|'a great amount of unique visual style and creative juice, dancing all over a plot that feels wafer thin'|
It seems unfortunately fitting that Coraline, a film spawned from the mind of wordsmith-extraordinaire Neil Gaiman and bought to live by inventive director Henry Selick, eventually boils down to being a great amount of unique visual style and creative juice, dancing all over a plot that felt flimsy in the source material and feels wafer thin here.
Which isn't, of course, to say that Coraline has nothing going for it. Nominated for the Animated Film Oscar, Selick's unique stop-motion visuals are a joy which, after James And The Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas, the director has learnt both how to present and how to trust. So, we get a lengthy title sequence of nothing but his animations and the film's fantastic music, from a score which is fittingly ethereal but never so much that it threatens to swamp you in over-fashionable ambiguity.
Gaiman's story too has bags of potential, following our titular heroine's (Dakota Fanning) adventures through a door in her new home to an apparently parallel dimension where her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) are strange beasts with buttons for eyes.
In the end though, the visuals can't distract enough from the lack of development which hampers nearly every character. People certainly change (especially in the other dimension) but few actually grow as individuals in any way, especially Coraline who is joined in the on-screen incarnation by Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) a character not present in the book and representative of the fact that Gaiman's core plot, whilst an entertaining fable, is not nearly developed enough for a feature length film. Despite Selick's obvious recognition of this, his attempts to correct it are only skin deep, leaving an especially dark and inventive fairy tale which only hints at something much more involving.
'Entertaining, funny and surprisingly suspenseful at times, Coraline is the perfect movie for your little one...and for the child in all of us' - Reel Talk, A