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ParaNorman More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Last 30 minutes the best

Author: ihopetherespudding from United Kingdom
29 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw ParaNorman in 2D earlier on today and I have to say, for a kids' film, and an animated one at that, considering that type of genre nowadays, it was pretty good. Not the best but definitely one of the better ones I've seen. The basic story is about a kid called Norman Babcock who can talk to the dead. Several hundred years before, a witch put a curse on the town and because Norman is the only one who can talk to the dead, he is the only one who can save the town and undo the curse. The first hour is just okay. It isn't brilliant and some of the jokes do fall flat(I.E, Norman saying to Neil who's kissing his dog's ghost that it's not his chin) but hey, it's a kid's film, what do you expect? One joke I did enjoy was when Norman was talking to the ghosts, I noticed that the gangster ghost was surrounded by fish, jokes with that sort of subtlety are great. The last half an hour for me, were definitely the best. This is when everything gets going, the zombies come alive, Norman meets the witch, it is just a lot of fun. The zombie car chase scene isn't as exciting as I thought but the animation is great,so are the colours and the story is a lot of fun. Horror fans or anyone who likes Coraline or that sorta thing will definitely get a kick out of this. And anyone who doesn't, will still get a kick out of it. Overall, a fun and entertaining way to kill a few hours at the cinema.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A great movie that shows that animated does not equal suitable for kids

Author: waldwuffel-1 from Ger
24 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You should not go into this movie expecting a movie along the lines of Coraline, another stop-motion animated feature by Laika. While it does share the spooky, creepy tone of its predecessor, it is completely different in both tone and pacing. Alas, it is similar in structure and narration, and it can be viewed as a more light-hearted spiritual successor to Coraline. Coraline was a great feature - and is amongst my favorite movies of all time -, but it has a much slower pace, fewer characters and a stronger focus on Coraline. Paranorman is about a young teen named Norman, who is a social outcast because he as the ability to see and speak to ghosts, of which there are plenty in his small town which is heavily inspired by Salem, MA and its rich tradition about the famous witch trials that took place there in the late 17th century. Of course, nobody believes him, neither his parents, nor his shallow cheerleader sister Courtney, and it makes him a well suited target for the school bully Alvin. As it turns out, this ability runs in his family, as his equally awkward uncle informs him, and for a good reason: Every year, this man goes to the witch's grave and reads her a story to put her back to sleep, so the curse she put on the people who sentenced her to death don't rise from their grave. Without wanting to spoil the story too far, of course, Norman has to face his fate and go up agains the witch... and the townspeople, who are scared by the sudden presence of the undead. Fear is a main plot element in this movie, but not in the sense that this movie is scary. At least not for adults. The movie is cheerfully spooky, much like you would feel on a Halloween-party. What I really liked about the movie is its pacing: It is a fast past movie that does not waste time on unimportant details, but takes its time when appropriate, especially in character development. The roles could not be more stereotypical when it comes to horror movies, but you will soon come to realize that, while it cannot be considered an exploitation or a mockery, it plays with those clichés and when you think you have the plot figured out, they throw you a curve ball and lead it into a different direction, without giving you the feeling they pull things out of a hat. It pays tribute to classic horror scenarios, A and B movies (Halloween being one of the most prominent), but finds its own way and place in this genre. It is not a horror movie. It is not really a comedy, even though you'll have plenty to laugh about. Action is used in small doses, so you still have to - and can! - pay attention to the story and the characters. As for the technical part, I do think this movie sets new standards for stop motion pictures, as Coraline did before. The animation is much, much smoother than in Coraline. What really takes the prize is the facial animation. Not only for stop motion standards, but for animation standards in general, the characters' expressions are so well detailed and unique that I can only imagine what a piece of work it must have been to animate it. Especially since there is a huge amount of different characters involved, and a lot more scenes involving many at the same time. As a final note, I would like to add that, like Coraline, it is not a movie suitable for little children. Like Coraline, the movie has a darker tone, that, even when considering the lighter, more comedic approach, is very suitable to scare children and giving them nightmares. There is zombies, ghosts, witches, dark forests and loads of creepy sounds. Even more so, children will have trouble following the plot, and will of course not be able to get all the nods towards classic horror movies. If you are a parent, think twice before taking your children to see this movie. Not because it is bad, but it might be too much for your kids. Again, people need to see animated movies of all kind as an art form that is not necessarily geared towards a young audience, and this movie is a prime example that animated does not equal suitable for kids.


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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

a charmingly spooky family film that serves up unexpected depth and a delicious visual experience

Author: tbmforclasstsar from United States
21 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Appearances aren't everything; of this, I'm well aware. But when it comes to film and television, really, they can't hurt. Take director Tim Burton, for example. Personally, I love the guy, but even I'll admit that (especially as of late) his films don't quite surpass the masses' (or even my) expectations. That's not to say his movies are terrible, if anything they retain some redeeming qualities as a result of their artistic flair—for me, at least, the director's style is always the one aspect of his work that never fails to impress, even if it has recently become a bit redundant. Then there are shows like AMC's Mad Men. More than anything, I love the show for its incredible substance, but it's also one of my favorites because it's the one show I watch that's always so damn pretty to look at.

That's part of the reason a film like ParaNorman attracts me in the first place—because, physically, it just looks so great. The fact that it's stop motion animation excites me on so many levels; I've mentioned on the site before that I find this style of animation to be one of my absolute favorites—the look and feel of these films is wonderfully unique, and the vision and patience of their filmmakers are downright admirable. Likewise, the fact that ParaNorman is also one of the most ambitious stop motion films I've seen simply reaffirms my faith in the art of movies. Action sequences, car chases, special effects—surely none of these are easy feats for a film comprised of pictures of puppets, but the talented and dedicated individuals over at LAIKA and Focus Features (the same team that brought us 2009's Coraline), despite their two long years of work, make it look nothing short of effortless (and I didn't even have to see it in 3D to think so!).

What's even nicer about this film is that not only does it offer up a healthy serving of visual artistry, it also proves it's got an entertaining little story to go along with it. Taking place in the fictional Blithe Hollow, a Salem-esque New England town with an affinity for witch-hunting paraphernalia, ParaNorman follows the eerily charming Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), an offbeat boy obsessed with zombie flicks and possessed with the unnatural ability to communicate with the dead. Ostracized by the town, bullied by his peers, and even feared by his family for his strange ability, Norman struggles through his days alone and friendless, until one afternoon his crazy Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) tells him of the evil witch's curse, one that only he's capable of subduing. Teaming up with an unlikely crew (voiced by the likes of Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Anna Kendrick, and Casey Affleck), Norman finds himself face-to- face with the real walking dead as he attempts to put an end to the curse and save all those who doubt him.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

ParaNorman is a fun horror story for the whole family (maybe not those under age 10)

Author: mvciafardini from United States
20 August 2012

In the vein of iconic monster/adventure properties like The Monster Squad, Scooby-Doo even The Iron Giant comes Laika's follow-up to their hit film Coraline. ParaNorman, is a fantastically intricate stop-motion (or "stop-frame" to you film fans in the UK) animated film that follows Norman, a young boy who is more than a little obsessed with the macabre he can actually see and communicate with ghosts. He takes it all in stride but is most definitely an outcast but like all great outcasts, he's destined to save the day because of his eccentricities. It's a common story but from the mind of Chris Butler, this more or less familiar theme is spun just enough and is 'wonky' enough to become a rather compelling and highly distinctive genre mashing fare.

ParaNorman was inspired by, among 80′s classics like The Goonies and many Amblin era films, but this story, a sort of John Carpenter meets John Hughes, looks like all of the its inspirations were thrown in a blender and the product was this deliciously fun film. Besides the nods to and framework of the the films that this derives inspiration from, ParaNorman is a film with a lot going on and mostly it comes down to themes. So many in fact, there's almost a theme for every zombie or pitchfork running through this frenzied film. There's a loner/social outcast theme, a bully theme, a distant/misunderstood family theme, and then of course the tropes and set ups to make this a simultaneous horror/comedy/family film (though regarding the inherent degree of horror, even in "claymation", is not an automatic recommendation for little kids). But as odd as the events depicted and the hats worn in the picture, this hybrid, for lack of a better word, works.

Voice acting in animated films has gotten better just as the animation itself has grown by leaps an bounds. Just 5 years ago, the draw to an animated film (CG or otherwise) seemed to be just the caliber of A- lister attached. Now that animated films are way more abundant the idea here is not the who, but more who's right for the character. In this respect, Butler and Fell's inspired casting nearly outshines their superior animation efforts. Kodi Smit-McPhee simply nails the role of Norman but as great as his turn in the titular role, he's given help form an amazing supporting cast. One great take away from the film is that while the rag tag team of misfits saving the day looks like something you've seen before, the cast is really quite the opposite. Having the likes of Casey Affleck playing a jock and Christopher Mintz- Plas (McLovin!) as a bully are both brilliant casting choices but also just outside the typical sort of casting that. Instead each non-typical voice in the film gives their character immense depth and emotion.

With all the great animation and wonderfully dreary character designs, the story has a real message and this is not just a film to bring in the kids (again this isn't recommended for kids under say 10 at the very least). There is a series of morals that as subtle as a brick or an after-school special run the gamut from all you need is love, to friendship is its own reward to go easy on the little guy/odd ball to believing in yourself. Yet, in what could be called a bold move for a so called kids movie, is the idea that those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Further this notion is brilliantly expanded upon by showing that it's not zombies who are monsters but the humans in general. In an absurd but original approach we find sympathy for the zombies. It's a nice turn to show that people are crazier and more evil than the walking dead and how fear leads us to very rash decisions. Moreover, if we don't snap out of our knee-jerk attitudes and try to learn about the things that scare us, we too will give into fear becoming monsters ourselves. It's a bit heavy handed and force-fed but still entirely relate-able.

The challenges Norman faces are bound to be understood by most kids which is just one of the ways that the films' story transcends the setting. In a film void of anything with a pulse Chris Butler and Sam Fell place the macabre events against the backdrop of very tangible and empathetic human element. Yet ParaNorman is not a story about feeling bad for the main (or any) character. It's about following someone on a journey while the whole time championing the idea that "it's OK to be who you are". Yet another in the countless "a hero will rise" narrative storytelling, what really sets ParaNorman apart is the method in which the story is told. It's a likable bunch of more or less oddballs and rejects who band together and beyond that it's the artistic merit that really takes this to another level. From impressive chase scenes, to colorful story to incredibly detailed scenery and entirely unique set/character design, ParaNorman is a real treat.

Marc Ciafardini of

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Imaginative, entertaining film, with a heart.

Author: mauriciocalderonmora from México
19 August 2012

I confess that, at first, by watching this film's trailer and publicity, I felt a complete desire to get away from it.

Nevertheless I went to see it to the theater convinced by a beautiful girl. It was my great surprise to see a film that is imaginative, as well as intelligent, with great humor for kids and adults. It pays homage to B horror movies and classics and uses stop- motion animation stylishly well.

It is funny, it has a simple, yet entertaining story, with great pace. It also has a great score by Jon Brion, which combined with the images in some sequences, made me had goosebumps of joy.

But, above all, the film has a heart, which is uncommon to see nowadays in the regular commercial cinema. Very recommendable.

Go see it with your kids, or with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or with your dad, or with a beautiful girl (just like I did). All family is in for a good time.

Especially if some of you like stop-motion, zombie or B horror movies, or even if you see them just to have fun of them.

I thank her very much for taking me to see this wonderful and fun film.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Clever, Funny, and Insightful

Author: aharmas from United States
19 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Paranorman" is one special film, one that dares mix genres, doesn't talk down to its audience, and it's most likely to have people talking about it afterward because of the way it looks and its content. It is a film that younger children will probably not fully understand because it deals with a variety of themes that can be a bit controversial and have rarely been seen in children's movies. However, it certainly deals with important issues in contemporary society, and bullying comes to mind quiet clearly.

"Norman" is no ordinary boy. He has "the gift" of communicating with dead beings. Something that, we soon discover, is the source of constant harassment and pain for him. It is also the ability that might save his town later on as the community finds itself at the mercy of supernatural beings.

This film is a rarity because it is not afraid to a diversity of characters in an honest way. The community is diverse, and you can see this in the opening scenes, as we follow Norman's interaction with several members of his town. Norman is very sweet and has no evil or resentful thoughts. He is frustrated and sad because he is misunderstood. His parents tolerate him but don't believe him. He seems to have no friends at first, but then he meets a couple of outsider and together, they need to find a way to save the world.

Norman and the children in this film speak and interact like normal preteens or teenagers. I liked the way these fabulous creations try to reenact elements of our contemporary society. People should look at this film carefully and be prepared to answer a few questions on why society is such a frail unit, as its members are constantly in disagreement about and how to fix their problems.

"Paranorman" will charm most of its audience because its message is gently presented. Watching these zombies is not scary, finding out how society deals with them is what parents might have problems explaining. Learning the source of the entire crisis will also shock a few people with its messages. You will be laughing but thinking about what you see on the screen, wondering why it has not been explored before this way before.

Nearly 40 years ago, "Bewitched" had people from all over the country laughing at the ordeals of Samantha and her husband. There are similar aspects in both, the film and this TV series, but Norman's heart is full of innocence and genuine love. He wants to heal what's damaged. "Norman" is beautifully produced and full of remarkable vocal talent. I was very impressed at how moving it was. Great film.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Paranorman Review

Author: arnold kumar (TheConnoisseurReviews) from United States
24 September 2012

The movie is about finding yourself and being more tolerant towards people that are different in opinion or appearance than you. Great messages that have been done a dozen time before, but there is nothing wrong with that. The film is also an homage and parody to classic horror movies. From making fun of their structure to embracing it for laughs, the movie does a great job of being original while not forgetting its roots.

"Paranorman" is very well directed. It is a stable for stop-motion films and what is possible with the medium. From impressive camera angles and shots to the fluidity of motion on the character, I almost thought I was watching a CGI film. The directors also do a great job of throwing you a curve ball. Right when you think were the movie is headed something happens and it is a pleasant surprise keeping you on your toes. The film starts off slow, but gradually gets better and it concludes with an epic ending, filled with great animation, effects, and music Writing is fairly strong, some of the jokes don't work, but they are far and in between.

Characters are mostly archetypes of characters that have been done before. However, they are still funny and charming throughout the film. Norman is the main character, who has a hard time fitting in. However we can relate to him, but he has this annoying character trait about him that can me grating. He seems isolate himself so much that even when someone wants to be his friend, he pushes them away. Neil is Norman's friend and the comic relief of the films, however he does bring some heart to the table. Courtney is Normans sister and the typical valley girl, who only thinks about being popular and guys. She's good, but not one of the more memorable characters. Alvin is the bully, he has his moments. Mitch is Neil's brother and probably the most hilarious part of the movie. The zombies are funny too, but don't have a unique personality. Overall the characters are good and fill in their archetypes well, while still bringing some original personality.

Animation is gorgeous in this film. Each character moves so fluidly, it felt as if I was watching a CGI film. The overall look of the film is charming and brings back some nostalgia. The musical score is great. Starts of very subtle, but is amazing near the end with the visual effects. This film is a stable in terms of its animation for stop-motion films.

Overall "Paranorman" is a fantastic movie, the best animated movie of the year and in my opinion the best stop-motion movie I've ever seen. Sure the characters and the story are sort of generic, but the directors know how to through a curve ball into the mix and keep the audience on their toes. The conclusion is brilliant and I love how they throw in something new for a character in the end. I give it a 4.5/5, fantastic animation, surprising twists, and great musical score.

"Fetch Status"

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

I Expected More

Author: Tom Gooderson-A'Court ( from United Kingdom
15 September 2012

The first of three hotly anticipated horror/comedy/stop motion kids films we'll see in the coming weeks and coming three years after Laika's success with Coraline, ParaNorman begins with a flourish which sets it up to be an interesting and funny family film. Unfortunately it runs out of steam after about fifty minutes when the jokes dry up and the predictable plot takes over from what had been a fun, film which takes a surprisingly candid look at death.

The world of ParaNorman is very well animated and in a similar style to Coraline, only this time in colour. I'm a huge fan of stop motion but I like the Ray Harryhausen or Arden style where you can actually see thumb prints and the design process. It's an odd criticism but for me the animation is a little too neat and smooth. One of the great benefits stop motion has over GCI or hand drawn cartoons is that it is extremely adaptable and movements should show that. When animation and effects are of the standard of ParaNorman it makes me wonder why stop motion puppets were used in the first place.

The opening half especially is littered with witty jokes and references to the likes of Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist and Friday the 13th for the parents while the kids could enjoy sight gags and the odd joke which only the children in the audience found funny. The 'stopping a curse with a band of unlikely heroes' plot was a bit naff and provided nothing new or particularly exciting except for one thing. I really liked the zombie's arc and though I won't spoil it, it's the narrative highlight of the film. There is one other surprise line late on which got some laughs and will no doubt draw some attention from the Christian Right but everything else is formulaic and re-hashed. I don't know if it is a response to the film or the fault of a Saturday lunchtime screening but by the half way mark it wasn't only the children in the audience who were starting to fidget and a father and son in the row in front both fell asleep and snored loudly through the final third. Both my girlfriend and I also needed a nap when we got home. That's not really a ringing endorsement.

The cast is large and talented and you will be able to recognise several well known actors but due to the nature of the script no one really stands out. An area I did enjoy was the soundtrack/score. Music was used sparingly in the film but when it was it worked really well. There was a sort of Nicolas Winding Refn style electro score which was surprising to hear and I was also delighted to hear rapper Dizzee Rascal's Fix Up, Look Sharp get a brief airing. The credits roll over The White Stripes Little Ghost which I'd happily listen to any day.

Overall ParaNorman is a film with a strong beginning, poor middle and dull end. It is funny at times and the animation is good but I'm expecting more from Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

i think it doesn't worth the trouble to go see it

Author: bogdanei from Romania
1 January 2013

it isn't for kids (at all). it is lousy as a scary movie, lousy as a cartoon. not even funny. it should be at least over 12. not worth the money and the trouble to go see it. the story might have had a better approach by making it a bit more funny. it is grim and sad and my kid wouldn't have surely lasted until the end. of course, it might have given him some bad dreams. the scene with the dead uncle and the book is surpassing any definition of disgusting (i wonder it it was to be scary or funny in the director's/maker's intention?). Coraline was as grin as this, but at least it gave this strange world sensation and ... well, again, it is not a movie for kids. it isn't nice at all, and it completely failed to catch me at all

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10 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

One of the best films of the year

Author: rivertam26 from United States
22 August 2012

I am 33 y/o and a long time horror fan and I absolutely loved this film. Yes the film looks wonderful and the execution is awe inspiring, yes the story of Norman brought tears to my eyes a few times, yes I jumped a few times and yes I think this is one of the best films of the year! The film centers on a young boy named Norman who has a special gift that allows him to see and communicate with ghosts. He has a bad reputation in his small town famous for burning a witch at the stake over a century ago. He's bullied constantly because he's different and even his family doesn't take him seriously. He's a big horror movie fan especially zombie films and on the eve of the burning's anniversary he is contacted by a smelly homeless guy who he finds out shares his gifts. Unfortunately the man passes away and he is made aware of his responsibilities in the town. Since he's able to communicate with the paranormals he is to read from a special book at the witch's gravesite before the sun sets so that he can prevent her curse from becoming realized. Something obviously goes awry and the curse begins as the bodies of the people that slain her rise. And it's only up to Norman to save the day before the town goes crazy. ParaNorman is such a great film. Besides being a visual marvel the films explores deeper and more prevalent subject matter including bullying, being scared, handling prejudice if your different, the acceptance of parents and the acceptance of ones self, How people who are scared make bad decisions sometimes, the acceptance of different people, and the devastating effects of how reacting negatively to negative actions only make matters worse. I know it may sound somewhat trivial to an extent or even childish but all of the lessons in this film can spill over into so many aspects of everyones life. In that alone it is completely relatable to everyone. The voice work from Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck and Christopher Mintz amongst others is inspired as well as the accomplished direction that fuses genre staples with a light hearted family film to near perfection. Also I'd like to praise the film makers for taking an innocent and appreciated step into full acceptance of everyones lifestyles (you'll know what I'm talking about when the film ends) and the clever nods towards the horror genre that made me feel like a big kid again. The same company who executed the small but over rated hit Coraline present this as well. But the work here is far better, the film is much more engaging and easily relatable and I didn't fall asleep in this film. ParaNorman is a true instant classic. A gateway film for younger fans wanting to explore the genre and a great, smart, funny, entertaining film and one of the best of the year! 4.5/5

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