As is often the case, the book was far superior to the movie. While brilliantly animated (and presented in 3-D), Director Henry Selick's 2009 release of Coraline failed to capture the essence of the masterfully-crafted story by Neil Gaiman. In spite of the valiant efforts of powerkid Dakota Fanning, and the "Desperate" Teri Hatcher, the film fell flat for me, even before I had something to compare it to.
While Selick's screenplay left me feeling as though adults had toiled feverishly in order to appeal to a child-like perspective, Gaiman's original work effortlessly transported me to a sacred place of wonder and amazement, often only inhabited by the very young and imaginative. In my humble opinion, there is almost nothing worse than grown-ups who bend over backward in order to appear "cool" to the younger generation. Either you're cool or you aren't -- and if you aren't, no amount of research on playground lingo can help you. Fortunately for all the readers out there, young and not-so-young, Neil Gaiman is incredibly cool.
Neil Gaiman is also incredibly English. Although he now lives in the United States, much of his work is full of delicious British colloquialisms, and overall, bears a decidedly English flavour. When I read his work, I imagine everyone speaking like Oliver Twist, even before I've been instructed by the author to do so. Unfortunately, none of this flavour comes through in the motion picture, as the production was highly Americanized in order to appeal to wallets of the west. Teri Hatcher couldn't have produced a believable British accent if her parents were Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher!
Interspersed throughout the book's 162 pages is a collection of illustrations by Dave McKean. The drawings are not what one would normally expect to find within a children's book, which is much of what makes them so incredible. Rendered in a ragged, sketchy style, many of the images are downright frightening -- perfect accompaniments to Gaiman's enchanting tale of secret doors, lost children, and a fearsomely-wicked woman. One thousand heartfelt thank-you's to Karswell for gifting me with this delightfully-quirky book!
"We are small but we are many
We are many we are small
We were here before you rose
We will be here when you fall..."