CORALINE:

For me, 3-D has never been a determining factor in deciding whether a movie deserves recommendation. (See sidebar below). In this work, it’s combined with stop-motion and animation to tell the story of a girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who discovers a “wall tunnel” in her home leading to an alternate world inhabited by seemingly perfect people who have buttons sewn over their eyes. Visually, it looks like something Lewis Carroll might have conjured up if he had dropped some of the brown acid from Woodstock. I say that in something of a positive vein because the images in this film are at times truly eye-popping and representative of the way that technological advances are blurring the ability to distinguish animation from live action. That makes it an interesting movie to look at. But from a narrative standpoint, this is a movie too hard to watch because it never brings its premise to its full creative potential. Adapted from the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, CORALINE comes off as material that doesn’t quite find its form in the medium of film. The weird angle point of view depicted in “the other world” sequences reminded me of that episode from TWILIGHT ZONE — THE MOVIE (1983) where a little boy’s powers allow him to get anything he wanted from the terrified adults around him. Both screenplays have their share of the sort of creepiness found in any commercial featuring a talking baby. They also lack what I’d call a moment of revelation or storytelling payoff that was present in their original forms. The bottom line is that the best thing I can say about this movie is that it kept me from having to watch the Jonas Brothers’ 3-D concert movie.

3-D MOVIES THAT WERE ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD: BEOWULF (2007), CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), HOUSE OF WAX (1953), IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953), MISS SADIE THOMSPON (1953), KISS ME KATE (1953)