There are exceptions to this however and fortunately Coraline is one such. Granted, it's been a few years since I read the book so I can't readily identify what changes, if any, were made. But if memory serves, script was kept very close to the original story even to the point where my sister and I had vague recollections of a certain plot point and were wondering if they were going to include it. It could have easily been cut, the main story had been resolved. But a moment later the event in question occurred. So kudos to them for accuracy!
Another aspect the movie succeeds in is capturing the magic of Coraline's nightly visits to the through-looking-glass type home of her Other Mother. The parallel version of her home is alternately charming (a dinner table that operates like a toy train set, a garden of glowing flowers) and creepy (everyone except Coraline had buttons for eyes, insect-shaped furniture). Even her neighbors' apartments get a nocturnal transformation giving her a world beyond her "home" to discover. Coraline's explorations have a dream like quality in that small elements from her daily life become incorporated into the night world of the Other Mother. When you consider that the movie was made by hand (I think I read that only the faces were animated by computer?) it staggering to imagine how the creators staged each scene and articulated each detail.
The soundtrack is childlike and eerie, reminding me of Sigur Ros and Guillermo Del Toro's Labyrinth. At least three characters sing as part of the story which could have been annoying, but turned out to be cute.
A large part of the success of the movie is because of Neil Gaiman. He is one of my favorite authors of all time. Gaiman crafts worlds using motifs and mythologies we are all familiar with while making them feel remarkably fresh and completely his own. ( I would be tempted to say that in this tale he borrows from Hansel and Gretel as well as Alice in Wonderland.) His wild imagination lends itself to big screen interpretation. On another note, I don't think I would ever call myself a feminist, but it is very satisfying to me that Coraline is a resilient and clever female protagonist. If you haven't read the novel I highly recommend it.
Usually I hate rewatching movies that I've seen recently (I need at least a year to forget the details enough to make it worth seeing again) but I will definitely try to see Coraline again while it is still in theaters. Paying a few dollars extra for the 3-D version is well worth it but I think the movie probably looks just as good on the "flat screen".
Coraline in the Rain - by pandabot on Polyvore.com
Starry Coraline - by pandabot on Polyvore.com
Coraline at the Mouse Circus - by pandabot on Polyvore.com