Tuesday, March 24, 2009
regarding coraline
Alright, doves, here's my uninvited advice for the day: if you had any intentions of maybe seeing Coraline, then do it. Now. In the theater. In 3-D. (I'll wait.)

I know you, and so I know what you're probably thinking: That's nice Mrs. White, but I still think I'll just wait until it comes out on video. There's other things I want to see, and I don't particularly feel like wearing 3-D glasses during a movie, and it's not showing in the theater in town, and that's what Netflix is for, and cartoons are dumb, and I don't like weird things as much as you do, and la de da de da...

And to all that I'd repeat: See it now. In the theater. In 3-D. Otherwise, I'm not even sure you should bother with it at all.

Here's why: Absolutely stunning visual effects aside, Coraline is good film, however not great one. Admittedly, I have not yet read the graphic novel that the film was based on, yet I am comfortably certain that Neil Gaiman's story is better served in print than on the screen. On a strictly story level, Coraline suffered from the same affliction that graphic-novel-turned-film Persepolis suffered - the story couldn't help but feel noticeably condensed. Too much was made to happen in too little time, so some of the nuances has to be sacrificed for the good of the overall story. Viewers get the gist, but not necessarily the soul of the tale.

So, even if Gaiman's disturbing story about a lonely little girl who isn't careful what she wishes for is a compelling one, what makes Coraline the film so compelling isn't so much the story as it is the visuals. Without the 3-D element, Coraline would still be a beautiful, beautiful film, but with it it's transcendent. In the hands of a lesser director, I'm sure that the effects could have become a gimmick, but Henry Selick proves that he's a wizard with the taste and restraint to use this magic to immerse us into the story rather than fling it into our faces. The result is a film that looks as gorgeous as it does strange, and as realistic as it does other worldly.

You will not get this same textural effect sitting on your sofa in your living room, and you will most definitely be missing out. I'm not sure how filmmakers are planning on dealing with the home video aspect of this new 3-D push, however even if they somehow find a way to replicate it for home video it could only be, at best, a weak substitute. You need a dark room and a giant screen and the ability to view this technology as it was intended to be seen. I just don't see how the experience can be replicated, and I'm not even sure they should bother to try. If this this is the future of 3-D, then consider me a fan - a fan who concedes that the experience is worth the trip to the theater.

And this is exactly how one should view Coraline - in 3-D, with the silly glasses, how it was intended. It's a achingly stunning film, and is still showing in a theater just a few miles from my house. (Wink.)



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