I saw Coraline in 3D last night, and I loved it, despite feeling worn out by the end of the night, overly satiated. As if I had eaten too much marzipan, had feasted overlong on too rich a meal. Was it beautiful, creative, a work of passion and devotion? Was it a paean to Neil Gaiman’s novella, a testament to what the human mind can create when it bends to a task with both love and dedication? Oh yes, yes indeed.

Where to begin? Perhaps I could discuss how evident it was that each and every facet of this film, each element that appeared on the screen was meticulously made, and reflected the precision and attention that the creators had lavished on this production. It’s true. The sets are gorgeous, vividly colored and fantastically arrayed with things to gaze upon. I felt like a kid wandering through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, unable to fix my eyes on one thing without being distracted by the next.

And the voices! Serious props to Dakota Fanning, John Hodgman and Terri Hatcher. They were seamless, perfect, such that you simply forgot that real people were speaking and believed that the dolls onscreen were talking, their tonal emotions perfectly reflected on their faces.

Or that the additions Henry Selick inserted into Gaiman’s rather slender novella worked. This was my main concern–how would they flesh out such a trim plot into a feature movie length? Suffice to say that what was inserted was definitely in synch with what Gaiman created, and that the deletions, while painful, were gracefully done and necessary. Though I still wish they’d kept the Other Father in the basement scene. Ah well!

I did leave the theater feeling dazed, however. I think a large part of it was eye strain. I found myself flipping up my 3D glasses to gaze at the screen and just relax my corneas. After an hour and a half of refocusing and straining I was beat. It was never actually uncomfortable, and what little discomfort I felt was mitigated by the beautiful wonders on the screen, but still–there it is. And to be sure, that eyeball fatigue influenced my opinion of the movie.

But yes. Henry Selick and his team of wizards have taken Gaiman’s tale and worked wonders on the screen. This is one for the DVD collection, but be sure to watch it in theaters. You’ll want to see the magic in as large a format as possible.