While I'm a bit sad I missed Coraline in its 3-D glory on the big screen, I was definitely glad to catch it on DVD. It's directed by Henry Selick, and I'm a fan of his past work on The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.
The best part of Coraline is definitely the visuals. The movie has meticulous animation, and I think it would take several viewings to truly appreciate all that is within each frame. The story is also delightfully creepy. When watching the movie, I was reminded of Alice in Wonderland and Pan's Labyrinth. It's about a spunky preteen who finds a passage into an alternate world (where everyone has very creepy button eyes) that quickly turns from idyllic to horrifying.
I also liked how Coraline didn't feel the need to be overly heartwarming. While I appreciate the real emotion Pixar puts into its movies, I was pleased that Coraline chose frights and visual splendor as its main goals. While I enjoyed the transitions between the real world and the alternate world, there were a few moments where I thought the pacing seemed a bit off. That's a minor quibble, though, for a movie that was a lot of fun.