Watching CORALINE 3D


Ellen and I saw it last night. I liked it quite a lot, though I have to say I prefer the graphic novel adaptation of the story by P. Craig Russell as an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s story.

There were many things that writer/director Henry Selick did that are brilliant. Primary among them is to take a small but important element of Neil’s story, the button eyes, and craft an entire visual approach around it, from the opening credits of a Coraline doll being made, through all the sewing/needles/crafts visuals in the film, even to elements of the special effects, when, near the end, Coraline sees the Other Mother’s world begin to actually unravel like thread. That is inspired animation and design. The character designs were all generally good, though I found Mr. B’s spherical stomach a bit distracting, and Mr. Jones’ u-shaped neck the same. The set designs were wonderful, as was all the music except perhaps the Other Mr. Jones’ song.

The 3D worked surprisingly seamlessly for me. Usually I find it distracting, and see double images at times. On this film I often forgot about it completely, which means it worked extremely well. I’ve never worn those 3D glasses for so long, and by the end of the film they were getting uncomfortable, the only downside.

Some things I didn’t like: the addition of the boy (Wyborn?). Thought he was unneccesary and dorky. Had some problems with the cat at first, but he grew on me. Mostly the way he looked, I guess. Some problems with the plot changes. Neil’s story has a carefully balanced symmetry between the two worlds. Selick’s makes the real world too unappealing, the Other world too appealing, I thought, though I understand why he did it. Coraline’s real parents were pretty awful, while in the book it was clear that Coraline herself was at least partly to blame for her own dissatifactions. Some plot points in the film may have been disrupted by editing. When we first see Coraline in the film, she’s searching for a hidden well, but we never know why, or how she knows about it. In the book, Coraline is told early by the two old ladies to stay away from the dangerous well, giving her a good reason to look for it. Perhaps a scene in the film like that was cut, I don’t know.

Overall, I liked the film, and see it as a major achievement in animation, but not yet a perfectly realized Neil Gaiman film adaptation. One day perhaps that will arrive. Meanwhile, this one is certainly well worth seeing and is highly recommended.

3 thoughts on “Watching CORALINE 3D

  1. Jonathan

    I agree that it’s a pretty good film and not a “perfect” film adaptation of Gaiman’s original.

    And while I can understand that not everything in a book translates well to film, I do remain a bit confused about why certain things were dropped or change, since (to me, at least), they seem like they would work well on film. (I kept waiting for the Other Mother to swear on her hand, whiich never happened.)

    As far as Wybie, on one hand I can see why Coraline needs someone to talk to, since there are a lot of internal monologues/thought processes in the book. But the ending was changed from a self-absorbed girl becoming self-reliant and coming up with a risky plan to a damsel in distress getting rescued, which seems to run counter to the entire message of the book.

    As far as the music goes, I think it, like the rest of the film and book, works differently for children and adults. All my girls, ages 8, 6, and 4, love the Other Father’s song and sing it all the time. The commercial with the song is their favorite ad for the movie. So it’s certainly appealing to kids, which is sort of the point.

  2. strugglingwriter

    My wife and I saw it the opening Saturday. I was fine with most of the changes, except the ending. I don’t know why Coraline needed help in the end. Still, I also heartily recommend it.

  3. Laura

    I felt the same about the ending–why oh why have Wybie save her? I quite liked the movie while I watched it, but when they ruin the ending like that it makes me not want to see the movie again. Which was exactly my response to Stardust, as well.

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