Movie #192 2020: ParaNorman (2012)

From the animation studio who brought you Missing Link and Coraline comes ParaNorman, a sci-fi, fantasy children’s animated thriller… oh, and there’s some comedy too. Basically, Laika Studios look like they want to introduce kids to every genre under the sun, and that’s not a bad thing.

In this original movie, young protagonist Norman Babcock can speak to the dead. Being the nerdy school boy that he is, no one really believes that his ability is real, but he quickly learns that he must recite an ancient ritual before a curse is put on his hometown. The brilliant thing about this is, the dead are raised before he can complete his quest, resulting in some fun, animated zombies coming to the screen for all to see.

I’ve said this before so here it is again: Stop motion animation is an insane talent. Making an entire 90 minute movie using only stop motion? Even more impressive. Tristan Oliver is credited as the cinematographer for ParaNorman – the guy who was also responsible for Wes Anderson‘s animated movies, Isle of Dogs and Fantastic Mr. Fox, plus many more prominent films. Oliver’s repertoire of bringing animated (and specifically stop motion) films to life is clearly becoming more coveted, and it’s easy to see why.

Whilst we’re on the subject, the most impressive thing about this film is it’s cinematography. It’s almost recorded like a live action movie would be, and there are some real interesting, deep shots that enhance the 3D nature of it all. Though the crew of animators really do set the bar high with ParaNorman, it’s the way that it is filmed that really impresses.

Though there is no doubt that kids would disagree, I just couldn’t really get on board with the subject matter of this. Zombies are all over the face of film and television recently and it’s just getting a little bit tedious in my opinion. The movie takes a while to get going too, but once it does, there are some really funny moments within it. As the sister of Norman, Anna Kendrick brings her comedy chops to the film, as does Casey Affleck as the surprise gay jock, and they end up bringing the funniest performances of the lot.

Another aspect that stood out as being overwhelmingly successful is the score. In fact, the score for this movie is so outstanding that I can’t really remember another animated film that does music so well. At the time, I didn’t realise it was all the work of Jon Brion (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch Drunk Love) but now everything makes sense – he is such a high calibre musician, and he brings his all to this film.

Technically, this movie was very, very good. The stop motion animation, the score, the cinematography? All outstanding. Sadly for me, the subject matter just didn’t hit the spot for me, despite the charm of it all.

Don’t listen to me though; I’m an adult.

ParaNorman is available to stream on Sky Go and Now TV in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
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