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Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:46 pm
by Joseph Park
Being a fan of Nightmare Before Christmas, and bizaare fantasy flicks... I hardly can wait for this one.

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:29 pm
by dark77778
My only worry is that the story will be too convoluted and try to go too many places at once. The trailer seems to convey that impression on me, but I'll certainly still see it.

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:30 am
by SonOfaRich
Just saw the trailer. It looks amazing, but I do see Dark's concern. There does seem to be a whole lot going on. Then again, trailers like to jumble everything together.

Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:42 pm
by dark77778
Just came back from seeing Coraline. I missed watching the Monday screening which all my friends went to in Toronto, so here I am on Friday night [Saturday morning] to give my impressions. It's a hefty movie so I have a mouthful to say so I'll scale the font down for aesthetic sake.

Coraline is a charmingly constructed claymation which leans, thankfully, more towards the similarities of James and the Giant Peach than trying to be like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The film uses Gaiman’s theory as its driving point, being that it has to establish a full world before anything can happen in it. However, as Gaiman has demonstrated over and over again, watching the building of his worlds is half the fun, and in this case, half the movie. A good friend of mine saw the advanced screening and commented that the movie has “video game logic” and after seeing the film, I have to agree. While watching this movie, there are two games that come to mind: Persona 3 and The Legend of Zelda [ specifically Twilight Princess but Ocarina of Time works too].I’ll explain how this works as it constructs the story, just so that I can get this out of the way before I go off on how magnificent the film is.

To draw the parallel first between Persona 3 and the first half of Coraline, one needs to be aware of the explicitly narrative matching of world A [The real world] with world B [the Other world]. Basically, what’ll happen is a problem or moment of anxt will ensue in world A and the moment of anxt will be fixed and made better in world B. This is done in a very causal fashion where the viewer can essentially pick out in their mind what to expect in the response from world B, but it’s a totally different thing to see it. It’s very layered and very organized presentation, which on one hand means that not a second is wasted to develop the world, but on the other hand, means that both worlds end up feeling unrealistic instead of just world B. This part of the movie is well driven though, despite its formulaic nature, because of the sense of surprise and wonder that is delivered by showing different reflections of world A. Like in Persona, there is a distinctive process of ‘Things that happen in World A’ and ‘Things that happen in World B’, which have only a little to do with each other, and unfortunately, that feels a little disappointing and weird when you’re watching it instead of playing it.

The problems arise in the second half of the film, after the whole world is explored [literally...] where Coraline steps up to the challenge and goes on a quest to find the three magical items in three magical ‘levels’, each with their own boss. These items have almost nothing to do with the story except for the fact that it shows the crumbling of the established world, done with Twilight Princess graphics of course: which look gorgeous, but you really get a sense of there being a ‘Level complete!’ message coming across the screen every time it happens. It was almost as though the director was running out of time and said ‘screw the story, let’s just get some boss fights!’, and so instead of it feeling cool, it feels forced instead.

Aside from that, well...this film is amazing! If you can set aside the weird (not to be confused with awkward) pacing, the film has gorgeous animation, nice writing, outrageous and creepy character design, and a musical score that`s to die for, complete with a thirty second song by They Might Be Giants, which felt like it should`ve gone on for another two minutes into a whole musical number. I`m not one to usually want to buy film soundtracks, but that`s almost all I was thinking about with every song that played in the film, especially the jazzy cat song.

Something needs to be said about the characters in this review, so I`ll take the liberty of saying it. The movie opens up with an obese Russian acrobat doing palates on the roof, there is a pair of elderly women who do something that I never thought I’d see in a PG13 movie, a boy with the most insulting name ever given to anybody...worse than even Millhouse, and of course the signature Coraline cat, who acts almost similarly to another well known other-worldly feline...just more catlike, which is good.

Overall, it’s a stunning package which doesn’t really offer itself up as a single delicious main course, and rather as a distinctively twelve-course meal of hors d'œuvres, which you don’t realize until your through just how full you are, and yet you remember every little thing that you ate. For a fun jaunt through the many layers of a darkly imagined world, may I highly recommend the Coraline.

P.S: Stay till the end of the credits for something that will blow your mind!

P.P.S: As you might’ve guessed, there’s a trailer of ‘9’ that plays before the film so don’t skip out on the trailers. It was so good on the big screen that I started giving a ‘rock on’ to the screen while “Welcome Home” played. I even heard a bunch of delighted “woah!”s behind me while the trailer progressed.

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:06 am
by Kazu
This film totally blew my mind. It's been a while since I've seen anything like it. Full review later. I think I want to see it again before I write one up.

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:56 am
by jcaffoe
oh man am I pumped to see this this weekend...

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:03 am
by Rythem 'Scat' Cat
I'll watch it tonight and see if it's as good as everyone says. I'll be back with my review. :D

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:07 am
by dark77778
Ugh. Just as a side-note, don't be surprised if the theater is full of preppy girls going to see "He's just not that into you." I was actually almost disappointed when they said that the showing of that chick flick was sold out instead of Coraline. I really hope the film doesn't bomb.

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:48 pm
by Josh Mauser
well, I certainly hope not! The theater was packed when I went to see it last night.

So, the monumental artistic talent on display here is pretty obvious so I won't bother gushing. The film is beyond beautiful, and it's freakin' incredible that it was all stop motion. I'm truly curious to see a "making of" featurette, if just to see which parts were enhanced digitally because it always turns out to surprise me, at least a couple times, which parts were actually hand-crafted effects. ( I was also very happy to see Vera and Graham in the storyboard credits at the end! Had no idea, great job you guys!).

The story really engaged me. Although I did chuckle when I made the same video game parallel that dark did in the second half of the movie, hehe. Ain't nothin wrong with that!

It really brought back to me the that great feeling of old school fantasy/fairy tale where things just ARE, you know? The fact that Coraline wasn't asking "Why?" or "What's going on!" constantly and just "rolled with the blows" of craziness in a very confident and inquisitive manner was a fine character trait that really appealed to me.

While the 3-D wasn't detrimental in any way (if anything it just made the eye candy more sweet) I thought that people that see the 2D version aren't going to miss out on the majesty. Although, certainly the bit after the credits was an awesome use of the technology. Is having both versions on one DVD too much to ask? Or was the 3D only for theaters?

At any rate, I enjoyed the film immensely, and I wish I didn't find it so difficult to scrape together the $12 to see it again (I mean, I loved the movie but that's pretty steep).

EDIT: Forgot to mention the music, it's insanely good. In fact I might use that second ticket price to buy the soundtrack instead.

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:07 pm
by Rythem 'Scat' Cat
Just got back from watching Coraline and I must say that it is a spectical to behold. I can see the effort put into this. Good thing I saw the making of it. I think it said that they did 2 seconds a day. Either way, it was amazing, wether it be 3D or not. Well, it's time to do some fanart! :D

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:32 pm
by Tony
*Sigh* I did not like it. Please do not throw your shoes at me.

I have some thoughts as to why, but I'm not the best at articulating that sort of thing. I would say the film felt "flat" to me, and that it was missing some intangible elements that I don't know how to put my finger on. I am interested to hear some other opinions (esp. yours, Kazu, as your film opinions always encourage a good bit of thinking). Maybe that will help me figure out what I felt was lacking in the film.

Please avoid the 3D presentation. When it works, it looks like a magical stage play, but when it's not, it really bumps you. Maybe it's cause my head is fat, but the glasses are uncomfortable, which is also a bother. There are some great wow-ee moments with the 3D, but they're not worth the times when it breaks. My girlfriend says she had a similar experience, so I don't think it's just me, though we were sitting way in the back row - maybe that had something to do with it.

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:54 am
by squirpy
I really liked this, plus it was fun because I went straight from the screening of the movie to the thing at Gallery Nucleus with a bunch of the artists!

I agree about the 3D though - I wish 3D would go away. It never adds anything to the film for me, at best I forget about it, at worst it makes me very aware that I'm watching a movie rather than being immersed in it.

I love seeing kid's movies with a creepy edge. I think that we don't always give kids enough credit for being able to handle it, but it seemed like the whole crowd of kids was into it! And it was a crowd - the 11:45 am showing was packed!

Also, how good was that burlesque scene? Oh man! Haha, loved it.

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:03 am
by io
I really liked it and agree with most of what the positive reviews above said.

The climax was a little long and didn't pay off for me but I was never bored by the movie. Most of the time I was just being amazed by the beauty of the storytelling, design, and animation. The 3D experience is only pushed in certain scenes and never took me out of the story.

Josh, I got to go to the "Coraline" panel today at Gallery Nucleus and the artists said that most everything you see, including the soon to be famous circus mice shot, was done practically. Each mouse was a separate puppet on its own rig. They only used the computer too take out the rigging and composite green screen shots, even the fog outside the house was animated by hand, it was cotton! Amazing.

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:50 am
by Josh Mauser
io wrote: Josh, I got to go to the "Coraline" panel today at Gallery Nucleus and the artists said that most everything you see, including the soon to be famous circus mice shot, was done practically. Each mouse was a separate puppet on its own rig. They only used the computer too take out the rigging and composite green screen shots, even the fog outside the house was animated by hand, it was cotton! Amazing.
are you serious!! see, that's what I'm talking about. :D

did they mention anything about the "fading to white" effect after each item was found? (I'm trying to be as vague as possible as to not spoil)?

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:59 pm
by dark77778
The mouse scene is why you should all have stayed till the end of the credits ^_^

Squirpy: The burlesque scene was one of the best things in the whole film. I was just staring at the screen and howling. It made me so happy that they were able to get that in there with all the random censorship that our society is subjected to these days.

Tony, the film itself is a little flat if you're not prepared for the sort of flow that the film is going to provide. There isn't a significant rising action or falling action, more of like a yo-yo effect. The story goes out there as far as it possibly can go along a linear string, then there's a moment of tension [given away in the trailer], and then the story ravels back into itself, and if you mind this sort of structure, then I can totally understand how the film can seem flat and I probably would've thought the same thing had I not been made aware of this fact and prepared myself for it.