Sunday, February 15, 2009


"You probably think this world is a dream come true, but you're wrong!" Cat, Keith David.

Coraline is the seventh film by The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick. About half the people reading this just did a spit take. The Nightmare before Christmas director Henry Selick. Not The Nightmare Before Christmas director Tim Burton. So why then, is it called Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas? See, Tim Burton has spent his life trying to create his masterpiece. And while he has made some solid films(Ed Wood and Batman come to mind) he still hasn't made his masterpiece yet. Henry Selick did it in one film. Burton was so jealous that he used his producer status to put his name on the film. Here, with Coraline, Henry Selick has moved apart from Tim Burton but is using the same sort of material.
So is Coraline better then The Nightmare Before Christmas? To be honest I've never seen The Nightmare Before Christmas (I called it a masterpiece based on popular opinion) But when I do, it has a lot to live up to. Coraline is a beautifully made, but dark and twisted tale. It was so refreshing to see a children's movie that wouldn't brighten up for its audience. Wall-e did it last year by portraying the future as a desolate, over-consumerised wasteland(literally) and now in Coraline, whenever we are not in the dream other world, the colors Selick uses are Dark. He doesn't shy away from portraying creatures you see in, say, the final "game" Coraline plays with the other mother.
Plus there's the little things that Selick does. For example, one scene has Coraline, in her boredom, stepping on bumps on a carpet, trying to flatten them out. Later we see her jumping down the stairs and finally flattens the bumps, but Coraline doesn't notice this nor does Selick focus on it, which is his genius. It is also apparent in on line of the This is Giants song that appears in the middle of the film a bit of foreshadowing. "She's a BUTTON in the EYE'S of everyone who ever laid their EYE'S on Coraline" Is it just me, or is Selick playing with our minds?
Of course, I could also talk about how Selick could be commenting on family dynamics(The mother is the controlling force in the other world) or dictatorships(People's emotions are twisted to keep the facade of the joyful world) but why should I? Reviews for movies like this are useless. Like Rachel Getting Married, this is a movie that should be experienced, not dissected.

One point I do want to make is that, like many people, I saw this film in 3D. I think this is the future of 3D, or at least should be. Instead of being one of those "look ma, I'm in 3D" movies where things jump out at you (I assume My Bloody Valentine is like this, but I didn't care to see it.) this film uses 3D to create depth in the frame, heightening the beauty of the stop-motion animation. Cameron, take a page out of Henry Selick's book. It will make Avatar so much better.

Verdict:A beautiful stop-motion animation film that solidifies Henry Selick's position of being better than Tim Burton.


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