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3-D Filmmaking Comes Of Age In Stunning 'Coraline'


Here's an entertainment model which is making a comeback. We had 3-D commercials during the Super Bowl, a 3-D show on NBC Monday, and new in theaters today, the movie "Coraline" in stop-motion 3-D. Critic Kenneth Turan says it's worth putting on those funny glasses to see this movie.

KENNETH TURAN: The third dimension comes of age with "Coraline." It's the first contemporary film where the 3-D experience feels intrinsic to the story, instead of like a godforsaken gimmick. "Coraline" is a remarkable feat of imagination, a magical tale with a genuinely sinister edge. The film tells the story of an 11-year-old girl's adventures in an alternate universe, where her parents are not her parents.

(Soundbite of movie, "Coraline")

Ms. DAKOTA FANNING (As Coraline): My mother doesn't have, but-but-but…

Ms. TERI HATCHER (As Other Mother): Buttons? Do you like them? I'm your other mother, silly.

TURAN: Everything in this other world is livelier and more exotic.

(Soundbite of movie, "Coraline")

Ms. HATCHER (As Other Mother): They're cocoa beetles from Zanzibar.

TURAN: But the other mother slowly begins pressuring Coraline to stay forever, and the experience becomes the kind of nightmare you can't wake up from no matter how hard you try.

(Soundbite of movie, "Coraline")

Ms. FANNING (As Coraline): I want to be with my real mom and dad. I want you to let me go.

TURAN: Despite its PG rating, this film is not for the smallest among us. "Coraline" is written and directed by Henry Selick, responsible for "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Selick is the preeminent practitioner of a pain-staking, labor-intensive process called stop-motion animation. Stop-motion involves the frame-by-frame manipulation of tiny, three-dimentional models. So a table in this movie is a real table; a chair is a real chair.

While stop-motion creates a fantastical imaginary world, the third dimension makes it so unblinkingly real, we feel we can walk around in it if we had to. Watching the story unfold in 3-D makes the theatrical experience feel special in a way it hasn't in years.

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for Morning Edition and for the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.
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