The team who brought you the stop-motion animation masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas is back delivering a terrifying but fantastic film yet again. Neil Gaiman’s wonderfully eerie children’s book hits the screen in a big way, and works great as a SMA movie. I imagine that a live action version would not be as convincingly scary.
Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is a ten year old girl who has moved to a three story housing complex completely against her will. She misses her friends. She doesn’t want to go to a new school. Her upstairs neighbor, a Mr. B, is slightly crazy, while the two retired actresses living below are just as balmy. The two are voiced perfectly by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, the wackiest British comediennes ever. Her parents are always busy and don’t want to be pestered by Coraline. She remains bored to death, even when she makes friends with a weird kid named Wyborn. While all this transpires, she wishes for a better and more exciting life. She finds a door in the living room that leads to another world that’s so fantastic. She has a really cool Other Mother (both mothers are voiced by Teri Hatcher) and her crazy neighbors are interesting and fun. But all of them lack a real human quality and have button eyes. She soon learns that all is not what appears. The Other Mother is one of the scariest characters ever exhibited on screen.
At first, the film is very slow and drags on with no purpose. It isn’t until Coraline enters the Other World that the film gets exciting. There are several elements, such as the character of Wybie, that are not in the original book. The black cat is a purrfect cynical version of Jiminy Cricket and speaks in a very wise tone.
The animation in the film is flawless and the movements the figures make are seamless and unbelievably fluid. Thy have come so for since Nightmare. It is really quite amazing. But as amazing as the film is, I wouldn’t let anyone under the age of eleven see it. It is too scary, and the images are a little too disturbing for young ones. Not only that, but it makes a mother the main villain. Parents may also frown at the buxom Miss Forcible. Don’t take your younger kids to see it, no matter how fantastic it is.