I apologize for the hastily written review for Coraline. Here are some better ones:
- From FPS magazine's newest contributor, A. Murphy-Hiscock. This is a great review, very thorough, well-written, a good read about a great movie.
- From our pal Dominic Von Riedemann at suite101.com, not a review, but an interview with author Neil Gaiman. Nice one.
I've started a Facebook event to try to get people out to this movie. This movie isn't Canadian, but it's worth supporting. I've been gushing about it, but this is the kind of film that deserves our support. Go see it, bring your friends. Opening weekend box office is, sadly, oh so critical to a film these days. It generates word of mouth, it gets the distibutor behind further marketing, which really gives a movie a shot. Laika isn't a service studio, how this film performs will determine whether or not they get to make more. So many shitty movies are getting made these days, why not put your dollars behind a good one?
Several reviews of Coraline preview screenings have been popping up online so normally I wouldn’t have much to add, but I had the good fortune to attend a very special Monday night advance viewing in Toronto with Neil Gaiman himself in attendance for a short Q&A.
Firstly, the film itself is excellent. Gaiman and Selick do an outstanding job walking the tightrope between their own mad worlds and a broader accessibility without giving in to the temptation to appease everyone. As an animator I was often awe struck by the believability and subtlety of Coraline’s motion and emotion.
As an outsider Gaiman was obviously really jazzed at the opportunity to observe the stop motion process and so he was able to pass on a surprising amount during the Q&A. It turns out the stereoscopic 3D effect was done not with a dual camera rig but with a single camera on a mechanism that would swing the camera from left to right taking two successive shots, one for each view angle.
Selick tried to use the stereoscopic effect to separate Coraline’s two realities with varying degrees of success. All the “real world” sets were built foreshortened (ie: a room that appears 25’ long is actually only 5’) while the fantasy world sets were overcranked so that it would feel deeper, richer and more real than reality.
Gaiman sternly warned us that the window of opportunity to see Coraline in full 3D will be a short one. The Jonas Bros. 3D concert film will be opening 3 weeks after Coraline and it will be snapping up all the theatres that are capable of 3D projection. My sorrow at that news knows no bounds. Seize the opportunity while you can and make a Jonas cry.
There were a lot of questions about the ways in which the movie script diverted from the book and the lack of Dave McKean’s artistic influence on the design of the film. Neil pointed out that in fact he took the first draft of the story to Selick long before he involved McKean in the version that was eventually published. So in many ways the Gaiman/Selick vision of Coraline is the original one, it just took 9 years to bring it to audiences.
Lastly if you see this film and I recommend you do, stay to the end of the credits for 2 reasons. The last text you see says, “For those in the know: JerkWad” which will be the secret online code for the Coraline web site. It will let you buy a pair of limited edition Coraline sneakers decorated with buttons. Only 1000 will be made. But of more interest to me the last thing you see is an animated sequence before the blue screen and support rigs were removed so you can get a real sense of what it takes to make a single beautiful shot.