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Coraline Jones and the Raiddders of the Lost Art - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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February 8th, 2009


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05:54 pm - Coraline Jones and the Raiddders of the Lost Art
(Title stolen and modified from toastandtea.)

When I read Coraline a few months ago, I was excited for the movie. Then early reviews were very good. Then regular reviews were also very good! So it seemed like I definitely had to see it. Especially in 3-D. Everyone raved about the 3-D.

OMG YOU GUYS YOU HAVE TO SEE CORALINE IN 3-D.

We seem to be living in a 3-D renaissance. Before the movie, we were treated to three 3-D trailers: Up!, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and Monsters vs. Aliens. Are all animated movies going to be in 3-D now? It's going to be irritating to have to pay two bucks more, but it could totally be worth it. This isn't the sort of thing that works as well at home.

I'd never seen a real 3-D movie before. My main experience with 3-D was all those silly movies at theme parks where things jump out of the screen all the time. But what I discovered is that the real power of 3-D is not having things come out of the screen but to have depth going into the screen. There are very few things coming out of the screen in Coraline; in fact, the biggest "Whooooooa" moment is the credits cookie. (Even the credits themselves are cooler in 3-D.) The reason people are calling Coraline the greatest 3-D movie ever made is the depth. Stop-motion animation is made from physical, three-dimensional objects, but they lose the third dimension when projected on the screen. Unless you're projecting in 3-D. So with your special glasses on, everything looks real. It honestly looks like you're watching a stage show. There are also moments of especially impressive depth like the tunnel into the Other World, which appears to stretch for yards into the screen.

Besides the 3-D effects, the movie of course looks great, if you're into Henry Selick's style (The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach). I liked Coraline's character design, especially the anime-heroine blue hair. And the way her mouth is always sort of smirking. Stop-motion is really something, though. I cannot believe people actually made all that and photographed it. There's no CG, really? It's so hard to believe when you watch it. I mean, that is the tastiest-looking puppet food I have ever seen. The landscapes are colorful and interesting, and the disintegration of the Other World is AWESOME. I always pictured the Other World as much more drab, though. I could have read it wrong. Because obviously, the Other World is supposed to be more ideal than the real world in order to appeal to Coraline in the first place.

The voice acting is surprisingly good as well. The voice actors are all practically unrecognizable. Except Keith David, because he's instantly recognizable. It took me a few minutes to hear Ian McShane under his Russian accent. And no one else sounds like themselves; they sound like the characters. The music is pretty good as well, utilizing a creepy children's choir, but I was disappointed that they didn't incorporate the singsong "We will be here when you rise and we will be here when you fall" rhymes.

I read the book all in one day in November, so the plot details weren't fresh in my mind, but the movie does generally hold to the plot of the book, with some minor tweaks of course. I feel like the subplot with the three ghost children got short shrift, but I liked the way they tied it into Wybie's grandmother's missing twin sister. The major tweak, of course, is the addition of Wybie, a neighbor boy for Coraline to talk to for expository purposes. And while he works fine in the context of the movie and doesn't even come close to ruining it, he is my least favorite part of the adaptation. Because for me, the whole appeal of Coraline the character and Coraline the story is that Coraline is alone. She's curious and danger-seeking and clever all by herself, and she doesn't need a boy to save her. Only a cat. Thankfully, Wybie isn't as constant a companion as I feared he might be, but he's still there occasionally, which is a little annoying (Coraline thinks he's annoying too, so we're good). Plus, Wybie's obviously there to appeal to little boys who won't see a movie about a girl, and that's dumb. Girls are cute, idiots.

If you wanted to see Coraline, you've probably already seen it or made plans to see it. If you haven't, I definitely recommend seeing it in 3-D. It's quite a unique moviegoing experience.
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Comments:


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From:kibarika
Date:February 9th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
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The cat is my favorite character in the book.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
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Well, he is pretty awesome.
From:sainfoin_fields
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
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I am undecided as to whether I want to see this. I think I do, although I was not very impressed by the book, but finding a movie theatre! Going places! I hope it's worth the work involved in existing.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
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I was not particularly impressed with the book (not that I thought it was bad, just not amazing), but I enjoyed it, so I expected to enjoy the movie, which I did. It's kind of MirrorMask-y in a way, though not as elaborate. But I'm only making that connection because of Gaiman; there are many stories about young girls exploring other worlds.

Find a movie theatre and go places! It is a good escape from the world.
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From:omoo
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
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Hey, this is not topic related because I haven't read or watched Coraline, YET.

Did you review the amazing adventures of Kavaliar and Clay?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
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From:toastandtea
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC)
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3 d's! I GET IT.

It honestly looks like you're watching a stage show. There are also moments of especially impressive depth like the tunnel into the Other World, which appears to stretch for yards into the screen.

That is so fucking awesome. And yeah, pretty much when i think of 3D, i think of something coming out of the screen at your face. It just sounds like a gimmick. That it's done so naturalistically and classily in this case is so cool.

but I was disappointed that they didn't incorporate the singsong "We will be here when you rise and we will be here when you fall" rhymes.

I KNOW. That is one of the most effectively creepy things from the book, the way it enhances the very old evilness of the Other World.

I think a major success of this adaptation also lies in the fact that it's a movie from a SHORT story rather than a huge freaking novel. It gave them a lot of leeway to stay true to so many details without having to cut much out or cram things in. It was paced really really well. One thing though that i had kind of hoped would be included was Coraline's memory of her dad saving her from the wasps, because it's such a good distillation of the kind of bravery the book is about, and it also really makes me love Coraline's dad.

Because for me, the whole appeal of Coraline the character and Coraline the story is that Coraline is alone. ... Plus, Wybie's obviously there to appeal to little boys who won't see a movie about a girl, and that's dumb.

I AGREE WITH THIS COMPLETELY. Coraline's solitude is such an important part of the whole thing, and Wybie's presence as a peer undermines that. Plus i don't see why any boy would not be entertained by this movie without him, because it's all scary and weird and Coraline is a badass, all of which i'd think boys would like. And hey maybe for once cool things don't have to cater to boys. :/
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC)
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3 d's! I GET IT.
Good!

That is so fucking awesome. And yeah, pretty much when i think of 3D, i think of something coming out of the screen at your face. It just sounds like a gimmick. That it's done so naturalistically and classily in this case is so cool.
Yeah, and if your whole "3-D" thing is stuff coming at the screen, it looks really stupid in 2-D. But if you're just adding depth, it looks like a regular movie in 2-D.

I KNOW. That is one of the most effectively creepy things from the book, the way it enhances the very old evilness of the Other World.
Have you heard the song from the Inspired by Neil Gaiman CD or whatever? "Coraline," by Rose Berlin featuring Curve? They use it in that, which is why I wanted to hear it.

I think a major success of this adaptation also lies in the fact that it's a movie from a SHORT story rather than a huge freaking novel. It gave them a lot of leeway to stay true to so many details without having to cut much out or cram things in. It was paced really really well.
Yeah, when I read the Wikipedia summary of the book, I was surprised by how closely the movie followed it. I think some of the shenanigans went on too long (the theatre show in the Other World comes to mind), but otherwise I'd agree about the pace.

I AGREE WITH THIS COMPLETELY. Coraline's solitude is such an important part of the whole thing, and Wybie's presence as a peer undermines that.
Right. She is still essentially by herself. It's not that he's really there all the time, thank God, but he doesn't need to be there at all. Because Coraline would be totally fine on her own. SHE IS IN THE BOOK, DUH.

Plus i don't see why any boy would not be entertained by this movie without him, because it's all scary and weird and Coraline is a badass, all of which i'd think boys would like. And hey maybe for once cool things don't have to cater to boys. :/
Maybe!
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From:chasethestars
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
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Coraline was my first real 3D movie as well, and I noticed the same thing that it's about the depth and not things popping out!

Plus, Wybie's obviously there to appeal to little boys who won't see a movie about a girl, and that's dumb. Girls are cute, idiots.
Hehe. Did you feel that way when you were a little boy though? I'm almost certain I would have found Coraline scary as a kid. I think one of my friends that I saw it with actually was scared.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
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Did you feel that way when you were a little boy though?
I think I was always drawn to girls in fiction. I read the BSC books, after all.
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From:punzerel
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
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I reallly want to see this. But those 3-D red/blue glasses always make my eyes hurt (possibly because of my actual glasses?) so I guess I'll settle for seeing it in regular 2-D.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
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This is not red/blue shit! These are just polarized, and they don't hurt your eyes at all. I have actual glasses too (as did nearly everyone I went with), and we had no issues. See it in 3-D!
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From:incidentist
Date:February 9th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
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EEEE I just saw this tonight and I could have watched it forever. SO good. I haven't read the book, and I don't really see how the book would work, since so much of the suspense and wonder comes from the visuals and the movement. Which is a good sign that it succeeded as a movie.

You're right about the voice acting too. Dakota Fanning was miles ahead of the ghost kids, acting-wise.

Erm, not that there's ghost kids or anything, dear comment-readers.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
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I don't really see how the book would work, since so much of the suspense and wonder comes from the visuals and the movement.
Well, Dan, the book relies on this little thing called imagination! And Gaiman being all Gaiman-y. You should read it, and you will see that it works. It works as a movie too. As I read it, I thought it would make a good movie.

And what the hell, Dakota Fanning? I guess you're famous for a reason?
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From:squaringkarma
Date:February 9th, 2009 06:15 am (UTC)
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Friends and I had planned to see this today on the Mall and Movie Weekend, but unfortunately, the guy wouldn't have us pay just the extra $2. We had movie passes, but apparently the specialness of the film meant we could not. I have hopes that when Emily and I go out again, we'll see it!
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From:ariiadne
Date:February 9th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
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The 3D made me incredibly ill, the nausea from which lingered on for several hours afterwards. :( :( :(

I think it didn't play well with my glasses.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 9th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
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Oh no! That's too bad. It played fine with all our glasseses. I wonder why it does that for certain people.
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From:ashfae
Date:February 9th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
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It doesn't open here until May AAAAUGH!!!!!
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From:raelee
Date:February 10th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC)
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Had to come back and comment since this post is what convinced me to go see this today.

The movie is definitely visually stunning and I'm glad I saw it in 3-D per your rec. However, I wasn't nearly as impressed with the story itself as everyone else seems to be. I think I was expecting it to be a little more unique (I haven't read the story so this may just be a case of being mislead by promos) and I didn't find it nearly as creepy as the commercials made it appear. Someone above mentioned thinking kids would find it scary but I don't know if I agree with that. Certain aspects of it were scary but no more than your typical Disney flick. It's just all more surreal than those. And the little boy in my theater wasn't at all scared... although he did tell his mother "that witch was evil. Very evil. The evilest."

And I can't agree about the voice actors being unrecognizable. Teri Hatcher's voice is very distinctive and I kept thinking about her on Desperate Housewives every time she spoke as the Other Mother. And I recognized John Hodgman as the father as well, though I'm willing to admit that's probably because I'm a bit overexposed to him. (Watch him on Stewart, read his blog, follow him on Twitter, and hear his voice on a podcast I listen to every week.)

Still the visual work is just breathtaking and reason alone to see this. Plus, Dakota Fanning is amazing as Coraline.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
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Had to come back and comment since this post is what convinced me to go see this today.
I love to hear that!

Certain aspects of it were scary but no more than your typical Disney flick. It's just all more surreal than those.
Yeah, I didn't think it was superscary either.

Plus, Dakota Fanning is amazing as Coraline.
She was really good! Good character work there. And I guess I'm not as familiar with Teri Hatcher's and John Hodgman's voices to hear them in my head! I still think their voices suited the characters, though.
From:sainfoin_fields
Date:February 10th, 2009 08:33 am (UTC)
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COW I SAW IT

3D IS AMAZING

WAY MORE ENJOYABLE THAN THE BOOK
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From:spectralbovine
Date:February 10th, 2009 08:38 am (UTC)
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WHAT A DIFFERENCE A D MAKES.
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From:harper47
Date:February 10th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
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I have read lots of good reviews for this movie so I will definitely put it on my watch at some point list.
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From:latropita
Date:March 14th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
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Plus, Wybie's obviously there to appeal to little boys who won't see a movie about a girl, and that's dumb. Girls are cute, idiots.
Hahahahaha. Aww. I didn't know Wybie wasn't in the book! That's interesting, I wouldn't have guessed that. I liked him, though, despite all the saving. I really really loved Coraline's fearless roaming around everywhere, especially when she yelled I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!! to the Other Mother . I also found Coraline's Michigan accent HILARIOUS - I didn't really notice it for a while, and then when she started talking to the cat in the Other World and maybe saying more words with hard a sounds it was SUPER STRONG and awesome.

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