movie film review | chris tookey


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  Coraline Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
7.33 /10
Voices:, Coraline Jones - Dakota Fanning
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Directed by: Henry Selick
Written by: Henry Selick , based on the book by Neil Gaiman

Released: 2009
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 100

Cold, sinister art-house movie, and is it really for children?
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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This fantastical, stop-action animation is about an unpleasant little girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who is ignored by her writer parents but finds a strange little door in their new apartment, which leads through a tunnel to a parallel universe where much more appealing versions of mum and dad are attentive to her every need but canít wait to gouge out her eyes and replace them with buttons exactly like their own.

Made by Henry Selick in a spindly style reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas, the look of the film has wowed most critics, but I have profound reservations.

I donít mind it being dark and creepy. Nor will children. Many of Grimmís and Hans Christian Andersenís tales have those qualities. But, like other movies made from Neil Gaimanís novels Ė especially MirrorMask (2005) Ė it strives to be a latter-day Alice In Wonderland without having Lewis Carrollís playfulness or wit. It lacks narrative drive, psychological depth and Ė most of all Ė warmth.

This is a ďfamilyĒ movie that offers an extremely dark view of human nature without offering much to relieve it. Our heroineís choice is between parents who ignore her and doppelgangers who wish her harm. Itís enough to give any sensitive child nightmares.

Structurally, too, itís flawed. Director-screenwriter Selick falls so in love with his own visuals that the first eighty minutes pass far too slowly. Then, when the story does gather pace and the child embarks on a desperate quest, the story operates under a set of rules that are unintelligible.

The result is a picture which may impress arty adults but will leave many discerning children, and responsible parents, cold. Itís an imaginative but nasty piece of work.

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