Based on the children's book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a dark and haunting fairytale that continues director's Henry Selick journey from Nightmare before Christmas into the 3D realm.
The story is a simple one. A young girl moves into a big strange house. Ignored by her mother (voiced by Teri Hatcher) and father, Coraline is left to explorer the house on her own, which leads to her finding a secret doorway into a parallel dimension where families are attentive, kind and responsive to her needs.
Lured by the kindness, it doesn't take long for the real reason of entrapment to come out and the story, which is definitely on the darker side of a PG, slowly reveals that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
Taking you on that journey isn't about cheap jokes and normal family humour found in your average Disney movie, Coraline is as dark if not darker than Selick's more famous work A Nightmare Before Christmas. While the overall the story is weaker, it is peppered with great cameos from a stellar British cast.
The Americans of course get the lead roles; Coraline is played by Dakota Fanning, who does well to portray an annoying child (probably because she was one once), while Teri Hatcher turns in a good performance of the mother, clearly repeating her role from Desperate Housewives.
The British injection comes in the guise of Jennifer Sanders and Dawn French who reprise their comedy duo as a pair of mad retired actresses who live next door, while Ian McShane's Mr. Bobinsky, the retired circus performer who lives upstairs, captivates the screen for the brief moment he appears.
Get past the film and standard DVD extras offer a feature commentary from the director Henry Selick himself and the composer Bruno Coulais. But more importantly than the director's commentary, you get a second version of the film beyond the standard 2D offering: a 3D version.
While the cinema offered polarised stereoscopic glasses and a far superior experience, in the home, Universal have opted for the TrioScopic technology that requires you to wear green and magenta glasses with the lights turned down low. Before you panic thinking you don't own any TrioScopic glasses you get four paper ones in the DVD box.
Select the 3D version, don the glasses, turn the lights out and you'll get to experience the wonders of 3D in your home. Groovy.
The experience isn't like watching true 3D in the cinema, however if you can cope with wearing them for the 145 minute running time they will add to the overall movie experience.
The technology does take some time to get used to and we found that wearing green and magenta in front of your eyes does dull the bright and colourful scenes certainly compared to the 2D version. It also hurt. Whether it was the glare from the TV and no other lights or the constant re-adjustment our brain was making we were drained by the end of it.
Likewise, and you could argue that this is the point, wearing the glasses means watching the film is a singular concentrated event. You won't be able to multi-task, cuddle your partner or talk to anyone as taking away your stare from the screen means you've got to go through that initial 5 minute "get your eyes adjusted experience" once again.
That said the 3D elements of the film do give it a certain charm; those looking to be immersed just that little bit more will enjoy and appreciate it.
Coraline is an endearing film that will appeal to your fairytale sensibilities. It isn't as punchy or as musical as Selick's most famous work to date A Nightmare Before Christmas, however there are still some very memorable moments in the film.
It's a slow burner, and one that doesn't necessarily reward you at the end with anything other than what you expect. However combined with the 3D experience (probably only a one-time sitting) this will appeal to most on a Sunday afternoon.
Those looking for something more akin to Wall-e however should steer clear - this is more a modern day take on Alice in Wonderland compete with its adult subplots.
Staring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher
Directed by: Henry Selick, Pete Kozachik
Extras: 4 pairs of 3D glasses, theatrical feature, audio commentary, deleted scenes, The making of Coraline, 3D version