Chopping Block Review: ParaNorman


Review by Nolan P. Smith-Pastrami Nation

I have seen trailers for ParaNorman since last year. When I saw the first one, which had a very odd song choice for the trailer and nothing to really grab the audience, I thought it was an easy pass. Then, the more I saw of the film, including the giant witch head in the sky, it made me want to actually give the film a shot. So, does this animated feature have a story as great as the animation looks, or is it a script that should have remained in the grave?

ParaNorman comes from Laika, Inc., the studio responsible for the 2009 animated film, Coraline. So, of course, the stop motion animation looks amazing. But what about the story? Our hero of the film is Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a kid who can see and communicate with ghosts. Now, being the weird kid is always tough, and being the weird kid that sees ghosts is even tougher. Befriended by fellow social outcast Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Norman’s life gets even stranger when his distant uncle (John Goodman) comes with a bizarre warning that Norman must step up to protect his town. Protect from what? A witch that was convicted of, well, witchcraft, and killed in the very town Norman lives in many years ago. This is where the film picks up, and it really does an outstanding job of telling a compelling story.

Now, ParaNorman has another thing going for it, and that is that it takes advantage of the 3D craze going around. Being the first stop motion film to use color 3D printers, this colorful and imagination filled world really pops with the 3D glasses. Remember, the 3D these days is meant to give the film a sense of depth, and for ParaNorman, it exceeds that aspect easily. This is definitely a film go the extra mile on and see in glorious 3D.

All in all, for an animated film, it did have some more mature themes in it, but it also had some important life lessons and an amazing ending. The story is original, the characters are memorable, and the zombies look great on screen; what more can you ask for? One of the best animated films this year, make sure to catch ParaNorman at theaters while you still can.

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