johnlink ranks CORALINE 3D (2009)

So here is the first ranking of an animated movie. Most everything remains identical to a ranking for a live action film, except that the ACTING category encompasses the work the animators did creating the characters in support of the voice work done by the actors. In that sense, the category should be called CHARACTERIZATION, but since I have OCD that would screw up the headings in my excel file.

Coraline is a stop-motion animated movie about a little girl who finds a seemingly perfect alternate reality. Unfortunately, things are not all that they appear to be.

I watched CORALINE (2009) in the theater in 3D on 2.26.09. It was my first viewing of the film.



This is a beautifully put together movie. The visuals are often stunning, and animation is usually flawless. There’s is a definite stylistic similarity to NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (both directed by Henry Selick) in color palate as well as animation style. The grass-is-always-greener theme really comes through, and Coraline doesn’t come by her morality cheaply. SCORE: 8


The Pixarian referential stuff should probably fall under the FILM category, since it was clearly a filmakers’ decision, but I include it here because these references really added to my enjoyment of the film. Homages are made to NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (tall guy crossing a bridge in herky-jerky motion), dogs playing poker, ALICE IN WONDERLAND (the cat, the door, etc.), Starry Night, Hamlet (the player’s speech) etc. I’m sure there are plenty more I missed or am ignorant of.

The movie itself, however, was a bit too carefully plotted, and a sometimes slow in gaining momentum. I would certainly watch it again, but I wouldn’t put it on my MOST ENTERTAINING OF THE YEAR list. SCORE: 6


The voice work was fantastic. The animation in support of this work was awesome. It’s safe to say that each character created had their own unique identity, and really popped in their own way. Nobody is wasted in this movie. The score is only as low as it is, because it’s not like they were doing HAMLET. Okay, at one point they were doing HAMLET, for a few moments… you know what I mean. SCORE: 8.


This movie’s achillies heel. The story was a little too perfectly crafted. It was math in film. One house, two worlds, three apartments. Each supporting character gets three sequences. The first being a jovial introduction to the real person, the second being a bit too exuberant and perfect version of the person in the alternate world, and the third being a nightmare representation of that person. It was predictable to a fault. Also, the game Coraline plays at the end never felt dangerous enough. The happy scenes seemed scarier to me, probably because I knew it couldn’t all be growing flowers and dancing mice.

Also, I did have a little issue with a couple minor details. We get that his name is Wyborn (as in Why Born?) but that he prefers Wybie (the even more existential question… Why Be?) we didn’t need to get hit over the head with it by having Coraline make this connection for us. And certainly not twice. Also, the animation of facial expressions was good enough to get that Coraline hates being called Caroline. Didn’t need the overly emphasized dialogue to get it. Just a small case of feeling like the filmmakers were trying to hard to make a point to the kids in the audience. Note to writers: The animation and colorful character had the kids at hello. You don’t need to work extra hard to pull them in.

The story itself, and the interaction of characters is the only thing that saves the writing score from plummeting lower. I did like a lot of the build-up. I just felt it didn’t pay off as sharply as it could have. SCORE: 5


There were at least three or four moments when the discordant music heightened the scene it was scored for. Eerie, oddly melodic, the musical composition earns a bonus point. SCORE: 1



8+6+8+5+1= 28


~ by johnlink00 on February 27, 2009.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks CORALINE 3D (2009)”

  1. Haven’t seen it yet, but I’m surprised the writing was problematic for you. I wonder if it was slightly too child-targeted (will definitely check it out, so I guess I’ll find out).

    And I’m tweeting @neilhimself to tell him that you didn’t like his writing. Haha, just kidding.

  2. Yeah, looking back on it I felt like it was missing something. There were only a few moments in the film itself where I felt jarred out of the story. Giving it a score of 5 means its just plain average. And that’s lower than I thought.

    I did think it was interesting that the world of the movie was parallel to our own. I never expected to see a cell phone or hear them mention Pontiac, Michigan in a movie like this.

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