Teri Hatcher

Puppett Master

C oraline uses 3-D as a vehicle of artistic delight. The writer-director, Henry Selick, hewing closely to Neil Gaiman's novel, employs it not for cheap thrills but for wonder. The combination of 3-D photography and puppet-animation - centered on actual figures designed by hand and manipulated frame by frame - creates a world that's dense, active and fluid: a sensory Jacuzzi.

When Selick's independent-minded heroine, 11-year-old Coraline, follows a path through a tiny, square door into a house that looks mysteriously like her own, the tunnel she crawls through functions like Alice's rabbit hole or Dorothy Gale's cyclone. The difference between Coraline and those other fantasies is...