Watched Aug 18, 2012
Andy Bartlett’s review:
Completely blown away by this movie. It's not remotely what you'd expect going in -- it's not one of those "kids" movies that has just enough double entendres and pop culture references from the '80s and '90s to keep adults interested. This is an incredibly dark movie about being a misunderstood kid that's probably OK to take your kids to see. I left Studio Laika's previous release, "Coraline," after having been completely engrossed in it as a visual spectacle wrapped around a pretty decent story; that was a release-day BluRay buy for me, and it's a movie I've watched many, many times.
ParaNorman ups the ante on both counts. Even knowing the general premise of "Norman can speak with the dead" that's rolled out in the film's trailers, the story goes places that you'll never expect -- when I say this movie is incredibly dark, it's not hyperbole; the first five minutes or so of the film are almost depressing, but it's a fantastic setup for the rest of the movie. And the crafters have definitely improved their model-building skills from Coraline; the environments are ridiculously detailed, the characters seem to have more expressive faces, everything just looks amazing. As with Coraline, it's almost impossible to believe you're looking at stop-motion video of a real, constructed environment and not incredibly well-done animation -- particularly with some of the smoke effects and the appearance of the antagonist in the third act. It's an astonishingly beautiful movie.
Can't speak highly enough of ParaNorman, really. I absolutely, completely loved it.
-- theater viewing (2D)