Coraline (Dakota Fanning) is not happy with her life. She has just moved house with her parents and the neighbours aren't exactly pleasant. She would like nothing better than a way out, and when she finds a bizarre hole in the wall she is transported to an alternative reality featuring her ideals.
Initially she is happy with her new found life which features more pleasant versions of both her family and her neighbours; but behind every silver lining is a sinister looking dark cloud.
Coraline has often been compared to A Nightmare Before Christmas for the choice of melancholic puppetry but undoubtedly the biggest influence in Coraline would be Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass, as many comparisons can be taken between the two protagonists.
The type of animation shown in Coraline comes with a certain amount of risk; adults don't go to the cinema to watch cartoons, and younger children - who animations are more usually aimed at - may have a case if they feel fearful of the eerie look of the picture. Despite this, however, I could not see Coraline receiving better critical reviews if it had been made any other way.
It would be wrong to call Dakota Fanning a 'rising star' of film despite her mere 16 years of age; she has long since established herself as one of the best child actresses of all time with commendable appearances in War of the Worlds and Charlotte's Web. In Coraline she is faced with a new challenge in voice acting and once again she impresses, backed up and contrasted well by the more baritone Keith David as The Cat. Despite casting British comedy heroines French and Saunders to occasionally lighten the mood it rarely detracted from the overall sombre feeling.
This is, however, not a five star film. The anti-climatic ending will please those audience members who want more but it felt more like it was going through the motions rather than impressing me with anything new.
A decent film nonetheless, with impressive imagery and voice acting.