I really ought to start reading Neil Gaiman, I guess. Everybody seems to like him, he has legions of fans. Maybe I’ve been put off by his reputation as the king of the graphic novels, a genre I am totally uninterested in. This stop-action animation is based on a juvenile novel by him, and it’s quite good.
Coraline is not a sweet little thing. She’s grumpy, whiney, and a bit of a pain in the ass. This is all to the good, as far as I’m concerned. She discovers a passageway into another world, where she has an Other Mother and an Other Father. This sounds good to her, because she’s not too happy with the originals … and with some justification, as they don’t pay her much attention. The new parents are everything she could wish for, and so is the Other World. The only problem is the Others have buttons for eyes. Their true nature eventually becomes apparent.
I’m continually amazed that there are people so devoted to stop-motion animation that, in this CGI day, they still produce feature-length movies like this. Stop-motion is hard, and CGI looks easy. I’m sure it’s not, but it has to be easier than moving a hundred picture elements a fraction of an inch, taking a picture, and then moving them all again. I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m happy to see the art-form being kept alive. The director of this one also did The Nightmare Before Christmas, and each of these movies are worth half a dozen of the recent ground-out CGI opuses (Pixar films excepted). And I have to confess that, many times in this film and others, I am stunned, and end up saying “How did they do that?” It can’t be stop-action, but apparently it is. At the beginning of this one there is a sequence where a spidery machine is sewing up a doll, and it is just beyond me how they did that with models. And I’m pretty sure they had to cheat here and there, as in flowing fog and lighted candles. This is a craft for obsessive-compulsives; it would drive me nuts within three frames.