Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, Week of Love

Stardust, by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, based off the novel by Neil Gaiman: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Tristan Thorn lives in the English town of Wall, named for the long wall that runs along the village separating it from the fantasy world that is said to be on the other side.  When he sets to win the heart of the local girl, Victoria, he cannot seem to do anything more than blunder every attempt to do so.  Suddenly he is struck with an idea to win her hand in marriage.  Cross the wall and retrieve a star the pair has seen fall from the sky…which may be easier said than done.

On the other side of the Wall lies the kingdom of Stormhold where a dying king’s seven sons are competing to decide who will reign after his death.  Unfortunately for them it is either the throne or death themselves…but when they cannot seem to defeat each other for the title the king sends out his ruby necklace to be restored by his one true surviving heir.  Which ends up knocking a star out of the sky and to earth.  The same star seen by Tristan and Victoria that fateful night.

But Tristan is not the only one who sees the star fall from the sky.  A trio of witches is also after her heart to make themselves young again and extend their life for another 400 years.

As Tristan crosses the wall in an effort to find the fallen star he meets a host of characters from a swashbuckling pirate, to the deadly prince Septimus, insane witches, and even the fallen star herself…what he could never imagine was the adventure that he would embark on…as soon as he can get past the old man that guards the hole in the Wall.

General Information:

-Genre: Romantic Fantasy Adventure

-Creator: Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, based off the novel by Neil Gaiman

-Length: 128 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (for mild implied sex and nudity, moderate violence and gore, mild profanity, mild use of alcohol, moderate intense scenes including fighting and magic elements)

-Where to Watch: Netflix (with subscription), Amazon Prime Video (Buy/Rent), iTunes (Buy/Rent), DVD, Blue-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Rickey Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Evertt, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro

-Page of Reference in RP1:

Review (contains spoilers):

I really enjoy this film but be warned I have not read the book at the time of writing this review so I cannot compare the two. 

The story is quite unique to what I have seen in the past.  But that is to be expected from the mind of Neil Gaiman.  Between the adventures through the land of faerie, the cruel princes trying to gain their father’s throne, and witches trying to get ahold of a fallen star, the story is varied with the depth of a fully imagined world.

When I first heard of all of the different stories that go on during the course of the film, I thought it would be quite confusing to keep everything straight but the filmmakers did an exquisite job interweaving everything a way that makes it easy to follow and incredibly enjoyable.

The characters are bright and bold both in their portrayal and their writing.  The costuming is lovely… a perfect mix of historically accurate Victorian styles with fantasy elements. The settings are beautiful.  Just an incredibly done film. 

I love the world that Gaiman created and this film brought to life.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Flick Central

Coraline, created by LAIKA, based on the novella Coraline by Neil Gaiman: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Eleven-year-old Coraline has just moved into a mansion turned apartment complex with her parents.  As the move happens her parents are busy trying to get their latest book done before their deadline.  They aren’t able to keep Coraline entertained in her new environment and encourage her to go and explore the grounds.

She meets a boy named Wybee whose grandmother owns the apartment complex.  He is weird and eventually gives Coraline a doll that looks like her.  When she asks where he found the doll he doesn’t seem to know, but comes back later when his grandmother is upset that Coraline was given the doll.

As rainy weather eventually prevents Coraline from exploring outside she takes to the inside of her home discovering a locked passage on her adventures.  When the door ends up opening seemingly of its own accord Coraline follows the hall into another world.  Just like her own…but better.

Better food, better entertainments from the neighbors…and another mother and father.  As Coraline makes herself at home the Other Mother offers her a choice… she can leave, or she can stay forever.  The catch? She must have buttons sewn into her eyes.

When Coraline asks to be given time to make the choice and returns to her world she gets the feeling that the Other Mother isn’t going to let her go so easily.  When her parents turn up missing she becomes frantic.  Will the Other Mother let Coraline go…or will this turn into a fight for not only her life but a fight for her parents as well?

General Information:

-Genre: Stop Motion Animation, Dark Fantasy, Horror

-Creator: LAIKA, based on the novella Coraline by Neil Gaiman

-Length: 100 minutes

-Rating: PG (for dark themes and horror, mild violence, death and discussions of death, fantasy themes, some language and suggestive humor, scary images and other thematic elements)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Starz, YouTube, iTunes, DVD, Blue-Ray, or find it at your local library!

-Main Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Ian McShane

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Absolutely one of my favorite LAIKA films.  I watched it long before I ever read the book or the graphic novel but I fell in love with the delightfully dark story of the young Coraline.

Between her bratty and self-centered behavior and the strange and mysterious Wybee to the very disturbing Other Mother, LAIKA did a fantastic job utilizing their stop motion techniques to the fullest.  I honestly don’t thing traditional 2D or 3D animation could have really pulled off the jerky and creepy movements of the Beldam, the strange soupy movements of the Other Father as he disintegrates or the lithe and graceful movements of the Cat.

There is so much that can be said of this film.

The story does a great job of following what was in the book with the exception of adding Wybee (which is honestly a welcome addition and a fun companion for Coraline).  The characters are the same, the story follows very closely with little variation and the animation is just beautiful.

Defiantly a must see but beware with younger children.  Just because this movie is a children’s story it is dark and deals with very dark themes (both real and fantasy) and may be scary for some young viewers.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by P. Craig Russel: a Graphic Novel Review

Synopsis:

When young Coraline and her parents move into a new apartment she starts to explore the surrounding area and visits the neighbors.  Everyone seems nice but Coraline soon becomes bored, even more so when it rains so hard that she isn’t able to go outside.

While exploring her own house she finds a door that leads to no where having been bricked up to turn the sprawling manor house into individual units.  When she is awoken in the middle of the night to find the door not only open, but no longer bricked up, she enters the hall to find herself in a house similar to her own only better.

More and better toys, food she likes better, and better neighbors.  With another mother and another father…just like hers but not really. 

What will Coraline do when she is asked to stay by the Other Mother?  And is the house…the better house…all that it seems?

General Information:

-Genre: Dark Fantasy Graphic Novel

-Author/Illustrator: Neil Gaiman with illustrations by P. Craig Russel

-Number of Pages: 192

-Main Characters: Coraline, Mother, Father, The Other Mother

-Where to Read: Look for it at your local booksellers (often they can order items that are not in stock), or check for it at your local library (like I did!)

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Beautifully illustrated and rendered, this graphic novel edition of Gaiman’s classic Coraline is absolutely lovely.  The story is not lost in the art.  And while the story is quite dark (suitable for older children but younger children may be bothered by some of the imagery) the illustrations are anything but gory or overly graphic.

My first experience with Coraline was with the movie adaptation done by Laika film studio.  You can see my review of it here:

I was pleased to find that the story hadn’t been changed much.

This graphic novel form of the story is so wonderfully done that it makes an excellent edition to the novella.  It not only enhances the story but makes it accessible to more people.

I love that more and more novels and novellas are being turned into graphic novels. There are many people who struggle to read novels for various reasons and having graphic novels or audiobooks of these makes them more accessible.

And this one shows how art and story telling can go hand in hand.

The illustrations capture the essence of the book.  Sweet and not startling.  Just creepy enough to be on the dark side of fantasy but not too graphic…as the story is intended for children.  Coraline is an inquisitive child who is learning that her parents don’t always have time to keep her entertained.  They seem unattentive from her point of view.  Yet she grows to realize that they love her deeply and that she loves them too.

She learns to use her kindness to help others and save the future from the Other Mother. Her cunning and her quick wit keep the story interesting and charming.

Overall an enjoyable read and a lovely graphic novel.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.