Firstly, the slightly overdue Coraline mutterings and related ramblings...
So. We saw it in 3D at Cineworld and, as promised, the 3D aspect did not overwhelm the film. It embellished it quite nicely. I've said before that - aside from live action - stop-motion animation is the perfect vehicle for 3D filming, more so than standard cel animation. CGI animation would come a close second (the trailer for Ice Age 3 looked good), but there's something incredibly touchable about stop-motion. Next stop, Wallace and Gromit!
Anyway, the film itself was really good. As anticipated. I am generally a sucker for stop-motion at the best of times, because there's something inherently fascinating about it. There's also this sense of the films themselves being lovingly crafted, which I suppose comes from the amount of effort involved, from constructing the puppets, to moving them, millimetre by millimetre, to create the film. The technology has come on so much since those early days of Nightmare Before Christmas, and I'd like to think that Coraline will be the NBC for the new generation.
Regarding book-to-film transition, it was certainly an interesting interpretation. I wasn't entirely sure what to make of the new character of Wybie, as I thought the entire point of the book was that Coraline was the only child in the story (if we exclude the ghosts), surrounded by adults. Giving her a human friend was a bit bizarre in that context, and I didn't really think he added very much to the story. In fact, the whole thing about one of the ghost children being his grandmother's sister was a bit strange in general.
Also wasn't keen Coraline having to find the children's eyes, rather than their souls. Not quite sure why that was changed, especially as the ghosts clearly did have eyes, and it would have made infinitely more sense for them to even be ghosts if they didn't have souls. Hm.
I liked the dolls-as-spies bit a little more, though, as it made somewhat more sense of the Beldam's intentions, and provided a good excuse to make the hand(s) as spindly as possible using needles. (Talking of which, the opening sequence was brilliant.)
Overall, I found the book a lot darker. I was especially looking forward to the part where Coraline is searching for the souls (or eyes) and everything is falling apart - like finding her Other Father in the cellar, or the strange globulous mass surrounding Misses Forcible and Spink (which turned into a giant paper sweet-wrapper). Still, the rats-as-Mr-Bobinsky were quite creepy, as were the Scottish Terrier!bats. Other Wybie's mouth being sewn into a smile - and the last time we see him before then with the Beldam's silent warning - was nicely ominous, too.
Of course, approaching this as an adult makes the difference. I imagine if I'd seen this at the target age (it's a PG), I would have found it scary. I mean, I saw Edward Scissorhands when I was 8 and it terrifed me, so for that reason alone I reckon the needle-hand would have been frightening enough. I've read somewhere that Coraline is one of those children's stories which adults really enjoy, though on a different level. Children like it because everything turns out fine in the end (and of course there is that Wizard of Oz-like moral), but adults find it vaguely disturbing. Which I think is for the reason that just because Coraline is safe (for now), it doesn't mean the rest of us are. So the Beldam only has one hand? Like that's going to stop her; she'll probably regrow another one. The extent of her powers is described as being limited in terms of what she can create for other people, but we don't know how far she can go for her own self...
I think Gaiman is a lot like Burton - who obviously wasn't involved in this film, but that's not the point - in that they both really understand what children like. Children like fantasy, action and adventure, but they also like pulling the legs off spiders. For all the little girls who want to be Cinderella, there are probably just as many who want to be Wednesday Addams. (I personally went through the transition of wanting to be Lydia from Beetlejuice, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Wednesday Addams, at the ages of 7, 8 and 10 respectively...) Equally, for every boy who wants to be Jack Sparrow, there are an equal amount striving to be Davy Jones. ;)
My one continuing gripe with Disney - made all the more obvious when I saw the musical of Beauty and the Beast - is that they are more than willing to approach these inherently dark stories, yet shy away from ever acknowledging that darkness. Snow White was never shown in full for many years because the transformation of the Evil Queen into the old hag was considered too scary, as the scene contained her kicking a skeleton in a cell. I felt when I saw BatB, which I think is because musicals themselves always have this underlying darkness, that the darker elements of the plot were not developed to their full potential. Don't get me wrong; it's one of my favourite stories. I just dislike the Disney focus on everything being light and fluffy. I was quite surprised the last Pirates film ended up quite so dark as it was (despite the Plotdump of Doom).
Hence why I thought Coraline perhaps didn't deliver on the darker elements on the plot as well as I was expecting. Producers of children's films always feel they need to hold back in order to get the correct rating to reach their target audience. In which case, it's the fault of the film committee rather than the production team, I suppose. But yeah. More darkness in kids' films, please!
Other things I liked: the transformation of the Other Mother, in particular her hand. Whilst the majority of changes weren't that subtle, I did notice that in the second close-up of her fingers the nails were a little longer than before. Nicely done. I'm assuming Teri Hatcher did her voice (as in, I spotted her name in the opening credits but forgot to check at the end) and thought it was quite clever how the Beldam actually looked like her at one point. ;) Also found it interesting that Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French seemed to be voicing characters who looked their opposite. (Oh, those gigantic bosums were a little terrifying...)
I liked the button eclipsing the moon. Probably not a Button Moon reference (don't know if that reached the US) but I enjoy the thought that it might be. Coraline's garden was interestingly done as well. I thought the interpretation of the Beldam was very interesting, from the needle hands to the insectoid furniture, and she herself having a 'web'. Alas, the needle-hand didn't terrify me as much as the drawing in the book did when I turned the page... ;)
Overall, though, very enjoyable, and well worth viewing in 3D if you get the chance to do so. I want some adult-aimed 3D films please. Stop wasting this new technology on children who couldn't care less. And not just horror films, proper films. Although, I am VERY much looking forward to Burton's Alice in Wonderland for that reason - that and Johnny Depp. JOHNNY DEPP. IN THREE-DIMENSIONS. There is nothing not brilliant about those two things combined. :D
Sorry, that went on a bit.
This next one will be shorter: Paul finally convinced me to watch Rebel Without A Cause last night (I did want to see it, was just never in the mood) and I quite enjoyed it. For those who don't know - and perhaps Eni might be interested in this - the scenes at the abandoned house are actually the same one from Sunset Boulevard - the exteriors, at least. Not quite sure about the interiors, as it looked to me as though the entire layout was reversed. Still, it was quite exciting to see it in colour. :D
It also inspired a sentence, of sorts. A throwaway comment from Joe, either in his voice or just in his narrative style, about how one day that house might be abandoned and kids would use it as a castle... because SB is all about the inter-referential fun.
Fiiiinally, my bizarre dream. Not enough to properly warrant filtering it, so it's public.
I can't remember the beginning, just this section from the middle. There was also another separate bit on the end which I can't quite remember properly...
I was in someone's living room. It looked a bit like my grandmother's living room at the old house. In the middle of the floor there was a giant cage / enclosure, probably about 4x6 feet and 5 feet high. Inside there were various animals.
At first there were hamsters, which were orange and white. I remember asking if they were actually guinea pigs, though I have no clue why I would think that. There were also a couple of cats in there as well. This part was quite normal, aside from the gigantic cage being in the living room.
Then it turned out the cats (or one of them, at least) had given birth to a litter. I can remember quite vividly holding a black kitten which had just appeared. Except they didn't start out as kittens, they started out as these fuzzy little... spidery things. The best description I can think of is that they were like pipe-cleaner animals, except that's crediting them with more attractiveness than they really had. I guess they were like... kitten tadpoles? I have no frelling clue.
Perhaps the worst part was that they kept dying - which is probably why I'm making the tadpoles assumption - and at one point one of them had crawled inside my sleeve and subsequently curled up and died in there. I remember shaking it out and then freaking the hell out because it was all crinkled and dried up (like when you find dead spiders under your furniture). Even now I'm having to suppress a shudder at that; it was horrible.
There were absolutely loads of the little spidery things in the cage towards the end. Really freakish.
This morning I could remember the separate section at the end of the dream, but unfortunately it has now gone.
I do believe that's everything. I had another jaunt to Acock's Green this lunchtime to get more food colouring paste for Alison's birthday picnic cake, and thankfully the trains did not conspire against me for once. Rather, my own stupidity did, as I managed to go the wrong way out of the station and added 20 minutes to my overall time. Boo.
Need to pick up some other bits of shopping tonight, including lime marmelade...
Over and out.