Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Coraline" Tows the Line

Hollywood moves rapidly.
What's a "go" one day is a "no" the next.

In this post, I spoke about finding the book Coraline unexpectedly and the movie of Neil Gaiman's work currently in production. Well, it seems that the movie is completely stop-motion animation. I seem to remember in the film's planning stages there had been talk of a combination with live action. If it so happens that I'm wrong, please forgive me as information about this movie gives a release date of 2007. It is now scheduled for February 2009. Quite the lag time.

I finished the book. Quite good. In my view, it did everything just about perfectly. It provided formidable challenges to overcome throughout the story and still had a satisfying climax. But nothing overly showy. A good mix of the character using wits and tension-buidling action. As with many "other world" stories, there is an hint of "did it really happen?" Gaiman skillfully navigates through this point and leads on with a curious extra adventure for Coraline. The nature of Coraline's plan soon becomes clear. Even though what happens next is obvious, Gaiman gives us some finely written, unexpected details.

Two other aspects of it please me, although they may seem a bit like opposing thoughts. First, I don't usually enjoy when a story dwells on a bizarre bit only to have it remain unused. I like the loose ends twisted up nicely. Coraline certainly delivers. However, I also like when a definitive answer remains unexplained. If the desire to have an answer outweighs the question itself, it's a problem. The mysteries of Coraline do not make this mistake. For example, without a spoiler, it's immediately apparent that the nature of entities Coraline meets can be called into question. Are they phantoms? Demons? Lost souls? Anti-matter clones? Witches? Don't worry, I don't know either. And that's the beauty of it. Having a for-sure answer is not as important as the palpable scares they provide by meering existing. I did not turn the last page wishing Gaiman had given me more. Knowing the true nature would not add anything to the story.
Perception vs. presentation.

I recommend this book.

It reminded of Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, another great book.

And to close with how I began, Thief has been in Hollywood production hell since before 2004. The following is an excerpt from the Official Clive Barker Resource website here.
...After the animated, live action and the ILM CGI versions all fell by the Hollywood wayside (see 'Films That Got Away...'), the project became stuck in limbo. However, new plans were made for Thief in 2004 - giving growing optimism that a great movie adaptation of this much-loved novel could finally be made.
And here we are in 2008 and still no movie. Sure, they take a long time to be made, especially one with heavy laden effects like Thief demands. Yet, the most recent update is April 2008 saying it is still in development. It, by the way, is currently live-action.

Naturally, I'm hoping Coraline the movie lives up to the book and is not a pale parody of itself like the "other house" Coraline discovers.

Coraline Sewn Up with Slightly Irregular Stitching

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