British author, Neil Gaiman published a novel in 2002 called, “Coraline.” The novel is about the titular character and her family who move to a new house. Their new neighbors have eccentric personalities. Coraline’s parents begin to renovate the home, becoming too distracted by the house making her feel distant from them. Sometime later, she discovers a secret passage to a parallel universe. Coraline encounters different versions of her parents & neighbors unaware of the world’s sinister nature. The novel earned good reviews from several book critics and readers alike.
After Henry Selick released his critically panned film Monkeybone, Neil Gaiman invited Henry to his home to discuss the possibly of a film adaptation based on Neil’s book. The reason why Neil personally handpicked Henry, is because he and his daughter are fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Production for the film took five years to develop a script, a three act structure, designing puppets, set pieces among many other aspects to bring Neil’s vision to life. Neil & Henry handpicked Dakota Fanning (one of my favorite actresses) as the title character. Possibly for her involvement in the live action remake of Charlotte’s Web.
Coraline was released in 2009. (same year Pixar’s Up came out) It received positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Plus, it made enough cash at the box office.
The film went on to become an eligible “Best Animated Film” nominee at The 82nd Academy Awards & The 67th Golden Globe Awards. Despite winning nothing, Coraline remains a modern cult classic.
Dakota Fanning announced she signed on to co-star in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming ninth film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt & Margot Robbie. In response to Dakota working with one of my favorite directors of all time, I’ve decided to share my real thoughts on what’s good or bad about Coraline.
Today’s review doesn’t contain any SPOILERS. Feel free to read this non-spoiler article, just in case if you’ve never seen it. Does Coraline deserve recognition? Well let’s find out shall we?
Pros & Cons
Pros: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Keith David & Ian McShane all did an outstanding job for their voiceover performances.
Stop Motion Animation didn’t seem too awkward nor ugly looking. Certain colors are beautiful and depressing to reflect the nature of both worlds. (a la The Wizard Of Oz)
Henry Selick did a great job for writing & directing the film.
Character Development involving Coraline, she goes from a sharp tongued spoiled brat to a patient girl who learns the true meaning of respect towards her real parents and neighbors. Rather than relying on a fantasy world as a way to escape loneliness.
The primary theme involves reality & fantasy. Both represent how we view certain moments in society and our imagination. Making us viewers relate to Coraline interacting between her world and the alternate reality.
I am shocked (in a good way) that this movie had the guts to pull a real scare factor than Eddie Murphy’s lackluster horror comedy The Haunted Mansion.
Similar to Tim Burton’s animated films, humor contains black comedy. I gotta love Coraline’s reaction to an old lady performing on stage. If you know what I’m talkin’ about.
A running gag involving a few characters accidentally address Coraline as Caroline. A subtle nod to Neil Gaiman, who misspelled Caroline as Coraline. He decided to throw it in as a unique name.
Props for the film were created using 3D printers in order to craft customized puppets and set pieces. The crew deserve Bonus Points for all that hard work. Somebody give them a Christmas Bonus!
The main villain’s motif and design is inspired by Pennywise’s true form from Stephen’s King’s It. I can’t tell you who the antagonist of Coraline is, you’re gonna have to find out.
One character quotes Whoopi Goldberg’s quote, “You in danger girl” from Ghost. Coincidentally, Patrick Swayze tragically died from pancreatic cancer the exact same year Coraline came out. Perhaps Henry & Neil added this as way to remember Patrick’s legacy before he passed away.
According to the production designers, Coraline’s father and his alternate counterpart, are designed after Sam Raimi’s brother, Ted. I would assume Neil or Henry are fans of The Evil Dead.
Buttons are used as a metaphor for escaping reality as we enter a world where our fantasy world comes to life.
I’m gonna give this film an Additional Point for possibly inspiring Stranger Things, The 2017 version of It and the upcoming sequel. What do these two have in common? An alternate world, a villain whose only motive is to survive by eating something important and the main character who must overcome his deepest darkest fear.
Henry Selick’s face is on a dollar bill. It is the closest thing for a cameo appearance.
Cons: I’m gonna be brutally honest with you guys & gals. I couldn’t find anything wrong with this movie. I’m giving the cast & crew an Extra Point for making this picture as flawless as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Coraline is one of the best animated stop motion horror movies next to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie & ParaNorman. If you’re interested in Coraline, I strongly recommend it.
Let’s see if Dakota Fanning has what it takes to portray a henchwoman in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Her role as Jane from the Twilight series doesn’t count as a dignified role. The Alienist gave us a hint as a possible career comeback, will have to see if Quentin can resurrect her status back on the A-List, just like he did with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. Only time will tell.