Blu-ray Review: ParaNorman

ParaNorman Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Chris Butler, Sam Fell | CAST: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 11/27/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $34.98, Blu-ray 3D Combo $49.98
BONUSES: featurettes, preliminary animatic sequence, commentary, digital copy
SPECS: PG | 93 min. | Animated Family | 2.40:1 aspect ratio | DTS-HD 5.1 audio | English, Spanish, French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

ParaNormanThe ParaNorman Blu-ray gives fans of stop-motion animation an insider’s look at the technique as well as the filmmakers who love it.

The family movie honors its stop-motion predecessor Coraline in that it blends comedy with light horror, in this case ghosts and zombies. But, also like Coraline, ParaNorman is dark, and some scary parts might be a bit too spooky for the youngest members of the family, especially the creepy, albeit sweet, ending.

ParaNorman tells the story of young Norman (voiced by Let Me In‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee), who can see dead people. Norman’s gift isn’t appreciated by many people, least of all his father (Jeff Garlin, TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) and the other kids in school. One, however, the overweight, bullied Neil (Tucker Albrizzi, TV’s Good Luck Charlie), befriends him despite Norman’s reluctance.

When Norman’s equally gifted uncle dies, he passes on a task to the boy: to appease a wicked witch before she unleashes hell on Earth. Norman’s not quite sure how to do that, however, and when he misses the deadline, undead zombies are brought to life and harrass the town. With help from his older sister (Anna Kendrick, End of Watch), the boy she has a crush on (Casey Affleck, Tower Heist) and Neil, Norman must find a way to get the zombies back in the ground and stop the witch’s curse from terrorizing his town ever again.

The film’s stop-motion animation is stunning, and it’s all beautifully rendered in the Blu-ray’s high definition. Norman’s town of funny looking people is bright, clear and colorful. And the high-def sound is equally good, with the zombies giving a nice squealch as they dig their way out of the ground.

Fans of stop motion will be just as delighted by the special features as the film. The Blu-ray is stuffed with featurettes that go behind-the-scenes of ParaNorman, including interviews with the creators, the artists and the voice stars. One thing is clear: The artists absolutely love what they do.

In a few of the featurettes, the artists tell us that making this movie is like the greatest revenge of the geeks and that, even though they had a hard time in high school, they feel vindicated now that they all get to do exactly what they want.

The featurettes also go into detail about how the artists made the film’s exquisite models, from the material used in the hair to the way the characters’ movements are created.

All the featurettes are fun, informative and worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of this type of filmmaking.

Also on the disc are some interesting preliminary animatic sequences and a commentary by first-time writer/director Chris Butler (Corpse Bride) and director Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux), further showing their bubbling enthusiasm. It’s to not let it be infectious.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.