Welcome to my first Laika review – 2009’s Coraline, based on the book by Neil Gaiman. This film scared me half to death when I was younger. While it doesn’t seem as scary to me, watching it about 7 years later, I still think that the overall concept is pretty freaky even to this day.
The animated film follows an 11-year old girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) who is painfully bored with her neglectful parents. After moving into their new flat in Oregon, she discovers a small, locked door while exploring the flat. One night, she opens the door to discover a “portal” to a parallel world where everything is better…or is it? After three rounds of visiting her “Other Parents”(versions of her parents, but nicer and more fun), she discovers that the pair wishes to keep Coraline and sew buttons into her eyes, as they have done to themselves. She winds up challenging the Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) in order to get her real parents back.
I can say with certainty that this is almost nothing like its book counterpart. Aside from having the same premise, and the majority of the same characters, there are many differences and a lot are directly related to the main story. For instance, the character of Wybie Lovat isn’t in the novel. Also, the Other Mother looks almost identical to the real one in the film, while she looks nothing like her opposite in the book. I definitely enjoy the adaptation more than the book it’s based upon, but that’s not to say that the book isn’t good. In fact, it’s very good. I just think that the time and effort Laika puts into their films is outstanding, and this is one of their best examples.
Coraline is outstandingly vivid, and one of the best-animated films I’ve ever seen. I’ve always had a love for stop-motion animation. Even with only four films, Laika rivals Pixar, and that’s a huge compliment, considering Pixar is one of the biggest and well-known animation studios. The world in this film is phenomenal, and every piece shown on-screen feels almost…real. The alternate world’s garden, the mouse circus, Forcible & Spink’s theater…everythink is a great feat. A wonder for your eyes. Whether you’re looking for a good animated film or just a movie to settle down with, this is one you should surely keep in mind.
The character development in Coraline is also spot-on. Every character is given so much to do, and I think that you’ll be satisfied when you watch this one. I don’t want to go into detail about the more disturbing elements of the story, but I don’t necessarily recommend little ones watch it. It can get pretty freaky. Overall, Laika’s first film is an amazing animated film and I highly encourage you to check it out. I’m going to give Coraline an A.
Coraline stars Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, John Hodgman, Ian McShane, Keith David, Robert Bailey Jr., Caroline Crawford. Directed by Henry Selick.