The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Caroline, No

Saw Coraline today. Thoughts.

Generally, it was very good. It’s visually extremely inventive and shows Neil Gaiman’s enviable imagination in full flight. It’s Alice Through The Looking Glass as written by Roald Dahl on one his dark days. There’s even a Sponge and Spiker.

But... quibble alert. The plot, on at least two occasions, comes to a complete halt. As the story alternates between real-world and dream, any time spent in the real-world is going to feel like an unwanted interruption.

The animation is fantastic, but – as I did with The Nightmare Before Christmas – I never really felt involved in the storyline. Maybe part of the problem is that the real-world looks almost as macabre as the dream-world; there isn’t a great deal of contrast between mundane reality and extraordinary fantasy.

Following on from this, because it’s all so tonally (and literally) dark, it does sometimes get all a bit too much. It would’ve been nice to have been given something to laugh at or feel happy about. There’s no humour or lightness of touch – even the attempts at slapstick feel leaden – when, for the scenes where Coraline is enchanted by mouse orchestras and acrobatic divas, it could’ve done with being more Nick Park and less Tim Burton. To be honest, during the ‘comic opera’, I was mentally pressing ‘fast-foward’.

The 3-D effect was okay, and not used gratuitously, but I’m still not convinced by it; it has the quality of those old Viewmaster slides of making everything look like flat cut-outs placed at different distances from the viewer.

And finally – the kids in the audience were extremely well-behaved. Parents, however, who bring their kids into a 3-D film twenty minutes after it’s started, and don’t even bother to give them the 3-D specs... ooh, it makes me cross.


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