Sunday, February 8, 2009

Coraline Sewn Up with Slightly Irregular Stitching

I just returned from seeing Coraline, the new stop motion animated movie based on the book by Neil Gaiman. I've already discussed Coraline here and again here, when I read it. Since I did enjoy the book, I had been awaiting the movie.

I did not leave disappointed.
Nor did I leave satisfied.

All in all, it's a well done film and does not disparage the essence of the book. It's visually remarkable, especially because we viewed it in 3D. Not that it is a technical marvel, for it's on par with other stop-motion movies. It neither advances nor lessens the effect. However, Gaiman's imagination always includes stunning elements,manifested here beautifully by an impressive artistic design. Truly a delight to see the Mouse Circus actually perform, let me tell you. Though it does not match my own perception of it, I very much admired and could agree with the visualization. (Except for the look of the Hand...I did not so much see it as mechanical and from the description, neither did Gaiman.) The 3D proved refreshing, as it did not inundate with gimmicky "look at THIS in 3-D!!" tricks. Sure, these do occur, but they are tasteful and sensible - such as a needle poking through from the other side of fabric at you. (Sewing is a big bit in the storyline.) These "coming at you!" moments are few and far between, allowing the 3D to become just another part of the design, enhancing without overpowering.

As you might recall from the other post, I went in with expectant reservations. I'd learned that they tweaked the story, at least as much as adding a friend for Coraline. But Gaiman approved and understood the alteration. So I had to adjust my critque based on this knowledge. He worked well enough, but not so well that I could see the justification for his being there. An interesting note on this: The new character is Wybie, short for Wybourn. I'm not sure why born, actually.

And here's a reason why his inclusion did not sit well with me. It seems in order to "justify" his existence, he helps at the "secodary" climax (trust me, there is such a thing in this story) which consequently changes the ending, although the result is the same. The problem I have is that this undermines Coraline's ingenuity as a character. This little girl must be very resourceful and slick, able to outwit the otherworldly villain. In the book, we watch her figure a way to entrap the baddie using elements and aspects which appear earlier in the book. (One of those scenes containing a bit of her strategy had also been removed from the movie, by the way.) I did not enjoy someone helping her in an action oriented way. I much prefer seeing the cleverness of Coraline's plan unfold in the novel. Why are we robbing her of her moment?

Other than that, though, they produced a very entertaining movie from a very fun book.

If youre're interested in knowing the change in the ending, the SPOILER info is below in a color that helps hide it. Highlight the text with your mouse to see it better.

In the book: Coraline hears the scuttling severed hand of the Other Mother roaming about her house, looking for the key. She finally sees it and decides to once again deceive her. She goes out to the well, which had been beyond the Other Mother's creational reach in the Other World and sets up a tea party over the well, so that it appears as a table. She must finagle it to balance, etc. There with her stuffed animals for the party, she places the key on the "table." The Hand leaps for it, the weight of which drags the tea set and such down the well along with it.

In the movie: She runs to the well, being chased by the Hand. She tries to throw it down it down the well, but she struggles with it, losing. Wybie comes charging in on his motorbike. He picks up a rock, throws it and smashes the hand. And together they throw it down the well.

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