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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Dakota Fanning
Ian McShane
Teri Hatcher.
Directors
Screenwriters
Neil Gaiman.
Running Time
100 minutes

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Coraline
Alice In Wonderland meets Edward Scissorhands


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Plot
Coraline (Fanning) moves to a new home, where she feels neglected by her stressed-out parents. When she finds a door leading to a happier mirror on her own world, with a loving ‘Other Mother’ (Hatcher), everything seems perfect — but there’s danger lurking..


Review
Coraline

Adults leaving screenings  of Coraline have been overheard fretting about how scary it is — and they’re right: it’s terrifying. Children leaving the cinemas, though, have just been bouncing and laughing. Strange, perhaps, but then, this is a strange film. As creepy as it is charming, as bizarre as it is beautiful, this is a true horror movie, but also a warm, brightly coloured children’s fairy tale about the magic behind the everyday.
 
And don’t forget, children are more resilient than we think. The Wizard Of Oz’s flying monkeys, the set-up of A Little Princess or the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are all terrifying at the right age, but it’s rare we remain traumatised by the encounter. Instead, the sight of a young protagonist defeating the forces ranged against him/her by an adult world is one that empowers, leaving kids not cowed but exhilarated.
 
Our heroine is certainly the sort of role model that any kid could wish for: Coraline — voiced with a Midwestern twang and a whole lot of attitude by Dakota Fanning — is smart, funny and ultimately very courageous. She’s also self-centred, sometimes grumpy and frequently awkward, but this is a well-developed character rather than a Disney princess. She gets irritated when her name is mispronounced, misses the friends she left when she moved home, and has a habit of swinging on a door and making conversation when her parents have no time to listen.
 
In her defence, her neighbours — Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane), the Russian eccentric upstairs and Misses Spink and Forcible (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, respectively), two dotty English retired actresses downstairs — do all get her name wrong, while baffling her with their eccentricities. And her parents, voiced by Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman, do leave her to her own devices as they try to rebuild their business in a new town. So who could blame her when she follows a jumping mouse through a hole in the wall, into another world with an ‘Other Mother’ (Hatcher) who is devoted to satisfying her every whim, an ‘Other Father’ who spends all his days dreaming up tunes to sing her praises, and neighbours who put on shows for her amusement?
 
There’s just one catch: they want to steal her eyes and replace them with buttons. It’s at this point that most of the adults in the cinema start wincing. Coraline, understandably hesitant to agree to such terms, balks, and another side to her Other Mother emerges.
 
It’s in the Other world that Henry Selick’s gorgeous stop-motion imagination is given full reign. The real world is as bleached of colour as possible, but the Other world is (initially at least) bathed in vibrancy, and there are scenes in the delicately realised gardens that will take your breath away. Hummingbirds call Coraline’s name and glowing snapdragons form a portrait of her that’s only visible from far above — say, aboard the Praying Mantis tractor that her father rides. Touches of CG have been used here and there for full ‘how did they do that?’ effect, but most of the real magic is in the stop-motion detail: the arch of an eyebrow perfectly expressing a character’s attitude, the shine on the icing of a cake making it look edible; the glint on a silver claw adding to its menace.
 
An extra breath of wonder is added if you manage to see this in 3-D: insects fly around your head and flowers bulge from the screen. While there’s relatively little 3-D-sploitation, in general the technique is used strictly to augment the story, and suffers few of the focus or blurring problems that have lessened the technique’s impact in other films.
 
And then there’s horror in the last act as the Other Mother’s disguise falls away and her true intentions are made clear. There are chase scenes, hiding scenes and puzzles to be solved as Coraline, never one to shirk a challenge, tries to save herself, her parents and the Other Mother’s previous victims. Swinging her blue bob, and with a determined glare in her expressive eyes, you’d be a fool to doubt that she’s up to it.


Verdict
Terrifying and beautiful, believable and fantastical, this is one of the best children’s films in years and Selick’s finest — better even than The Nightmare Before Christmas.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara


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THIS IS THE STANDARD FOR KIDS MOVIES

How many movies can deliver that good ol' spirit like E.T, or the Goonies? How many movies are funny, and visually but emoitionally beautful and breath takingly extroadinary in terms of atmosphere? How many movies can deliver absolute marvelous animation, and deliver a story line so simple yet universal? None, that's how. But Coraline has definately been there with great stories to tell afterwards, and has even gone further than that; It has created characters that are so iconically marvelous, b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by YouWillBeUnprepared at 00:20, 23 May 2012 | Report This Post


Incredibly SCARY!

when i saw this film in 3D for the first time not only did the button-eyed other people on the other side scare me but how that whole movie had played out. this film is incredible yet should not have been rated PG it seems that Tim Burton has reached into the minds of the adult community and have placed their darkest fears into this film. Brilliant, Terrifying and Excellent! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DragonWolf_98 at 10:58, 27 August 2011 | Report This Post


Truly Incredible

Coraline, setting out to be a kids movie (although adults will find much to enjoy here), is an original, disturbing, and, frankly, nightmarish fairy tale with its' heart in the right place at all times. Creepy, yes, but also remarkably human and comically funny. Creating a dark and intricately woven world through means of the magic of stop motion, Coraline stands alone as the most advanced and single best animated piece in a long time. Possibly all time. Voice work is well done, if occasionally ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 14:04, 13 April 2011 | Report This Post


Fantastic

Better than Burton's by-the-number's surrealism, this hits the likes of the anaemic Alice In Wonderland out of the park. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by frankjackdaw at 21:43, 05 February 2011 | Report This Post


Darkly Imaginative

A very macabre film full of creativity and wonder. Wonderful voice acting, beautiful design, well paced, and every minute was thouroughly enjoyable and hauntingly imaginative. One of my favourite animations. b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 09:40, 02 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Great Throwback Kids Movies

Dark,different and a little bit scary! Good film though,very original. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 20:47, 16 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Great Throwback Kids Movies

Very good film, enjoyed it a lot. Not as scary as I was expecting, kids should be fine with this ... More

Posted by musht at 20:07, 16 June 2010 | Report This Post


Great Throwback Kids Movies

We need more films like this. Pixar do so many of them (and I love them for it) but it'd be great to get more of them done in Stop-Motion. Great in 3D Time I got the DVD me thinks ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by monkeyhumour at 01:10, 13 June 2010 | Report This Post


Best animated film of the year. Looks stunning in Blu-Ray, very inventive and suprisingly scary. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by UTB at 08:37, 09 February 2010 | Report This Post


Coraline (2009) 4/5 Lemme tell you first this: The most terrifying animation flick I have ever seen. I'd never recommend this creepy,dark but great animated film to my kids. Very well-thought out plot, very creative story and so real! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by m_er at 07:15, 29 January 2010 | Report This Post


Burton Does it Better

Some of the visuals were stunning but I felt the film was too slow-going and didn't have enough pace. A bit of bizarreness is rarely a bad thing but, to me, it didn't match up to the likes of Tim Burton. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pezbury at 13:11, 11 January 2010 | Report This Post


A new classic--Coraline

Brilliant, well written, amazing looking. Excellent all the way through ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 21:41, 04 November 2009 | Report This Post


coraline

Much darker than i thought it would be but very funny. Well worth seeing but not as watchable as Henry Sellicks Nightmare Before Christmas but nightmare is brilliant. So if you saw and enjoyed Nightmare and James and the Giant Peach you will love this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Wizzard at 14:59, 27 October 2009 | Report This Post


the 3-d for the dvd is horrible

seriously, it was bareley even 3-d, only at particular points. don't waste money on th 3-d version and just get 2-d. they got 3-d right in cinemas, now get it fucking right with the fucking dvd. aside from that, brilliant film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by maxthom at 16:05, 23 October 2009 | Report This Post


Scary But The 3D Is Awesome.

Watched this last night with my sister, chosing the 3d verison on Blu-Ray. It's awesome to watch with the glasses, the visuals come right at you and the picture is stunning. But I thought it was a little too scary and grim for a kids film, Nightmare Before Christmas was creepy but this is under the skin terror especially when the other mother goes mental. It also seemed rushed to a point where the ending dosen't seem happy with the film itself and it's not laugh out loud funny like kids films no... More

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Posted by joanna likes films at 13:41, 19 October 2009 | Report This Post


Hugely Enjoyable!

Great film. Not much else needed to be said. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaunyboy27 at 15:28, 16 October 2009 | Report This Post


Absolutly, unbelievably brilliant. Best example of 3D film-making so far. ... More

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Posted by Tindum at 19:08, 22 July 2009 | Report This Post


One of the best animations of all time IMO, just beautiful and thoroughly entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by england_cmr at 18:52, 30 June 2009 | Report This Post


Coraline...

I loved this film...especially seeing it in 3D. The storyline, characters and sets were beautifully captured and it's great for both kids and adults...although some bits do get a bit scary hence some younger kids going out crying. However a beautiful piece of work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Chimene at 09:06, 26 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Boring and dull

L: adambatman82 Glad you enjoyed it TG, i saw it a while back in 2D, and thought that visually it was outstanding. I did feel like it slumped a bit towards the end, and its probably not something i will revisit anytime soon, but i did enjoy it on initial viewing. out of interest, did you see it in the theatre, or on DVD? n a theatre. Just over the Dutch/Belgium border (I live on the Dutch side, about 20 minutes from the border) there`s a big cineplex who shows it. Would love to be able ... More

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:59, 22 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Boring and dull

Glad you enjoyed it TG, i saw it a while back in 2D, and thought that visually it was outstanding. I did feel like it slumped a bit towards the end, and its probably not something i will revisit anytime soon, but i did enjoy it on initial viewing. out of interest, did you see it in the theatre, or on DVD? ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 23:52, 22 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Boring and dull

L: HIM lacked any kind of scale or danger. you and me maybe, yes. But remember that this still is a kid`s film and I don`t think it`s so unscarey for them ... More

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:34, 22 June 2009 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327597/]Coraline - 3Dn 1993 and 1996 Henry Selick suprised us and made us happy with The Nightmare Before Christmas and James And the Giant Peach, respectively. In the 13 years that have passed since the Giant Peach, Selick has made 2 films but those never made it into the cinema. Now he`s back with his newest classic: Coraline. Coraline is a young girl who moves with her parents to a quiet town where she doesn`t know anyone. During a discovery tour of her new hou... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:32, 22 June 2009 | Report This Post


I thought it was very creepy and compelling but can be too much for young kids.

It's got a very Dahl-esque feal - whimsy and wonder mixed with threat and fear. The voice acting is spirited and top notch, the story, while not a 100% original (very much shades of Alice) but is an original take on this unoriginal concept. Intriguing, creative and unnerving, and the stop motion and score are very well done. Wasn't bored at all and the film's only 1hr 34 mins long. Imagine stepping into a child's perfect fantasy world but all is not it seems. Harks back to creepier films f... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sunnygirly2k4 at 03:14, 16 June 2009 | Report This Post


Boring and dull

Watched this last night in 3-D and I was bored to tears. The plot was dull and uninteresting and the characters were bland. The ending was dissapointing as well. By the time the story got moving it was all over. How easy was it for Coraline to find the ghost kids eyes? The film lacked any kind of scale or danger. The Other Mother villian was poor and you never believed Coraline was in any real danger. Dull, dull, dull. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HIM at 10:33, 07 June 2009 | Report This Post


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