Coraline – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Coraline (2009)
Release Date: 2022
Runtime: 101 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Shout! Factory
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray SteelBook
Release Date: 12/13/22
Director: Henry Selick
Voice Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., Keith David, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Ian McShane
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Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom
“Coraline” was a 2009 stop-motion animated film, based on the 2002 novella [of the same title] written by Neil Gaiman. The film adaptation was written for the screen by and directed by Henry Selick. Selick is best known for also directing the stop-motion animated films “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) and “James and the Giant Peach” (1996).
The stop motion animation here was done by LAIKA Studios, founded in 2005 and based in Portland, Oregon, whose other projects include the films “ParaNorman” (2012), “The Boxtrolls” (2014), “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016), and “Missing Link” (2019).
The protagonist here is an 11-year-old girl named “Coraline“ (voiced by Dakota Fanning). Coraline has just moved into a quaintly bizarre old apartment (“The Pink Palace Apartments”) with her parents. Her mother “Mel Jones” (Teri Hatcher) and her father “Charlie Jones” (John Hodgman) have jobs both where they work from home, writing about gardening. Ironically enough, her parents are so engaged with their jobs to meet deadlines for their publisher that they spend all of their time focused on only work, which seems too dull to their daughter.
One should certainly keep in mind Coraline is an only child and that she has left behind her two close friends back in her old hometown of Pontiac, Michigan to move to this new strange place in Oregon where she knows no one. So, she’s feeling a bit bored and slightly down with her parents being too busy to even talk to her or spend any time.
Although she’s left at home indoors all day with her parents Coraline decides to go outside, after some strong parental suggestion, where she meets an odd young boy about the same age named “Wybie” (Robert Bailey Jr.). The boy’s name is short for “Wyborne” which is a pretty cruel name as even our protagonist quickly jokes. Wybie has a black cat who has been following Coraline around and she’s not too fond of the feline either, going as far as to even insult it. There’s something quite peculiar about the cat that you’ll eventually understand.
Later, as she’s both bored and trying to get slightly accustomed to the area, Coraline also meets some peculiar neighbors in the apartment which is split into three levels of an old larger home. First, up on the top floor, there’s a very athletically ready gentleman from an apparent circus background named “Mr. Bobinsky” (Ian McShane) with his performing mice. Finally, on the bottom floor, you have two former stage actresses living together named “Miss Sprink” (Jennifer Saunders) and her roommate “Miss Forcible” (Dawn French).
After she comes home the first day she’s moved in her mother gives her a package wrapped up that her new friend Wybie has left for her. The package contains a toy doll that looks identical to Coraline but has buttons for eyes. This seems a tad bit odd to her and she’s a bit too old for dolls as she reminds her mother but she takes the handmade toy doll along with her regardless.
When looking around the old house she manages to find a tiny door hidden behind wallpaper. Coraline’s mother opens the door with a key. Oddly there’s nothing behind the small door but bricks. Later on, that night, while dreaming Coraline is led by mice to that very same tiny door. She doesn’t resist and goes right on through a tunnel and comes out in a polar opposite version of her new home. Quickly Coraline here is greeted by a woman calling herself Coraline’s “Other Mother” cooking in the kitchen. It just so happens this other mother seems overly friendly and has buttons for eyes. This “other” world is much more appealing to a young girl than the dull reality where her parents ignore her, so she decides to enjoy it. The next morning when she awakens she realizes it was only a dream or was it? I mean everyone did have buttons for eyes.
Without dishing out any “spoilers” I’ll say that as boring as things are around the Pink Palace Apartments, Coraline is left to her own devices and that could include her fantasies as well, in all fairness. However, let’s just say that she might think some of the things seen in this “other” version of the apartment building are just the result of her imagination and perhaps not only dreams but there’s actually something a bit more sinister going on here.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Coraline” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range.
The release features a new 2022 4K remaster which was supervised by LAIKA Studios. The movie comes from digital source materials which were shot using the Nikon D80 and Red One digital cameras.
Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-100 (100 gigabytes) disc, 79.34 gigabytes total, and 70.6 gigabytes for the film itself. Now, let’s take a look back at the original 2009 Blu-ray 3D “combo pack” release of the film. That release was using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 42.79 gigabytes total, and 19.2 gigabytes for the film itself [in 2D]. With that being said, the 4K version is roughly 3.7 times larger in terms of file size in comparison to the original HD version. Based on my observations via my 4K UHD Blu-ray player, this seems to be running an average (roughly) of anywhere between 76 to 94 Mbps in the HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) codec, hitting peaks as high as 126 and 148 Mbps at times. According to info on the PC side, this seems to have an overall video bitrate of 85.4 Mb/s average. Lastly, based on the HDR10 metadata this has a maximum light level of 1036 nit and the max frame average light level is 154 nit.
Now, I want to visually compare the original Blu-ray and the 4K UHD Blu-ray. So, I’ll be offering you the still screenshots for both the 2009 Blu-ray Disc and the new 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray releases. For those who want to see more Blu-ray VS. 4K screenshots, click the text below.
SOURCES: 2009 Blu-ray (left), 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)
So, as you can tell from the comparisons above there is an excellent amount of newfound detail here in 4K resolution and especially with the addition of HDR (high dynamic range) which really breathes new life into this 2009 film. Never have the textures of things looked so lifelike and the HDR only helps to make it all the better. The black level is perfectly solid here, like ink, despite being a type of animation that doesn’t use ink. Stop-motion animation makes for some of the best material to show off in the 4K resolution and this is one superb example of that. The colors here are just as vivid and realistic as one could possibly hope for. It’s obvious that the color corrections to meet with the HDR are downright flawless.
To make it somewhat short and simple, “Coraline” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is not only one of my favorite animated films but it is now one of my favorites in terms of 4K UHD video quality and as a result one of the first titles that I would pick off the shelf to test out a new 4K display or show one off to folks of any age. This film has such an amazing art style and I’ve always been a fan of it since it was first released on Blu-ray in 2009, so it really makes me happy to say that this earns a perfect 5 rating for overall video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Coraline” arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray in Dolby Atmos, with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core — for those not able to decode the Atmos. No other audio format options are included except for that new exclusive Dolby Atmos mix on the 4K disc. In fact, the included Blu-ray in this “combo pack” doesn’t even feature the Atmos mix but instead has a lossless 5.1 surround sound mix. This new Dolby Atmos sound mix comes as an improvement over the original 2009 Blu-ray and even the Shout! Factory Blu-ray which (as mentioned) had just lossless 5.1 surround sound mixes.
The first thing [if on a capable sound system] you will notice is the use of the height channel speakers now in Atmos. The film’s original musical score was picked to be mixed into the height channels first and foremost and it works very nicely. The sound effects are used appropriately for the height channels as well this time around with the new Atmos mix. It adds a lot to a sound mix that already felt to be fine in its previous 5.1 lossless configurations on the Blu-ray releases.
Dialogue is driven distinctly from the center channel speaker and there’s one very impressive amount of LFE to be felt via the subwoofer. This has great use of the rear channels as well, and that’s one thing that really made the original 5.1 surround mix so great for its time. Now, for those not listening in Atmos, in either 7.1 or 5.1 surround it has an excellent audio presentation as well. It all works together so well for this type of movie, with the music really helping drive things and even more so it feels to me with the addition of height channels to help emphasize the beautiful original score by Bruno Coulais.
All and all, “Coraline” on 4K UHD Blu-ray arrives with a new Dolby Atmos mix that certainly does the sound mix and movie equal justice, enough to earn it a perfect 5 rating for audio quality. The fans are certainly going to enjoy this audio upgrade if they’re on a sound system capable of experiencing it.
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
A Collectible Booklet is physically included inside with both the 4K UHD Blu-ray standard and 4K UHD Bluray Limited Edition SteelBook versions of the film.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray disc includes the following:
- Audio Commentary with Director Henry Selick And Composer Bruno Coulais
Then you also get a Blu-ray Disc included in this 2-disc “combo pack” set.
- The Blu-ray Disc includes the film using the new 4K remaster. This features a 1080p HD video presentation in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio as well as lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound. This is where you’ll find the true majority of the bonus materials, with only the audio commentary being included on the 4K disc (as listed further above) as well as here. One other note, this Blu-ray is Region A locked, whereas the 4K UHD Blu-ray theoretically is region free [to my knowledge].
Bonus materials included on the Blu-ray Disc are listed below. These are all in HD (high definition) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- Audio Commentary with Director Henry Selick And Composer Bruno Coulais
- “Inside LAIKA: Discovering the Characters of Coraline“ (10 minutes, 45 seconds – HD) includes lots of rough and finished stop-motion animation footage along with interviews with Henry Selick (director and screenwriter), Travis Knight (lead animator), Trey Thomas (lead animator), Brad Schiff (animator), Anthony Scott (animation supervisor), Phil Dale (lead animator), Suzanne Twining (animator), Amy Adamy (animator), and Julianna Cox (animator).
- “Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team” is split up into each character and these include interviews with animators (noted below):
- “The Beldam” (1 minute, 16 seconds – HD) with animator Phil Dale.
- “Mr. Bobinsky” (1 minute, 40 seconds – HD) with animator Brad Schiff.
- “The Cat” (1 minute, 12 seconds – HD) with animator Phil Dale.
- “Coraline Jones” (1 minute, 15 seconds – HD) with animator Brad Schiff.
- “Other Father” (1 minute, 5 seconds – HD) with animator Phil Dale.
- “Other Mother” (1 minute, 10 seconds – HD) with animator Phil Dale.
- “Wybie Lovat” (1 minute, 2 seconds – HD) with animator Brad Schiff.
- Feature-Length Storyboards (1 hour, 34 minutes, 2 seconds – HD) were originally included on the 2009 Blu-ray as a PIP (picture-in-picture) feature and now are full screen via this which gives you the entire film storyboarded out.
- “The Making of Coraline“ (36 minutes, 14 seconds – HD) was previously included with the original 2009 Blu-ray release. It can either be viewed at once via a play-all function or individually in chapters. This includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Henry Selick (director and screenwriter), Neil Gaiman (author of the “Coraline” novella), Maddy Gaiman (daughter of author Neil Gaiman), Tom Proost (art director), Dakota Fanning (“Coraline”), Jennifer Saunders (“Miss Spink”), Teri Hatcher (“Mother” and “Other Mother”), Dawn French (“Miss Forcible”), John Hodgman (“Father” and “Other Father”), Georgina Haynes (character fabrication supervisor), Jeremy Spake (armaturist), Suzanne Moulton (lead hair and fur fabricator), Deborah Cook (lead costume design fabricator), John Allan Armstrong (VFX animator), Aiden Fraser (senior compositor), Patrick Wass (senior compositor), Peter Vickery (senior compositor), Peter Kozachik, ASC (director of photography), Anthony Scott (supervising animator), Trey Thomas (lead animator), Suzanne Twining (animator), Phil Dale (lead animator), Travis Knight (lead animator), Bo Henry (art director), Matt Sanders (art director), and Bridget Phelan (set dresser).
- “Creepy Coraline“ (5 minutes, 3 seconds – HD) was previously included on the original 2009 Blu-ray release. This includes interviews with Henry Selick (director and screenwriter), Julianna Cox (animator), Dakota Fanning (“Coraline”), Teri Hatcher (“Mother” and “Other Mother”), Georgina Haynes (character fabrication supervisor), Deborah Cook (lead costume design fabricator), and Mattzilla Duron (mold maker).
- “Voicing the Characters” (10 minutes, 47 seconds – HD) was previously included on the original 2009 Blu-ray release. This includes interviews with Henry Selick (director and screenwriter), Dakota Fanning (“Coraline”), Keith David (“The Cat”), Robert Bailey, Jr. (“Wybie”), Teri Hatcher (“Mother” and “Other Mother”), John Hodgman (“Father” and “Other Father”), Ian McShane (“Mr. Bobinsky”), Jennifer Saunders (“Miss Spink”), and Dawn French (“Miss Forcible”).
- Deleted Scenes (8 minutes, 44 seconds – HD) were previously included with the original 2009 Blu-ray release. These include video introductions by the director & screenwriter Henry Selick for each scene.
- “Still Galleries” are split up into three categories. These play as a slideshow but you can use the chapter forward and backward buttons on your remote as well as pause to navigate if you’d like. The three galleries include:
- “Character Art” (2 minutes, 6 seconds – 25 images – HD)
- “Concept Art” (2 minutes, 6 seconds – 25 images – HD)
- “Behind the Scenes” (2 minutes, 6 seconds – 25 images – HD)
- Trailer (2 minutes, 29 seconds – HD)
Overall, the bonus materials are almost all of the same things you got on the original 2009 Blu-ray with a little more added. You get a total roughly of 180 minutes of extras here, not including the audio commentary track on both the 4K and Blu-ray Discs. There are some extras that did not get ported over from the previous 2009 Blu-ray that Universal originally released but those aren’t really a dealbreaker here, with those features like U-Control PIP (picture-in-picture) now seeming outdated and are available mostly in full-length form.
Lastly, those who owned the original 2009 Blu-ray that Universal Studios Home Entertainment released will remember that version also featured an optional old-school anaglyph 3-D presentation along with 4 pairs of 3D glasses. It’s a tad bit sad they opted to get rid of that but with the later introduction of Blu-ray 3D and use of that format on the later LAIKA Studios films, it made sense to not reproduce that for these later releases. It’s just something I felt worth noting when comparing the original Blu-ray extras to these found on the new 4K UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray release [from Shout Factory!]. Also, unlike the 2009 release on Blu-ray, this lacks a digital copy of the film. So, I have factored those things into my score for the bonus.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“Coraline” from 2009 is easily one of my favorite animated films ever made. It’s a film that was directed by a man [Henry Selick] who also did some of my other favorite modern stop-motion animated films as well. The story here which was originally written by Neil Gaiman and adapted by Selick just works so well. In fact, you could not have picked a better director and writer to handle this type of darker fantasy material. Plus Dakota Fanning as the voice of the lead [title] character was another perfect choice. This movie is a really trippy and heartfelt good time for both adults and a lot of fun as a fantasy with a message for younger audiences, which it is intended primarily for.
This was LAIKA Studios’ first feature-length major motion picture and it really holds up well in 4K beside other iconic animated films from the decade before like “Toy Story” (1995) or “Shrek” (2001) in comparison to CG (computer-generated animation) companies and their first films — in that case of those two as examples: Pixar and DreamWorks.
When you look at all of the work (so far) the folks at Laika have done since this, it’s downright amazing how much they as an animation company have accomplished. And it was clear this film that helped them get to the point where they are now. Coraline, as a film, all these years later holds up incredibly well and was the audience’s first example of what LAIKA Studios was capable of, which was a visually captivating stop-motion animation that makes for excellent escapism to those of all ages. Sure, this story as a movie could have been done in CG animation but it would have never been as cool as it was in stop-motion. That form of animation just adds so much more of a surreal feeling to the whole motion picture experience.
In terms of the reception from the critics upon its original 2009 release, Coraline was extremely well-rated. In fact, it has a “Certified Fresh” badge over at Rotten Tomatoes with (at the time of writing) a 90% rating. Also, over on IMDb, it has an 80 (out of 100) meta score based on critic reviews.
In terms of video quality, Coraline arrives to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format with one spectacular visual presentation. The new 4K remaster was done with supervision by LAIKA Studios, as I’ve mentioned before, and that really adds a lot. This is just stunning to witness the stop-motion animation at this level of resolution. It’s now so much clearer and the addition of HDR (high dynamic range) makes the overall color timing as it should have originally been but technology wouldn’t allow for when it was released to home video. This is downright reference material in terms of a video presentation for an animated movie.
In terms of audio quality, this offers a new Dolby Atmos mix that took an already impressive 5.1 lossless surround presentation and made it even better. The Atmos brings with it a tasteful mix of both music and sound effects also in the height channels which will downright amaze you very early on. This is the best this film has ever sounded and as I said it already was incredible.
Finally, on both the standard and SteelBook versions of the 4K UHD Blu-ray releases you’ll get a small booklet with photos and primarily a short retrospective and appreciation written by a film critic. Almost all of the original Blu-ray extras have been ported over with the exception of the PIP (picture-in-picture) features. You also get some great insight and behind-the-scenes extras produced by the folks at LAIKA Studios which really prove to be both informative as well as entertaining.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Highly Recommended Upgrade
2022 4K UHD Blu-ray Release
2022 4K UHD Blu-ray Limited Edition SteelBook Release
4K UHD Blu-ray Screenshots:
Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshots Comparison:
SOURCES: 2009 Blu-ray (left), 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)
4K UHD Blu-ray Technical Specifications:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Exact Runtime(s): 1:40:32
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), DTS 5.1
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Disc Size: BD-100
Disc Use: 79.34GB total / 70.6GB for the film
Video Bitrate: 85.4 Mb/s