Coraline is a children’s fantasy novel written by Neil Gaiman which follows a young girl’s adventures upon discovering an alternate version of her world, in which everything is reversed or warped somehow. What starts as a fun and exciting jaunt soon turns sinister, however, when the intentions of Coraline’s ‘Other Mother’ become clear.
The visuals are made using 3D stop motion animation, and to great effect; this really is a stunning film. Coupled with the great soundtrack and charismatic voice performances, the eerie, whimsical feel of the book is translated incredibly well to the big screen.
There are several additions to the film (since the book itself is fairly short) and most of them are perfectly in-keeping with the tone of the source material and serve merely to enhance the immersion of the story. My one gripe however is the role of newly added character, Wybie. As a character, I actually liked him, and the dynamic between him and Coraline was fun. I even understood the decision to introduce a companion for Coraline, as though we have the luxury of getting inside a character’s head in a novel, a solo-lead film would have involved a lot of Coraline walking around talking to herself or in complete silence, which may not have worked. My issue however is that Wybie ultimately saves Coraline in the film’s climax. Throughout the book (and most of the film), she is plucky, resourceful, independent and pro-active enough to save herself even when she is scared, so this stealing of the limelight and reversion to the trope of boys-saving-girls irked me and felt unnecessary.
It’s a small complaint, but a complaint nonetheless. Aside from this one blip however, Coraline remains a fantastic and highly likable character, and I thought the film was a thoroughly enjoyable adaptation that really captured the style and feel of Gaiman’s vivid imagination.