Friday, July 24, 2009

Coraline and other miscellany

I haven't been following news out of San Diego too closely, so I'm sure I've missed several interesting announcements and whatnot, but here are a couple that interested me:

Oni Press has some interesting books coming out, including a new series called 6th Gun from the Damned team of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt and a new Polly and the Pirates book will be illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez. That's an interesting choice of artist; I hope he can do cute that somehow manages to approximate Ted Naifeh's work.

On the manga front, people have been talking about the official launch of SIGIKKI, but Viz seems to also have quietly rolled out their Shonen Sunday site, which also has several series that will be serialized online. I haven't read all of the ones available yet, but I did check out Yuu Watase's Arata: The Legend, which seems decent enough. I do like Watase, enough to have suffered through all of Absolute Boyfriend, so hopefully this one will turn out better than that. I will say that I'm loving the way Viz is doing these translated versions of manga magazines. Hopefully that will be something that starts to proliferate; it would be a great way to get more content available over on this side of the Pacific, even if some of it never makes it to print.

Okay, here's some thoughts on what I watched last night:

2009, directed by Henry Selick

Wow, this was really good, both as an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's kids' book and as a fun little movie on its own. If you're going to make a weird, somewhat creepy movie for the little-'uns, why not go the full cutesy animation and 3-D route and make it extra enticing before freaking them right the hell out with the idea that their mother could turn into a ravenous magical creature who wants to kidnap you into an evil dimension and sew buttons onto your eyes. Yikes.

But yes, the adaptation really lives up to the book, bringing Gaiman's story to life in a way that's not too moralistic, even with a "don't take your seemingly-boring life and family for granted" message. And while there are a few things added to fill out the running time, there's no egregious departures from the story, at least not from what I remembered.

Especially good: the voice acting, especially Keith David as the cat (who, unlike the rest of the characters and visuals, seemed based on Dave McKean's style of art, a nice nod to his illustrations in the original book), and John Hodgman as Coraline's father. I especially liked the way the latter's sleepy, distracted inflections transformed into a sort of dreamy giddiness in the dream world (or whatever you want to call the nightmare dimension Coraline travels to).

And the animation! Henry Selick's signature stop-motion is just gorgeous here, and it's married with some beautiful CGI to make fluid motion and dazzling effects, even without the benefit of 3-D (Netflix only sent me the 2-D version, durnit). The way the dream world contrasts with the real world by seeming more colorful and exciting than the usual drab grey and rain is impressive stuff, and there's some crazy shit that shows up, like a giant-breasted, pasty-wearing old acrobat lady or a giant bug helicopter. Wow.

Yes, good stuff. I suppose I could try to synopsize the plot, but you probably can figure it out from the paragraphs above. If you're not turned off by animation, then see it, says I.