Hello Wanderers, and welcome to your once-an-issue, fortnightly GUST review, in which we take a look at media which is meant for a younger age group, and try to say whether, in our judgement, we think grown ups should check it out too. And I’m going to be honest with you here, when I got the GUST assignment this issue, I was genuinely stumped for a moment. I searched my brain, and came up with nothing to review. Then it came to me, in a blaze of… Yeah, okay, it wasn’t some miraculous thing, I just saw the DVD for a movie I really liked. People, welcome to a review of Coraline.
Coraline, originally a book by Neil Gaiman, was the first stop motion feature film output (that wasn’t contracted) from company Laika, and was directed by Henry Selick – not Tim Burton, which is a common misconception. The film follows 11 year old Coraline Jones, as she moves with her parents from Michigan to a run down apartment building in Oregon. Said apartment building has interesting tenants already in the retired actresses, the Misses Spink and Forcible, and an eccentric Russian acrobat, Mr. Bobinsky. Due to her parents constantly needing to work, Coraline feels neglected. She meets, and is unimpressed with, the grandson of the landlady, Wybie Lovat. It is during this period of feeling neglected that Coraline finds a small door in the wall of their apartment. When it is opened, it leads her to a world where everything is exactly as she’d want it – her parents are overly attentive, her neighbours exciting, and even Wybie is bearable. However, to stay in this world, there is a price to pay. One which Coraline won’t pay. Needless to say, her Other Mother is really not happy…
Coraline is a fantasy escape movie, as well as being a bit of a horror tale, which really you should expect when it comes from Neil Gaiman. He once said that he writes to suit himself, I believe, and also notes that children don’t get scared of the same things that adults do. That’s really why Coraline works. Well, that and the fantastic animation from Laika – who I will continue to praise if they continue to release beautiful movies. It’s spooky in a way that will scare even adults – I know a few who were creeped out by the sight of the new black-button eyed dolls in the toy aisles of stores just after this movie came out. In a way, the movie preys on a very basic fear, the lost of what makes the people who know, the people you know. Coraline finds the world that she wants, but discovers that in the end, it’s very superficial and has a lot of hidden dangers and, really, she much prefers her own world.
Oh, and the Other Mother is the most terrifying thing to be ever to put any form of animation thus far. Just… trust me on this until you see the movie, alright? She is terrifying. So, really, well done Gaiman and Laika.
Right, so we want an unbiased review, yes? Then I need to consider if there’s anything negative I can say about Coraline. I’ll admit, I’m finding it a hard thing to do. I suppose, if pushed – can you tell I really like this movie – I will say that maybe Coraline does spend a little too long with the whole … enchantment theme and not enough with the actual story. However, I will say that opinions will differ, and you may think they don’t spend enough time building that up. People’s reactions are always different.
So! Why should grown ups check this out. Beyond being a really good fantasy, and actually decent bit of horror as well? The animation is stunning, the voice actors all do a fantastic job, and it’s one of those movies that you can’t help but feel engrossed in as you’re watching it. Check out Coraline, I’m sure you’ll love it. If not … direct all complaints to the complaint department. (Please note: said department makes it own hours and we’re not quite sure about some of the noises that come from there…)
Z McAspurren (Oh, They Might Be Giants wrote a song for the movie. Yeah.)