Ever since "The Nightmare Before Christmas" came to theaters in 1993, stop motion has become one of the most common forms of animation in films right next to computer animation and traditional animation. Most of these kinds of movies I've really enjoyed and "Coraline" is yet another. The film is a glorious return to stop motion animation for director Henry Selick and has very creepy characters, some fantastic animation and memorable characters that I can easily consider it a modern Halloween classic. Here's my explanation of why this film works.
Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) moves with her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) from Michigan to the rundown Pink Palace Apartments (which is really a divided house) in Oregon. Because her parents focused on finishing their garden catalog and her neighbors being too strange to talk to, Coraline becomes very bored and decides to explore the house only to find a small door that is bricked up. That night she opens up the same door only find a corridor to the Other World, which is the same as her normal life with a catch. Everything seems nicer and better and the people in this world are known as the Others have buttons as eyes. Coraline becomes very attracted to the alternate world and starts to visit it commonly not realizing that she is going to fall in a dark and twisted trap.
The film is based on the novella written by Neil Gaiman who even admitted in an interview I found online that he actually got scared by the movie. That is the sign of a really good adaptation and "Coraline" is easily that. The film's story takes the novella and expands it very well by adding details that don't feel unnecessary and characters you can easily like. I also love how the film gradually goes from being very happy and glowing to very creepy and disturbing and not making it feel rushed. The animation is also by far, the best element of the film. Unlike other stop motion animated movies where the puppets were typically made by clay, the people at Laika decide to make the puppets faces using a 3D printer which is something I think has never been done before. Apart from it great because it's brand new, it looks great because the film has a different assortment of colors which establishes the mood perfectly. The characters have very identifiable personalities, yet the best thing about them is that they're not perfect. What I mean by perfect is not their always happy nice. Even Coraline isn't a perfect character as she does get jealous and egotistical at times. I love characters that are like this. The last thing that I really loved about the film was the film's musical score written by Bruno Coulais. The music had the right mood by being both very calming and very unpleasant when it is needed. As far as flaws with them are, I do find the parents, in the beginning, are a little unlikeable. I know that it's to set up the story with Coraline, but I think they could have been a little less grumpy.
"Coraline" is just fantastic. It's a film that has the right amount of creepiness that leads to a new Halloween classic with its great story, animation, and characters. I hope Henry Selick can continue making movies like this as this film is proof that he can make good movies without the help of Tim Burton.