I saw Coraline this weekend (in 3D) and had an excellent time. I’ve said it before, but I love going to the movie theater. Sitting in the dark with my popcorn and getting into a movie is a great experience. The Dark Knight was probably the last film I saw that I really was on the edge of my seat for, and it was definitely worth it.
Coraline is also worth it, especially in 3d. Selick’s company Laika does amazing stop-motion. This is a form that has fallen by the wayside, which is far too disappointing to be true and I’m glad we’ve still had the occasional puppets crop up (such as Corpse Bride a few years ago). The visuals are bright and vibrant, unless they are creepy and dark. The 3d has an occasional “in your face” moment, but mostly serves to deepen the frame. Instead of poking you, it steps back so you look farther into the screen. It adds a dimension making things akin to a movie theater.
There’s much talk about the differences between the book and that’s generally what happens. Things are different in the movie, of course. There’s an extra character and the message is a little more pronounced. That’s okay with me. Books for young folk are generally written in a way so that a person can keep reading it as they grow older and learn new things from it. Movies (despite the advent of home video and DVD) are meant to be a one-time experience. They are an extension of live entertainment, despite losing some of the spontaneity. So the director needs that message to get across, especially with a kids’ movie.
Adults don’t just have “adult” movies. They have science fiction, and action, and romance, and comedy. Kids have “kids’ movies.” There may be genres within, but for the most part an animated movie is seen as an animated movie. There’s not sub-genre. With genres, directors can be more picky about messages and themes because an adult will sometimes see a movie more than once in a theater and give it repeat viewings. Kids will pay attention to whatever kids movie they go see because their parent generally picks it.
And many parents only take their kids a few times in a few months. So kids’ movies have to get the message clear. Coraline does it quite well without being preachy and syrupy.
Another thought is that with a book, a parent can read with the child and after a chapter they can discuss what is going on. This gives the child a chance to process what has been read and the parent can help them along with that. With a movie, you can’t discuss it until its over. So you’ve got to deliver that theme so they remember it. They can’t go back and re-read what they missed.
There are some folks who really didn’t enjoy the changes and others who didn’t really mind. I think the most important people are the kids. I think the Coraline in the book and the Coraline in the movie are certainly different people. The book Coraline is a bit quieter and more thoughtful, more mature than most ten year olds. Coraline of the movie is far more similar to kids I have met. She can be obnoxious and she’s feisty. And she’s still brave, even when circumstances are pretty darn scary. They share this trait, and its a very important trait to have.
I enjoyed this movie. It’s been a long time since I first saw the trailer for it – way back when I saw Beowulf (don’t get me started!). And I’m happy that it doesn’t disappoint. Highly recommend for anyone of any age.