Sunday, March 01, 2009
Many of you have probably heard of or seen Coraline, the latest stop frame animated feature by director Henry Selick, who's most famous film would be The Nightmare Before Christmas. Like the classic of old, Coraline is entirely animated and contains a "real world" and a "fantasy world," filled with unique and colourful characters who will capture both your imagination and sense of innocence.
Coraline (Dakota Fanning) and her family move to a new home in the country, and while she's fascinated by her new neighbours, such as the eccentric performer Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane) and the annoying and nerdy local boy, Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.), she's equally frustrated with her parents lack of time or attention for her. Coraline's mother (Teri Hatcher) and father (John Hodgman) are so wrapped up in their gardening work, they push her aside as often as possible. Until Coraline gets a special doll that happens to look just like her.
Setting about a string of unusual events, Coraline finds a hidden door in her new home that takes her to what appears to be a mirror world, a world where every thing's the same as in reality, but in the exact way that Coraline herself would like. Except everyone in this world has buttons for eyes. It's here that Coraline meets her Other Mother (Teri Hatcher), a loving and attentive version of her real mother who would do anything for her "daughter." Or would she?
Things are not all bright and cheery as they first appear in the other world, but really, when all is said and done, the plot for Coraline is rather basic, simple, and somewhat predictable. In fact, I personally couldn't recommend the film on the strengths of it's plot, or voice acting, or even it's animation, which is excellent though nothing we haven't seen before. No, the major draw, the only real reason I'd recommend seeing Coraline in theatres is simply because it's brought to us in 3D.
Upon entering the theatre, you're provided with a set of 3D glasses (that resemble sunglasses instead of the cheesy red and blue glasses of old), and even many of the previews before the feature are brought to us in 3D. It's also not the traditional 3D effects of old, objects and characters don't typically jump out at you, instead, this optical illusion is a wonderful perception of depth. Think something along the lines of a children's pop-up book, where certain objects appear closer than others. This is actually a very fitting analogy, given the fact that the film is based on a children's book.
The 3D effects are great, and there's several instances where some objects appear to enter the screen from behind your shoulder, first seen in your peripheral vision. Admittedly, I found I got somewhat desensitised to the 3D effects about half-way through the film and they all started to blend in, but they were still fun to watch never-the-less.
To sum it up, Coraline is not an exceptional film, but it is a fun film with some great tech behind it. There are also several other animated features coming out soon that will make use of this new 3D effects, and I'm already considering seeing a few of them just to wear those bulky glasses again.