Feb 17 2009 2:42pm

Coraline 3D: worth a second viewing

Ghost boy from CoralineI can no longer play the, “I was raised in the NC mountains and therefore don’t understand your strange city ways” card. I’m 35, I’ve been living in the Raleigh/Durham area for 17 years (yikes!) and I’ve had plenty of exposure to technology, paved roads, and indoor plumbing.

Still, when I posted on Twitter this weekend that I was going to see Coraline in 3D, I realized it would be my first 3D movie.

We’d already seen Coraline (2D). We loved it, and our six year old daughter loved it. (I think it scared me more than it did her. I got a thing about spiders.) But I’d heard good things about the 3D version and wanted to experience it myself.

I’d seen 3D stuff before. Mostly books, the kind with the red and green lines that give you a headache to see when you look at it without the special glasses, and only less so when you put the glasses on. So I felt like a barefoot rube when I was surprised to be handed a pair of large, plastic glasses with clear lenses. Where were the cheap paper thingies with the crinkly red and green films?

Honestly, headaches were my biggest fear with the movie. I didn’t know if my brain could handle an hour and a half of slightly different input from each eye. But the entire experience was amazing.

Coraline 2D was a beautiful movie that had our family talking and agreeing the DVD can’t come out too soon. We agreed it was a great movie, but still a movie.

Coraline 3D was an experience.

Before, when hearing about 3D, I assumed it meant the exciting bits of the movie would “leap out” at you. And don’t get me wrong, leap out they did—before bursting into extemporaneous song, the Other Father reached out his hands to coraline, and they did stretch out into the audience. And at the end, during the battle with the Other Mother, I was convinced she would leap out of the screen and occupy my nightmares for a good week. And if you wait till the end, after the credits, you'll be treated to a simple-yet-gorgeous 3D spectacle that had me entranced. I won't spoil, but I will say that it's not important to the plot and it's worth waiting through the credits.

Maybe I’m old, but what I appreciated most from the experience were the more subtle touches of 3D. When Coraline entered her room in the Other Mother’s house, little winged (dragonflies? Hummingbirds? It was hard to tell…) creatures flew seemingly from behind us toward Coraline. When she walked outside to search for a dowsing rod, we peeked at her from behind a flowering bush. And just exploring the house, the outside, moving through the tunnel between the worlds, they were all done with such beautiful detail that it had me disappointed to return to the real world and the real 3D experience of everyday life.

The 3D failed for me, however, during the more exciting scenes when the “leaping out” effect was done during a quick movement. The action did leap out but it ended up blurry for me; I could feel my eyes trying to adjust and make sense of it and the scene would pass before I could grasp it.  Interestingly, I didn’t encounter these problems during the climactic battle which was done mostly in black and white.

I do think the choice of 2 or 3D will depend on the movie . I’m a little too much of a wuss to want to see a horror flick in 3D, and although I did enjoy Bolt, I can’t see the 3D experience being what Coraline was. But I do count myself a new convert to 3D. I can’t wait for Pixar’s Up and Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens (I’m assuming they’re both coming out in 3D, as we saw 3D previews for them…). The technology is clearly moving beyond colored film cells and shitty, uncomfortable paper glasses, and if it looks like a movie is aiming to be a visual orgy (like Coraline was), I'd recommend going all the way and hitting the 3D theater.

Meridth Gimbel
1. Meridth Gimbel
I totally agree. I just did a post (edwardandmeridthgimbel.blogspot.com) on how I was assuming this 3D business was a promotional tool but I was pleasantly surprised at how much it added to the design and aesthetic of the movie. Hooray for 3-D!
seth johnson
2. seth
I think it is a promotional tool. A mechanism to inspire people to come back to the theaters rather than wait for the DVD or download bootlegs.

Judging from Lafferty's piece, it has succeeded in creating an 'experience' beyond what can be found in most people's living rooms.

Chris Meadows
3. Robotech_Master
Yep. It's kind of funny, though, when you think about it. This is only the latest chapter in a story that's been played out ever since TV was first introduced and gave people reasons to stay home rather than go out to theaters. All sorts of oddball gimmicks (3D, "smell-o-vision," sensurround) have come out of attempts to woo the audience away from the little box—and some not so oddball (widescreen movies, 5.1 surround sound).
Meridth Gimbel
4. Hatgirl
And like widescreen and surround sound, it probably won't remain a cinema exclusive for long.
Meridth Gimbel
5. MiltonP
Bolt was the first 3D movie I've seen that I thought was improved by the technology. And when I saw Coraline in 2D, I thought I was missing something. I guess I'll have to see it again.

Meridth Gimbel
6. meeper
When I saw Coraline in 3D they showed 3D trailers for both Up and Monsters vs Aliens. I think Monsters vs Aliens will be fantastic in 3D (effects similar to Monsters, Inc.). Not sure about Up though as it was a little hard to tell the effectiveness from just the trailer.

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