Saturday, February 28, 2009


I saw Coraline in 3-D Thursday night at the Gallery Place theater.

(Side review: Before the show, I had Thai Chili's stir-fried duck with bamboo shoots--quite tasty, but not as spicy as described. My compatriot had some sort of noodle-in-yellow-curry dish that tasted a bit like curry laksa, but not as good as the curry laksa at my favorite asian restaurant in DC, Malaysian Kopitiam.)

I read the book by Neil Gaiman. It's a children's book, yes, but there's always been an element of children's fantasy in Gaiman's work, so tthat was fine. I remember liking it but being far from loving it. Call me too growed-up.

I was excited to see Coraline the movie, because it looked creepy and creative. Plus I wanted to check out the 3-D stuff.

First, I wasn't prepared to pay $12.00 for the 3-D effect (and that's with my student discount). You don't even get to keep the glasses for the extra three bucks; you're encouraged to recycle them after the show.

Then the ads. I really detest the fact that they were pimping 12-year-old media so hard. After showing a bunch of ads for a boy-band-ish new movie, a kid's reality show, and Conan O'Brien (was that for the parents or the kids?), they recapped all the ads they'd just showed us.

Then the previews for other movies in 3-D. The Tim Burton one, called "9," looks boring and not really 3-D-ish. I can't remember the second one. But the third was kind of exciting and kind of "huh? A CG remake of an anime?" It was a teaser for Astro Boy.

And finally, the movie itself. Coraline's very pretty in parts, and creepy and disturbing in some ways, but... not creepy and disturbing enough.

Gaiman's story is creepy itself. A girl finds out that she has an Other Mother, who wants her to come live with her in her wonderful world. All she has to do... is give up her eyes and sew buttons into her sockets instead. Lotsa creepiness in that.

The movie was... It was too pretty to be creepy. It was too perfectly executed to inspire nightmares. Thanks to advances in technology, the stop-motion technique is really just a put-on; there's no need for jerkiness in the figures. Everything moved smoothly. Too smoothly.

You've heard of the Uncanny Valley, right? There's this place in the continuum from C3P0 to Commander Data where we get the shivers. Or at least we Americans do; the Japanese, on the other hand...

When I went to see Coraline, I wanted to take a stroll in the Uncanny Valley. I wanted to see twitchiness, almost-humanness, oddness. I'm not a horror kind of guy, but I do like creepy. Coraline the 3-D movie isn't creepy. It's cute. And cute is kind of nice but also kind of boring.

The deuce of it is, there's almost no point in watching Coraline at home without 3-D glasses. The effects are dazzling, when they're used well. I would've been upset had I not seen it in 3-D. I might've walked out, were it not for that cool feature.

Oh, there was a good part in the story. It had to do with dogs.


Phaedra said...

i really enjoyed coraline in 3-d and my theater didn't charge extra for the glasses (yay michigan!)...i didn't read the book so that may be why i don't share your disappointment...i thought the prettiness of the movie made it all the more creepy...the bright, vivid colors telling a dark and sinister story...i will say that the creepiness would have have been multiplied if the characters were jerky

aak said...

Man, the more I think about it, the more I wonder why it was that I came out disappointed. It was really well-done... I still don't get why I didn't find it interesting or effective.