By Clint Morris
Watch the sales of bongs go down now that â€˜â€™Coralineâ€™â€™â€™s on DVD. A cheaper, more successful way to take a trip â€“ the visually-stunning and exceedingly- imaginative family flick will undoubtedly eave you buzzed. Youâ€™ll see all sorts of wacky things over the filmâ€™s 140 minutes, and you wonâ€™t have to pay for it â€“ physically or mentally â€“ later.
Based on the popular graphic novel by Neil Gaiman (â€œStardustâ€) and brought to the screen by â€œNightmare Before Xmasâ€ alum Henry Selick, the weird but wonderful fantasy fixes on an 11-year-oldâ€™s adventures in an alternate reality. Itâ€™s a little scary for wee little ones, but teenagers (and adults) should be able to enjoy it without the aid of a neighbourâ€™s clammy hand to squeeze. Think â€œBeetlejuiceâ€â€¦ had it have been animated.
Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) and her unnamed parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) have just moved from Michigan to dark, cloudy, rainy Ashland, Oregon. The threesome takes up accommodation in a large pink-coloured Victorian, where the youngster desperately longs to find something to do. If her parents acknowledged her existence, and looked up from their computers from time-to-time, maybe Coraline wouldnâ€™t be so bored. But they donâ€™t â€“ Mr and Mrs Jones have seemingly forgotten about their daughter.
Things pick up when Coraline discovers hidden door in the house that opens onto a rabbit hole that leads down to a parallel world. There she meets alternate versions of her parents â€“ they have buttons for eyes, but theyâ€™re also much kinder and more giving than the real thing. Even Coralineâ€™s neighbours â€“ notably the furtive acrobat known as the Amazing Bobinsky ( Ian McShane of â€œDeadwoodâ€ fame) â€“ are more fun in this second world.
The more time she spends in the alternate world, the more her alternate parents start to pressure Coraline into the staying there permanently, ultimately asking her to trade in her eyes for buttons. By then though, the youngster starts to realize that this seemingly-perfect world isnâ€™tâ€¦. and decides she wants to return to reality.
With state-of-the-art stop-motion animation, eye-popping visual effects (even more impressive if you get a chance to see the film in 3-D â€“ and for once, the gimmick seems intrinsic to the story), an aptly chosen voice cast (Dakota Fanning seems to be having fun as Coraline, you can almost see her smiling, giggling and star-jumping in the recording booth!), and most of all, a captivating story for all ages, â€œCoralineâ€ could just be the best family flick of recent months. Yep, even more so than â€œHarry Potterâ€.
There’s two versions of the film – the 2D version and the 3D version. Whilst you do get the glasses, and the gimmick still works fine-enough on a small screen, the 3D version definitely worked better at theatres. Don’t get me wrong, the 3D version is still fun to watch on DVD – - but you’ve really got to have a large HDTV, great home-theater set-up and an upscaling DVD player to really appreciate it.
Among the large array of extras – deleted scenes, a making-of, a ‘voicing the characters’ featurette, and a digital copy of the film (I still don’t see the use in this feature – I mean, don’t most laptops and PC’s have DVDs in them these days, anyway?). The director and composer also provide commentary.
The Blu-Ray has a fair few more extras than the DVD, so if you’ve got the cash, and the player (yeah, that’d help), I might recommend you go down that road.