I went to the movies yesterday to see Coraline in 3-D. Overall, I quite enjoyed it. I don't expect it to become a classic on a par with The Nightmare Before Christmas or James and the Giant Peach, but it was very charming. The story, about a girl who discovers a doorway to a creepy yet enticing mirror world, presented an intriguing idea, but it didn't really follow through and instead finished in rather generic fashion. The stop-motion characters were delightful, though the movie had its share of CG effects as well, and, to be honest, I couldn't guess to what extent the character animation was CG-assisted. Makes me wonder how much longer this art form can endure.
The 3-D was disappointing. The last picture I saw in 3-D was Beowulf on IMAX. I thought it was pretty amazing, and that experience was what encouraged me to view Coraline in 3-D. Beowulf's 3-D may have been gimmicky at times, but, on reflection, I don't think the technology can be subtly effective. I'm never going to stop noticing the color-dimming lenses, the eye-straining blurriness, or the freaking pair of glasses on my face, so the reward had better be spectacular. In Coraline, I barely noticed it most of the time, and the few moments where it worked weren't worth the headache. If Beowulf came back to theaters, I'd probably see it again, but I think 3-D has a long way to go still before we start casually asking for it for everything.
The best part for me was the Other Father's song about Coraline, written by They Might Be Giants. I read that they actually wrote a bunch of songs for the movie, but they weren't used because the tone of the movie got darker after those songs were originally commissioned, and they just didn't fit anymore. Hopefully, they'll be released in some other format.
I don't mind if the mechanics of stop-motion become obsolete, because I think the look can be reproduced with CG. My problem with Coraline was that after the first 15 minutes, it stopped looking like stop-motion. I don't know what was true stop-motion and what was CG, but I did feel that the look was inconsistent, to the film's detriment.
James and the Giant Peach remains the masterpiece of Henry Selick's oeuvre.
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