Coraline (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Coraline</strong> (2009)

(In theaters, February 2009) There are two big reasons why this film is worth seeing, but the most obvious one is the visual polish of the piece, which blends flawless stop-motion animation with computer-generated enhancements and, if you’re lucky or rich, can even be experienced in showy 3D. Yes, the 3D thing is a gimmick: There are a number of shots in the film that make little sense in 2D, although director Henry Selick is smart enough to avoid the old unsubtle poke-the-audience-in-the-eye shtick. 3D aside, though, Coraline is a gorgeous piece of visual imagination, with enough spectacular design to keep you coming back to the film even on a 2D screen. That, in large part, is due to the second big reason why you should see Coraline: The quality of Neil Gaiman’s oddball imagination, which (despite a few changes from the original novella) powers the unusual fantastic elements of the story. It’s familiar without quite being like anything else seen before, and this originality is what separates it from so many run-of-the-mill juvenile fantasies. It’s not an unimpeachable film (dig a bit, and plenty of vexing thematic problems arise), but it’s different, confident and competent. Too bad that the technology won’t allow 3D projection on small screen for a few years: Unlike many other examples of the genre so far, Coraline earns some extra credits with another dimension, even while it’s perfectly good in 2D. But don’t wait or fret: just see it.

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