Being big fans of both Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, I was prepared to be gobsmacked. My first surprise came when, over opening credits, I realized that Tim Burton did not, in fact, direct Coraline. Huh. (Check out this interview in Ain’t It Cool News with the director, Henry Selick.)
The stop-motion/digital animation is beautiful, eye-popping, and throughly engaging. Even a foggy gray day is made eye-candy- rendered with the multiple layers and textures for which Selick and his animation team have become famous. While departing slightly from the original text, the Alice-in-Wonderland-spirit and the darkness of Gaiman’s characters and settings remain.
What I didn’t find necessary were the 3D-effects. There is one scene at the very beginning showing a needle and thread being worked through a doll. Other than this, the remaining 3D-effects I found to be distracting to the visual narrative.
I’d say definitely see Coraline– just don’t waste your extra three bucks on the 3D version.