MOVIE REVIEW – In the midst of Pixar’s success, 3D computer animation has been more popular in the last few years than ever before. In fact, out of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, seven of those are 3D animated movies (three of those being Pixar films). That siad, two different animation forms have slowly withered away: 2D hand drawn animation and clay-mation.
ParaNorman revives this sparsely seen medium in a beautifully crafted homage to the grindhouse/comic book genre. It tells the story of a young outcast who is shunned for his self-proclaimed ability to interact with the deceased. After a local legend unleashes a curse upon his hometown, it’s up to Norman to use his abilities to save not only his town, but the souls of the dead from catastrophe.
One thing that caught my eye with ParaNorman is the stylistic approach to the feel of the movie. Norman is seen watching a poorly made horror movie in the opening scene, which tells me these filmmakers really wanted to infuse this movie with campy, comic bookish visuals. This is a movie that will be appreciated by artists of all variations. Mixing the classic claymation art form with captivating computer visuals.
The story is one that I accepted as creatively original, but timed awkwardly. The movie has a great opening act, but lasts a little bit longer than it needs to. Once the ball gets rolling on the main conflict, the story stretches out to fit the hour and a half feature film mold, but it becomes too thin during many points. The slower moments in the movie are painted over with humorous characters and goofy hijinks, which will definitely appeal to the younger viewers. For adults, this movie will keep you laughing, but the laughs can only keep you entertained for so long before you become aggravated with searching for the substance in the plot.
Being a huge fan of the horror movie genre, I was pleased with a lot of the imagery in ParaNorman. There were even moments that made me consider whether this movie was even suitable for children. ParaNorman definitely has its dark moments and scary visuals and to be honest there was a moment or two where I actually jumped. However, this shouldn’t be discouraging to parents. I love the idea of horror movies for kids. It’s a way for children to enjoy horror movies without being exposed to hyper violence and sex. Just make sure the kids can take a few jumpy scares.
ParaNorman will be a treat for kids and adults alike. For film fanatics and graphic artists, ParaNorman will be eye candy that will trigger the artistic, right-brained salivary glands.
The De La Cruz Designation: 3.5 pops out of 5
Movie Notes: If you enjoy the claymation in ParaNorman. Check out “Nightmare Before Christmas” and the live action-clay hybrid “James and the Giant Peach”.
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