ParaNorman, Blu-ray (2012)

by | Jan 19, 2013 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

ParaNorman, Blu-ray (2012)

Voices: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affeck, Tucker Albrizzi, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Elaine Stritch
Directors: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Studio: Laika/ Focus Features/ Universal 62123586 [11/27/12] (Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy, Ultraviolet) [2 discs]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or DD 5.1, French & Spanish DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
All regions code
Extras: Commentary track with Chris Butler and Sam Fell, Preliminary animatic sequences, 7 featurettes on The Making of ParaNorman, “Peering Through the Veil: Go Behind the Scenes,” BD Live, Previews, My scenes, D-BOX, Pocket BLU app
Length: 186 min.
Rating: ****

Norman sees dead people (including his grandmother) and this doesn’t freak him out in the least—just his classmates at high school. This is a terrific stop-motion effort from the people who made Coraline, and in the extras it is explained how the age-old stop-motion animation was brought up to date using the latest computer CGI and even 3D printers for the various emotional depictions of the small characters’ faces.

Norman is constantly harassed at school, but must use his special powers to save his town (patterned after Salem, MA) from a centuries-old curse of a little girl who was killed as a witch. There’s plenty of advanced creepiness—especially in the zombies—which may be too much for some youngsters. I thought it was considerably creepier and with less heart than Frankenweenie. 

The work with the various stylized characters is painstaking, to say the least. One of the extras shows how they use a 3D printer to create the multiple faces required to show emotions on the face of the characters., combining age-old animation with the latest technology.  ParaNorman also makes use of more CGI effects than does Frankenweenie. The parts with the zombies gets pretty intense, but then I’m not into zombies, so that may part of it. The plot covers the bit of children not being understood or accepted by their parents, the bullying of children by their peers, and there is a bit near the end where the hunky brother of Norman’s one friend doesn’t seem interested in Norman’s sexy older sister, but then reveals he has a boyfriend.  The weird uncle of Norman (voiced by John Goodman) seems a bit too much like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. It’s not a bad story line and the stylization of all the not-beautiful characters is superb. The idea of forgiveness realized by the town council of 300 years earlier for killing of one who they thought was a witch is well presented. Though it could have been shorter, with less of the zombies shuffling around.

Again, a fairly large scale was used and the depth and detail of the scenes is remarkable. The designers assured that there isn’t a straight line in the entire set or characters, which caused much consternation on the builders and craftspeople. Norman’s parents’ car, for example is higher on the right side—where his father drives—than it is on the left, where his mother is seated.

—John Sunier

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