‘ParaNorman’ Review

“”ParaNorman,” particularly its story, is not as innovative as its animation, though it often uses established tropes in an interesting fashion.”

Chris Butler and Sam Fell‘s “ParaNorman” is an interesting film primarily for two reasons:  The first is that it’s made in stop-motion, a painstaking method of animation that involves figures built upon a metal armature, which are moved a small increment at a time, then filmed.  When the frames are combined, the motion appears fluid.

While stop-motion animation in and of itself isn’t new, the way the film makers approach it is.  They also made extensive use of 3D printing, which enabled them to create hundreds of very individual expressions for the characters, in a minimal amount of time.

Which is a good thing because even with such techniques it took about two-and-a-half years to bring “ParaNorman” to the screen.

An innovation that was brought to the story was that the ghosts and revenants are less sinister than simply out of place.  They’re there because there’s a task, while they lived, that they neglected or left unfinished, and are unable to move on until it’s completed. It reminds of of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” though unlike the ghosts that Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) was unfortunate enough to see, the dead of “ParaNorman” are almost welcoming, and appear to be grateful to be seen by anyone.

In fact, Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from “ParaNorman” has more in common with the dead than the living, who spend most of their time either ignoring or mocking him.  Misunderstood by both his family–who think he’s weird–and his peers–who also don’t understand him–the non-living are the closest things that he has to friends.

The animation of the characters is more modernistic than that of Pixar, as are some of the themes and messages of the film.  Speaking of which, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a great film for children younger than twelve, because it’s a little dark, and might seem a might long.

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