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Delorted's Movie Reviews (169)

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Coraline 
Review - Coraline (2009)
2/4 stars

Nearly sixteen years after the long forgotten and then suddenly remembered again The Nightmare Before Christmas, director Henry Selick released another beautifully filmed stop-motion film: Coraline. He did make James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone in between those, but nobody seems to remember James and the Giant Peach, and nobody seems to want to remember Monkeybone. Regardless, his fourth major delve into stop-motion animation is one that I both applaud and denounce.

The story is of a girl named Coraline, who has recently moved into a new apartment complex. Rather bored with her new abode, she find a door sealed away behind wallpaper, and decides to go exploring. Inside she find an alternate version of her world in which her parents, her neighbors, and her home are nothing less than perfect. Perfection comes at a price, however, as Coraline soon realizes.

Standing out among all else is the vibrant world beyond the door, filled with colorful scenery and lots of creative moving parts throughout. Even the dull reality side is done very well, creating a nice parallel between the two worlds. The animation, however, is lacking. At times it looks passable, but there are some scenes (especially one involving a large quantity of mice) where the animation quality seems to dip below even British standards, which really takes away from the film at times. Coraline's face is very choppy at times, in a very similar style I found in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

There is a song that plays at the beginning of the film and continues to replay throughout the film to which I found it particularly atrocious to listen. It's a sort of down-to-earth piece that sets the mood for the film fine, but anytime the vocals kicked in I wanted to stab myself in the ear with a tuning fork. The rest of the music is generally the same, only without the vocals so it was at least tolerable. The song (Songs? I wasn't really sure) written by They Might Be Giants, however, was very catchy and immediately went into my audio library.

The story is one I had heard before, having read the book shortly before the film was announced. I try my hardest not to compare mediums, but I did enjoy the story in both. I found the addition of Coraline's neighbor and sort-of friend Wybie completely useless, as the story flowed perfectly fine without him. I can't think of a single instance in which his character is useful, other than to give Coraline somebody to talk to when she isn't constantly talking to herself. The dialogue used for these monologuing situations is very annoying as we could have easily followed the story without her incessant narration. Also, the last act of the film was obviously written for the video game. Mix up? Laziness? I don't know, but it was rather blatant.

Voicing Coraline in this film is young actress Dakota Fanning, who delivers the absolute worst reads I have heard for an animated film in a long time. There isn't a single line of dialogue spoken by her that doesn't sound forced and/or obviously read from a script. I've never really felt Ms. Fanning was in any way an adequate actress, but to hear that she can't even do voiceover work is simply disheartening. The rest of the characters did well enough with what they had to work with except for the other child actor, Robert Bailey, voicing Wybie. His lines sound just as forced, if not just a little bit more professional.

I know it sounds like I'm bashing harshly on this film, but I did enjoy watching it. The scenery was wonderful to look at, and I do enjoy the story, but I couldn't help noticing too many troublesome moments in the animation, the script and especially the voice work to entirely enjoy the experience.

FINAL VERDICT: 3/5


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