket price for the latter element worth it.

And perhaps Gaiman's "Sandman" fans will be temporarily appeased while they hope for a similar journey onto film that "Coraline" experienced.

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Cenobite
Feb 18, 2009 9:21 AM
[X] delete
Amanda, this is sooo cool. Thanks for the article! I really enjoyed this.



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Bleeding Full-Length Feature Films.
Every other Tuesday

The new, the old and the ugly of film through the perspective of realism, fanaticism or just plain late-night insomnia ism.


Other Columns
Other columns by Amanda Knoss:

Secondaries: Part Two

Ub Iwerks: Engineering Creativity

UK-Crazy

Star Wars Cubicle Gear

Mano-a-Mano: The Travolta Role

All Columns


Amanda Knoss
If there's something Amanda can't commit to, it's a single taste in films. She believes that Walmart, Starbucks and a certain super-power government are going to clan together to take over the world. Either that, or she's over-caffeinated again.


Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Amanda Knoss by clicking here.


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