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ParaNorman 4K UHD Steelbook Review

“ParaNorman” is an underrated LAIKA film.

Directed by Sam Fuller and Chris Butler and written by Chris Butler, “ParaNorman” is a 2012 stop-motion animation film from LAIKA Studios. The story, which is very much an homage to horror films and the Salem Witch trials, is set in Blithe Hollow, MA and focuses on the titular Norman who has the ability to speak to the dead (although no one believes him). Due to this ability, he is judged by his family and is more of a loner (although he does make a friend named Neil). After meeting his great uncle, Norman discovers he must perform a ritual to protect the town from its dark past involving the murder of an alleged witch. Alas, the ritual is interrupted by a bully (Avin) and soon all hell breaks loose when the dead arise and the presence of a witch looms over the town. Can Norman save the day?

As someone that grew up on children’s horror in the early 90’s such as “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?,”, it’s always a joy to see horror and horror comedies animed at a younger audience. “ParaNorman” definitely fits that bill. Not only is it a spooky tale that references everything from “Halloween” to “Day Of The Dead,” but it’s a witch tale with something on its mind. Despite being released 10 years ago now, the strong themes and allegories of teenage life feel even more fresh than they did in 2012. The story’s exploration of death, family, sins of the past, mob rule, history repeating itself, outcasts, acceptance, and bullying really resonate here. It may be a little too ambitious for a single movie, but it works. In these troubled times, it’s inspiring to see a story like this let alone one that ends on a decidedly human level with an outcast confronting a fellow outcast (Aggie) who has been consumed by fear and hate and is turning into everything her murderers were. Sure, there’s plenty of fun dark humor, sight gags, and horror antics (especially with zombies) sprinkled throughout, but it’s what’s going on underneath that makes an impression.

LAIKA’s animation work is breathtaking (as it always is). The detailed town design, the character models, and all the little set details (Norman’s room especially) never cease to amaze me. LAIKA are truly masters of the stop-motion animation craft. 

Cast wise, a hugely talented voice cast was assembled for this film with the likes of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Bernard Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Truthfully, everyone listed fits the part extremely well. You can’t imagine anyone else voicing the roles.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.40:1 2160p. How does it look? The 4K restoration dazzles here. The colors are richer and the ability to notice the tiniest of details has been amplified.

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? Expect a clean and layered new audio track.

Extras:

* A booklet with photos and a piece by Bill Desowitz
* Commentary by Sam Fell and Chris Butler (on the 4K and Blu-ray).
* Feature-length storyboards.
* Character art, concept art and behind the scenes still galleries.
* “Paranorman” trailer.
* 2 “Inside LAIKA” extras. The first is “Discovering The Characters And Effects Of Paranorman” which explores the production and use of CGI and the 2nd is “Revisiting The Puppets With LAIKA’s Animation Team” which showcases some of the character puppets.
* “Peering Through The Veil: Behind The Scenes Of Paranorman”- A 9 part making of extra that covers the voice cast, puppets, the world and more.
* “You Don’t Become A Hero By Being Normal”- Cast and crew interviews with discussions about the characters.
* “A Norman Childhood”- A personal interview with Chris Butler and “Playing As A Profession” is an interview with Sam Fell.
* “Making Norman”- A video showing the creation of a Norman puppet.
* “This Little Light”- A video showing the work that goes into making a single light.
* “Have You Ever Seen A Ghost?”- The cast and crew talk about paranormal experiences.
* “The Zombies Of Paranorman” explores the making of the zombie characters.

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December 23, 2022 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , ,

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