Movie goers are used to having a movie season get off to a bad start. January is filled with bottom of the barrel movies that still make money, despite being liked by no one. This January, poorly reviewed comedies, action thrillers, and endless terrible horror movies are clogging the big screen, along with leftover 2008 Oscar contenders. This makes Coraline a bit more noteworthy, as the stop-motion animated film may just be the first movie with solid reviews in 2009.
Opening today, Coraline is based on a book from famed cult writer Neil Gaiman. Henry Selick, the stop-motion director of The Nightmare before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, oversees this animated tale, which uses both stop-motion and 3D.
Dakota Fanning voices Coraline, a young girl fed up with her boring, neglected life and her constantly busy parents, voiced by Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman. This makes Coraline even more thrilled to find a door to a parallel universe, where everything is magical and her “other” mother and father are much more fun.
But with that fun comes a terrible price, and some unsettling secrets about this other world that Coraline now has to escape.
Released by Focus Features, Coraline is the first animated movie to be shot with 3D technology, beating out Monsters vs. Aliens by about two months. But with Selick’s imagery and Gaiman’s original text, Coraline is meant to be a bit more eerie and creepy than the average animated film. This harkens more to the style of a Grimm fairy tale, or the creepy elements of the old Disney movie classics.
This approach seems to have paid off for Coraline, at least with critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives Coraline a fresh rating of 88% positive reviews, rating a 7.5 out of 10. With 67 positive reviews and nine negative, Coraline is described as “a film that is both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining.”
These reviews for Coraline are probably the nicest ones for any movie released thus far in 2009, although the competition isn’t much. They are certainly better than the write-ups for this week’s movies, like He’s Just Not That Into You, The Pink Panther 2, and another Dakota Fanning movie, the action film Push.
Since Coraline has to deal with bigger films like Pink Panther 2, has a smaller distributor, and is more off beat and possibly scary than younger viewers are used to, box office totals may be small.
But for both kids and adults who want something different to see in this rough period for movies, Coraline may be their kind of alternative.
Rotten Tomatoes- “Coraline” www.rottentomatoes.com/m/coraline/