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With CORALINE ($40), director Henry Selick has beautifully adapted Neil Gaiman's 2002 novella to the screen, and in doing so, has created a new animated classic, that signals the continued viability of stop-motion animation in this age of CGI. Taken on its own, CORALINE is a wondrous animated film with a delightfully dark faire tale at its heart. The story of CORALINE involves one Coraline Jones, the eleven-year-old girl of the film’s title, who has just moved into the Pink Palace Apartments with her workaholic parents… a pair that have little time for their rambunctious daughter. Lonely and bored in her new surroundings, Coraline explores the Pink Palace and has encounters with the eccentric neighbors, who include a pair of retired actresses, as well as a Russian acrobat. In her travels, Coraline also encounters the landlady’s annoying grandson and the stray black cat that he cares for. Coraline’s explorations of the Pink Palace eventually lead to her to a small door in her apartment, which she opens… only to discover it has been bricked over on the other side.

During a restless night’s sleep, Coraline is awakened by a mouse, which she follows back to the small door, where it disappears. Opening the door, Coraline discovers that it is no longer bricked over and now leads to a small passageway, which she crawls through. On the other side, Coraline finds herself in an alternate version of the house, where she meets her "Other Mother" and "Other Father," who are far more attentive than her parents in the real world. As for the "Other World" itself, it is a much more magical, beautiful and delightful version of the world that Coraline knows and dislikes. Of course, there is one caveat to the "Other World"… all of the inhabitants have buttons sewn over their eyes. Soon, Coraline’s "Other Mother" begins pressuring her to sew buttons over her eyes, and at this point, the horrible truth about the "Other World" begins to come to light. The vocal talent behind CORALINE features Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr. and Ian McShane.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made CORALINE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The Blu-ray release features both the 2D and 3D versions of the film- with four pairs of 3D glasses included in the package. Let’s start with the 2D 1080p presentation… CORALINE looks phenomenal in high definition. Shot with digital cameras, every frame of CORALINE has been perfectly captured and the film’s miniature stop-motion world had been meticulously rendered to Blu-ray. The picture appears wonderfully sharp, highly defined and impressively dimensional (even in 2D). Colors are exemplary, with all of the hues of the "Other World" leaping off the screen. Blacks are pitch perfect and the whites are totally crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are excellent for this type of animation. Fully digital, CORALINE does not display any film-based imperfections. A slight amount noise/grain does appear from time to time in the image.

As for the 3D 1080p presentation, CORALINE ranks with very best that the format can offer. However, this is still a primitive anaglyph 3D system with red/blue lenses, which tends to distort the image, skew the colors and cause this reviewer to suffer a headache in less than a half hour’s time. While CORALINE may have had fantastic 3D in the theater, the current system makes it more of a curiosity than the preferred way to enjoy the film in one’s home. I look forward to revisiting CORALINE in 3D, when a better home based 3D technology hits the market.

CORALINE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a surprisingly effective sound design, which becomes more and more involved as the story switches gears. Even during the quiet passages, the outlying channels engage nicely, delivering precise sound effect placement. As the action builds, effects come at the audience from all sides, as well as effortlessly panning across the soundstage. The various sonic environments are beautifully brought to life, as the sound design layers atmospheric elements into the worlds it creates. Fidelity is wonderful, thanks to the lossless encode, which enhances all of the sound effects, as well as the film’s musical component. The bass channel is deep and weighty. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as solid body of supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Henry Selick and composer Bruno Coulais. Featurettes and other programs include: The Making Of Coraline (thirty-six minutes), Voicing The Characters (eleven minutes) and Creepy Coraline (six minutes). Nine minutes of Deleted Scenes close the standard supplements. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Tours And Voice Sessions, as well as Animatics are amongst the U-Control offerings. CORALINE is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). A DVD and Digital Copy of the film are also provided, with both housed on the second disc of this set.

Although a new film, CORALINE already deserves to be called a stop-motion animation classic. I can’t heap enough superlatives on the 2D Blu-ray presentation, as it is a visual and audible treat. Absolutely recommended.



Coraline (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy w/ 3D) [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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