Frame by Frame

A visual wonder, Coraline is narratively sluggish

Scene from 'Coraline'
Scene from ‘Coraline’

In this day and age of CGI-assisted animation, you have to admire the stubborn tenacity (or is that outright insanity?) of those who cleave to old-fashioned methods. Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach) is one such filmmaker. His latest stop-motion animated foray is based on a book by Neil Gaiman (Sandman) about a bored, lonely young girl who discovers an alternate, potentially malevolent universe.

The animation, achieved one frame at a time (24 frames per second) is just plain jaw-dropping, and the implementation of 3D gives the film an added boost of visual splendor. You feel like you’re living it.

CORALINE
starstarstar
Starring Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher
Rated PG
101 Minutes
Opens Friday
Area Theaters

Unfortunately, when all is said and done, the storyline is rather prosaic. Still, there are enough visual set pieces to keep your eyes engaged — a mouse circus is a spectacle beyond belief, and Coraline’s climactic battle with the movie’s villain, in which the backgrounds peel away into nothingness, is an exercise in startling abstract imagery.

Featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher and British comedy legends Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, who steal their every scene as a pair of doddering old sisters with a rock-solid collection of taffy and alarmingly ample bosoms.

Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.

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