"CORALINE"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Dakota Fanning as CORALINE JONES
    Teri Hatcher as MOTHER
    Jennifer Saunders as MISS SPINK
    Dawn French as MISS FORCIBLE
    Keith David as CAT
    John Hodgman as FATHER
    Robert Bailey Jr. as WYBIE LOVAT
    Ian McShane as MR. BOBINSKY

    Rated PG
    Studio: Focus Features

    Directed by: Henry Selick

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Based on a short novel by Neil Gaiman, “Coraline” is a horror fantasy about a young girl who wishes her life were different. She’s bored with her family, and she’s bored with where she lives. After moving into an old house, Coraline is given a mysterious doll that looks amazingly like her. Later, she discovers a door in one of the house’s rooms, covered with wallpaper.

Coraline finds a way to open the door, and late at night she steps inside. The door takes her to another world, which seems happier, brighter and better than the one she lives in. There, she meets her “Other Mother,” who is perfect in every way, except she has buttons for eyes. As Coraline finds more to love about this world, we soon discover that there is something sinister behind the happiness.

WHAT I LIKED
Back in February when “Coraline” hit the theaters, I proudly declared that this was the film to beat as best of the year. Now that 2009 is two-thirds complete, it’s still arguably the best film of the year. So many aspects of the film were fresh and innovative – from the story to the design to the new use of stereoscopic 3D filmmaking for a stop-motion feature.

The film is directed by Henry Selick, who was behind “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” As awesome as that film was, Selick was overshadowed by producer and co-director Tim Burton. Now that he’s got a film he can call his own, he has proved himself as a brilliant filmmaker.

“Coraline” has the strange ability to be both a huge, all-encompassing story and a self-contained dark fantasy about just one family. This makes it big enough to live on a large Hollywood scale but still has the appeal of a child fighting her own personal battles.

Although it was originally released in 3D in the theaters, the film loses very little in its transfer to Blu-ray, and this is because the movie is not a gimmick at all. “Coraline” is as near perfect as a film can be, with a chilling yet charming story along with a compelling soundtrack and a fascinating look.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Nothing. Like I said, it is as near perfect as a film can be.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
If you’re going to lay down the cash to bring “Coraline” into your home, you’d be best to buy the Blu-ray. Taking a nod from Disney’s packaging of their family releases, the Blu-ray is packaged with a DVD as well. So if you haven’t upgraded to a high-definition system yet, you can still enjoy the movie while you wait for your Christmas present.

The Blu-ray release comes with four pairs of 3D glasses and has an option to watch the film in 3D, although this is mastered in the old-fashioned anaglyph mode rather than the digital 3D presentation in the theaters. This is sadly your only option for 3D at home, and it’s nice to watch for the gee-whiz factor, but the movie is good enough that you don’t need the eye-popping mode at home.

Special features included on the disc are a commentary by director Henry Selick and composer Bruno Coulais, a slate of deleted scenes and three featurettes, including “The Making of Coraline,” “Voicing the Characters” and “Creepy Coraline,” which looks at the more scary elements of the film.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray is the U-Control feature, which allows you to view additional material in a picture-in-picture mode. These include the feature-length animatic, interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage and voice sessions.

Finally, the “Coraline” Blu-ray is D-Box motion enabled and has additional content available online through the Universal BD-Live Center.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of stop-motion and dark children’s tales.

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