With this movie review, I’m going to try something new. I usually put spoiler alerts on all my reviews in the beginning because I enjoy recounting the plot of most movies since it helps with my ability to recollect a movie and helps me connect the movie to other movies and why I thought it was superb or lacking. It’s also really hard to get excited about something you’ve just seen if you feel a bit restrained when it comes to talking about it too. I tend to forget that I need to avoid blurting out spoilers when I’m excited. So I am going to start off with some quick points about the movie before I go into spoiler territory. This way those of you trying to avoid spoilers can read some basic points about my review without spoilers. So, let’s continue with the review.
Netflix is streaming the stop motion animation, Coraline, produced by Laika studios. Yep, you heard right. The same people behind the animation, Kubo and The Two Strings. (Be sure to check out Geeky Talk’s Kubo review if you haven’t seen it!) I’ve been hearing for a while Coraline is a quality animated film and I am finally able to confirm that opinion as well. I am glad I checked this movie off my watch list. It is definitely a satisfying watch! Go watch it on Netflix if you haven’t seen it.
Quick points of review:
- Superb job with the animation, especially scenes behind the door.
- Spooky plot with interesting characters. Sometimes similar to Alice in Wonderland.
- The voice actors did an excellent job with the characters.
- Themes are dark and heavy. It’s explored with an interesting storyline.
- Definitely, would recommend seeing this with your family while it’s on Netflix, but it might be too scary for some younger audiences.
*Spoiler Alert! If you are avoiding spoilers, do not read further. Turn back now. You’ve been warned.*
Coraline (Dakota Fanning) and her family just moved from Michigan to Oregon. She lives with her parents who are working on a gardening catalog and don’t have much time for her. Coraline’s father (John Hodgman) makes a less than impressive dinner while her mother is just too busy to talk to her. Coraline’s only friend in the new place seems to be a boy named Wyborne who she calls Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) after following a black cat. Some of the other weird neighbors don’t seem to impress Coraline very much.
One day Wybie brings Coraline a little doll with black button eyes that looks just like her. Then afterward she comes upon a small door in the new house where her family just moved into and has her mother (Teri Hatcher) unlock it only to find the doorway closed up with bricks. Later that night Coraline follows a jumping mouse to the doorway and finds the door is open and continues through it.
After crawling through the doorway, Coraline finds a world that looks very much like her usual world but with more color. Her mother and father look the same except they have weird black button eyes. These parents are Coraline’s Other Mother and Other Father and they do everything her parents in her real world do not do. Her Other Father is a great gardener who plays with her and talks to her. Her Other Mother cooks wonderful dinners and listens to her. After eating dinner with her parents from this parallel dimension, Coraline goes to her other bedroom but awakens to her old bedroom.
On one of her visits to the other world, Coraline is asked by the Other Mother to stay in the other world with her forever. Coraline must have her eyes removed and replaced with black buttons sewed on in their place in order to stay in the Other World. Coraline is terrified by this and begins to realize how creepy this is and excuses herself to her other bedroom.
Wybie’s black cat (Keith David) can talk in the Other World and does not have buttons on his eyes. He warns Coraline about the Other Mother. Coraline demands the Other Mother let her go and she turns into her true creepy form. She is a tall thin metal creature and her true attitude and sinister plans for Coraline become obvious. The Other Mother then imprisons Coraline in a dark room behind a mirror.
In the prison, Coraline meets the ghosts who have also been victims of the Other Mother. These ghosts have buttons for eyes. Coraline discovers from the ghost children the Other Mother sent dolls to spy on them so she could manipulate them into staying in the Other World. Coraline promises to the ghost children to find their eyes so their souls can be freed.
Coraline is rescued from behind the mirror by the Other Wybie and helps her escape the Other World. When Coraline returns to her normal world, she finds her parents are missing. Coraline sees a vision of her parents writing “help us” from behind the mirror and goes back to the Other World to save them.
After a tip from Wybie’s cat about the Other Mother liking games, Coraline offers to play a game with her. If Coraline doesn’t find the ghost children’s eyes and her parents, she will have buttons sewed in place of her eyes and stay with the Other Mother forever. The Other Mother agrees to the game and Coraline is rushed to find three eyes and her parents.
After hunting down the ghost children’s eyes in the Other World, Coraline tricks the Other Mother and smashes the snow globe where her parents are hidden. The Other World comes apart and Coraline escapes with her parents who have no recollection of their imprisonment.
Later Wybie helps Coraline destroy a metal hand while she is hiding the key to the door of the Other World. The next day the community in Coraline’s new home come together to eat and enjoy the garden.
Geeky Talk’s Reaction to the Movie
Coraline is a lovely movie with some really great stop-animation. The style is a little dark and eery but it is nice to look at. I love Coraline’s hair. The dark blue is almost black. I also enjoyed the contrast of the duller colors in Coraline’s real world compared to the brighter colors in the scenes and the characters in the Other World. Though the Other World represents a more ideal world for Coraline, it still exudes its true creepy nature with details such as the black button eyes or the fact the two elderly actors zip off their skin in their performance for Coraline. After Coraline reveals the sinister plots of the Other Mother, the Other World becomes even more interesting as the Other Mother’s real form is revealed. Coraline is a superb animation.
The voice actors did a great job with the characters. The mother and the Other Mother voices are well done. Teri Hatcher goes from normal sounding mother to idealized Other Mother to angry evil Other Mother with a natural smoothness as the plot reveals different aspects of this character. The evil Other Mother is very convincing and scary. Coraline voiced by Dakota Fanning and The Cat voiced by Keith David also do a good job portraying their characters.
The plot at first makes this fairytale seem sweet and innocent but then takes the audience on a whirl as it turns out the Other World is much darker than it’s exterior lets on. The plot is interesting and builds well as you get to know each of the characters in both worlds. Many scenes in the Other World are reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland such as moments with The Cat, dinner with Coraline’s Other Parents, and the whole fact Coraline has found an opening to a whole other weird world. The plot in Coraline keeps with the spooky and creative theme well.
The themes in Coraline are heavy and dark and fit well with the creepy plot and overall aesthetic of the film. The theme of wanting something more than reality offers in your life is explored with the idea that your idealized world may not be as picturesque or innocent as you expect. In order for Coraline to have her idealized world, she has to go through being imprisoned. The theme is well represented by the cute little button eye mice who turn into old dead rats with nothing but sand inside when The Cat catches them. The Other Mother thinks she loves Coraline and wants Coraline to be imprisoned forever with her. Other Mother’s abusive behavior is explored in the movie as well. These are dark and heavy themes to explore in an animation, but I think the film successfully portrays the topics. It’s scary but I like the fact the film ends in the real world with the flawed characters enjoying their time together.
Coraline is a great family film you can watch right now on Netflix. It is on the scary side so it might not be suitable for some younger children. I enjoyed this film a lot and I appreciate the interweaving of the animation style with the plot and themes. This isn’t a light watch, but it does end happily as Coraline seems to appreciate her actual world and the people around her just a bit more after her journey.
Have you seen Coraline? What did you think? Put your Geeky Talk in the comments below. Thank you for reading Geeky Talk’s review on Coraline. Happy geeky movie watching!