Friday, February 27, 2009

Sweet Coraline

Sweet Coraline

Ohhh, sweet Caroline, good times never seem so good

I should set the record straight, I've liked Nightmare Before Christmas long before it was cool to like it. Not trying to sound like... ok, no - I am trying to sound like an elitist. back when it was released it wasn't released under the Disney banner. It was too "adult themed" for kids in Disney's taste. The same company that allows their duck to walk around without pants was a bit uppity so they released it under the Touchstone company logo. This also happened with Who Framed Roger Rabbit because it had a curvy redhead in it.

For years after the release you would see no mention of NBC from Disney. They didn't acknowledge it. It wasn't as bad as Song of the South, but it was still pretty much something they didn't want to claim. Like the retarded cousin you don't claim during the family outing. You wouldn't see any sort of merchandise for it. Over in Japan though, Jun planning had the licensing for the movie and marketed the shit out of it. I would have to import all my nightmare before Christmas crap from Japan.

The sort of shit you wont normally find at Hot Topic

Around 2000-2001, Disney got on the ball and started mass marketing anything they could with Jack Skellington's face on it. Hot Topics around the states were filled with crap of it. It would have been a good thing if it wasn't all shit and didn't saturate the market so that every kid, not even old enough to remember the release was wearing the pumpkin king's skull on their chest. It looked tacky.

So consider my surprise when I heard that Henry Selick was going to adapt a Neil Gaiman book to film. While I love Neil Gaiman and his leather Jacket wearing coolness in his finely crafted words and stories, color me not surprised when this book becomes the next big merchandising machine for the Hot Topic crowd. You might as well get Jhonnen Vasquez working with Tim Burton to bring about something that will get everyone eating up anything and everything they'd toss money at for.

Stop Motion is a lot of work

I was still excited to see the movie. Don't get me wrong, I loved the book and the idea of one of my favorite stop motion animators working on it was great all around. So what could I complain about? If I stopped liking anything that was embraced by the emo/goth/whatever is considered the "outside" of the time, I wouldn't have anything to like.

Here's a little video of the hard work put into this

Pretty impressive... and just flat out pretty all around.

Stop motion in general peaked my interest when I was very young. I did a couple of pieces with an old 8mm camera. I'm sure they're buried somewhere. So I understand the hard work it takes to get something like this to actually look not only good, but to run smoothly.

Big sets for little pieces

While I normally scoff at 3D gimmicks, I had heard that this one didn't pander with cheap 3D gimmicks like throwing things at the 4th wall for the sake of getting a cheap 3D popup scare. It's subtle. If anything, you're just seeing the difference in the depht of field between characters and objects. Some things pop out more than others and the only really obnoxious 3D 4th wall break effect seemed to be a flying triangle and a couple of vampire dogs going your way. I'd say it's well worth the extra amount they charge for a 3D viewing.

If you're still interested in seeing it in 3D, Arclight is still showing Coraline in 3D while other theaters moved on to the Jonas Brothers shit film. So don't believe the hype of those ads about it being your last weekend to watch it. I suppose it's only true if you live in some bumfuck backwoods town. In which case, you might as well move to somewhere better.

Why hey, it's a book.

Back to the film, while it did deviate a good amount from the book, I did realize that the changes made to the movie work in the context of the movie format. You can't have Coraline talking to a cat. You need to add another kid her age for exposition. Good job on that. So while the book was short and sweet, the movie was also well crafted and just as fun.

The film sort of reminded me of Jan Svankmajer's work. Particularly his ALICE film. Except far less creepy. What with the sawdust coming out of the creatures. It was practically taken straight out of ALICE for that matter. Again, that movie was really creepy. Really really creepy.

A girl with many faces

Most of all I really did like the character design. Coraline's facial expressions were amazing for being individually created. A single line of speech took many face changes to come across as actual dialogue. Her mouth always seemed to be slight off to the left side of her face. It really did add to the character. I don't care what goth kids are going to grab on to this, Coraline looked adorable.

My issue is how can you have a movie this innovative, this creatively designed and ripe with potential for a video game and yet you only have a video game out for Wii, DS and PS2... PS2? Seriously? Who the fuck even has a PS2 anymore? You can't come up with a PS3 game? You know, take advantage of this new generation of graphics and memory capcaity and create a game that is worthy to the film it is based on?

You have things like jumping mice circuses and this whole garden that's amazingly detailed and you can't bump it up a notch when making a game? It did take three years to make this film, don't you think that's enough time to market and program a game that's to the same caliber?

How about a little big planet style of lay out? Speaking of which.. was that sackboy in the trailers for Tim Burton's 9? But enough about Burton, lets not mix him up in here before everyone confuses this as a work of his as they did when they marketed James and the Giant Peach.

There was no Denny Elfman score. There wasn't the Burton swirllie designs. It was entirely Gaiman's and Henry's designs. So I'm really greatful for that. While I love Tim Burton, I think the Corpse bride had its issues and I'm glad that it didn't crawl into this, as much as others believe that all things attached to NBC are all Burton.

The movie had an amazing score. I loved the music in every aspect. It's unique and odd, but it fit the tone of the movie, and it really fit with Gaiman's usual style as well. They Might Be Giant's wrote The Other Father's song. That's simply awesome in every aspect possible. It doesn't hurt to hear They Might Be Giants on the soundtrack.

There it is... Though just cause I posted it doesn't mean you don't have to see the movie anymore. GO! WATCH IT!

This movie also had a lot of fan service for those who followed it through the making. As Laika Entertainment sent many bloggers little goodies treats in mystery boxes. It was a very interesting to see who was getting what. All of them had a little piece of the film and were hand crafted in very limited number sets. Some got animation doll parts, others got pieces from the set. In total there was 50 or so boxes shipped out and not all of them have been reported on. So who knows what's out there left to be uncovered.

As for the Jerk wad aspect. It's just a code. You have to go to the official site. Go into Coraline's bedroom and click her nightstand drawer. Enter the password and you can be signed up for a drawing to win Coraline Nike shoes. Not much, but it's something. The director also wanted it to be Coraline's nickname for wybie.

Go see it before you don't have a chance to experience this on the big screen.

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