Koumpounophobia – the fear of buttons on clothing. Plastic buttons, metal buttons, buttons on coats,…buttons in doll eyes?
This past week I hopped in the car with my movie adventuring mom and caught Coraline on opening night. I went in with the high expectations of one who has worshiped Gaiman’s work since reading Sandman in my younger days and came out as amazed and satisfied as I had hoped to be. Admittedly, I have not read the original novel, but this movie has sparked my interest and it’s yet another book on my monstrous pile of ‘to read’.
Synopsis: Coraline is a disgruntled preteen who has just moved in to the Pink Palace Apartments with her parents, who are far too busy to make time for her. While exploring the house, Coraline discovers a locked door which has been oddly sealed by the wallpaper. Beyond this door lies a world which she never could have imagined…a world where she is happy.
…or is it?
Review: What I find most impressive about this movie is its unwillingness to devolve into yet another sickly sweet animated film that preaches to children that everything is without challenge and consequence in life. By putting the main character in real danger, she is more apt to learn a lesson and to prove herself than if she is completely in a zone of comfort where there is always someone to protect her. After all, this sense of grappling with morality and the darker side of life is what made Grimms’ and Anderson’s fairy tales so provocative. Children learned to fear the darkness, but they also learned that there are those who have challenged it and survived. Some may tell you this is not a movie for kids, but I would disagree. It’s the perfect movie for children over 12 who are already beginning to wonder about that scary world of the unknown.
After all, when I was 12, my friends and I were already sitting around telling one another ghost stories and challenging one another to go into the bathroom, turn the lights off, and spin 8 times chanting the name of Bloody Mary.
Then again, perhaps I was just a morbid child?
This movie particularly reminded me of a story we used to tell about how you can see ghosts by holding up a ring and peering through it. I was always too afraid to try and could only look through the ring for a couple of seconds before wussing out.
As far as the movie itself, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was not stop-motion or claymation, but rather full on CGI (EDIT: Actually it IS stop motion animation apparently. Glad to see this form returning! I saw some 3D models online and thought they were computer animated. That makes this even MORE impressive in my book). It takes real talent to make a computer animated film look as if it was done by a traditional method and every bit of it, from the delapidated gardens to all of the personal touches in Coraline’s room made the film have a distinct and well planned atmosphere.
The voice acting was superb and the soundtrack suiting with its softer moments of piano and the children’s choir which gave it an appropriately creepy main theme throughout.
Overall: I give this movie a 4 out of 5. Enjoyable to more than just children. Definitely recommended for fans of Gaiman’s work or those with a sense of macabre.
For those who fear buttons? I am afraid you are out of luck with this one!