i'd say the same for coraline.
at the beginning, i loved it. the animation seemed jerkier than nightmare before Christmas, but i didn't mind. i loved the familiarly skewed world, that coraline herself had issues and frustrations, and that the movie didn't insist we instantly love her. but as the movie progressed, the story becomes more ominous, the yang to nightmare's yin. the story of jack skellington is superficially scary, one of vampires, werewolves, and jellied brains. but at its core, the world of halloweentown is fun and friendly. coraline looks like a fantastic dreamworld, but reveals to be a much truer nightmare.
although i think it was really the naked aged burlesque starlet that was too much for me.
perhaps it's that my friends now have children, or maybe that i'm maturing more myself, but i do think more about what i see. mark was very surprised when, afterward, i mentioned that it was rated pg. and i agree with him--treat this as a pg-13 movie. and i think coraline knows it's for older kids. it's a story for those who love neil gaiman: people like that guy down the hall here. the publicity department didn't quite think to mention that part, however.
and, like the ring, don't feel safe even when you think you're safe.
with that said, there was a lot that i did like and love. like corpse bride, i loved the bold, brilliant colors of the "other world". i loved the other garden, loved that john linnel sang the other dad song. i loved the bat dogs, the way things turned to sand, the mouse circus show, the design of the gloves that coraline liked. wybie's motorcycle mask, the cat who disliked rats even the best days, the cotton candy cannons. i liked their utilization of 3-d at times and how the other world deconstructed into a matrix-esque void. i was even more impressed when i flipped through my american cinematographer issue and learned that that was not cg: the dissolution was actual set design.
i liked how everyone wasn't perfect at the end. in fact, that was the idea: that "perfect" isn't really perfect at all.
perhaps it wasn't as dark as i recall. but it was darker than i was expecting.
mostly, though, it was the old lady in the stage show that pushed me away. definitely wasn't expecting that....
p.s. up comes out may 29th. = )