Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Coraline [2009]

Making a good adaptation is weird. Just because the movie of the book isn't just like the book doesn't mean that it's a bad movie. Of course, this isn't always the case. The Tale of Despereaux movie was terrible, and The Hobbit trilogy is... well, it's a big enough problem that I had to say trilogy.

Coraline on the other hand, isn't just like the book, but it's an awesome adaptation.

Where do I start... well, the film is stop-motion, and it is gorgeous. The sets are so detailed, and I heard that a crewmember was hired to knit clothes for the characters on teeny-tiny little knitting needles! The character design was cool, too. Especially Coraline and The Other Mother. I like the versatility you can get in stop-motion when it comes to designing characters.

I love the music, it's got kind of a Danny Elfman feel to it, but the composer is actually Bruno Coulais. There's some very good use of pizzicato strings and a creepy kid's choir singing in nonsense language.

Wybie, as always, dressed like a fireman.
Anyhoo, there is a few things that they added that weren't in the book- but it didn't bother me at all. The biggest change they made was that there's another kid who lives next door to Coraline- the unfortunately named Wyborne, or Wybie. Usually, adding characters is not a good idea (Boldo from the disastrous, evil incarnate Despereaux movie), but I actually really liked Wybie. The book has a lot of inner narration and Coraline wandering around exploring by herself. So it makes story-telling a lot easier if they have a second character for Coraline to work off of.

Aside from the addition of Wybie, the story is kept mostly intact from the book. A little girl, roughly 11 or 12 years old moves into a duplex with her mum and dad. However, the other side of the duplex isn't occupied, and there's a little door in Coraline's house that's bricked off. Late one night, Coraline finds herself drawn to the other side of the door (now mysteriously opened up), and on the other side, she finds a world just like her own, except that everyone inexplicably has button eyes. There's another mother, another father, even another Wybie. Things seem way better on the other version of her life. Her parents now have endless amounts of time for her, and there's always delicious snacks around. However, Coraline soon finds out that this other world is actually quite sinister.

The Other Mother
The movie doesn't distill any of the dark or slightly disturbing elements of the book, and the story plays out very well on screen. It's always neat to see how a book plays out in movie-format, especially something as strange and unique as Coraline.

Well, as much as I love this movie even I have to admit that there are... problems. Well, one problem. See, two of Coraline's neighbors, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, are implied to be former burlesque dancers, and in the Other world, there's a scene where they are **ahem** scantily clad. The movie gets away with this because it's actually two younger women in old lady costumes. Before that gets revealed though it's um... more disturbing than the Other Mother in her spider mode.
My reaction to the above mentioned scene.

Oh, and speaking of The Other Mother... Coraline is a story written for all ages, children to adults, and the same goes for the movie. But there are a few things that you might want to know before you pop this into the player for the young'ns. Naturally, spoilers follow.

If Coraline wants to stay in the Other world, she has to let The Other Mother replace her eyes with buttons. Coraline refuses, and soon finds out that this has happened to at least three other children before. And the other children are kind of, well, dead now. It's kind of a disturbing twist, and it might freak out young children. My little sister is ten, and she wasn't scarred for life, but more sensitive kids might be freaked out. So you know, use your own judgment.

The Verdict: A
Coraline is a terrific adaptation of a terrific book. If you like the book, this is worth a watch, and vice versa. The sets are very well made, and the look/feel of the movie is kooky and whimsical while still being suspenseful and creepy. It's not perfect, you know, there's some suggestive humor in it. But if you like this kind of movie, I would totally recommend Coraline.
Age Appropriateness: Preteens and up, but it varies from person to person. I know some adults who would be uncomfortable with Coraline.

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