September 14, 2012
Freakish fun for older kids and adults
ParaNorman is a sumptuously rendered and freakishly fun film that is both morbid and gleeful in its look and storytelling. Its mastery of its own language makes it come close to perfection. It targets bigger kids and their parents, but its spooky charm actually embraces a much wider market. It doesn't talk down to its young audience, and at the same time, it provides a surprisingly thoughtful fare for its adult viewers. They can indulge in its endless array of subtle gags and homages to B-movie horror, 1950s camp, zombie flicks, and German Expressionism. It capably merges survival horror with nostalgia through its throwbacks to cinema classics from various eras.
For a movie grounded in fear, it stands out as a fearless piece that delivers plenty of loving jabs to the horror genre and the animation format. Smart and likeable with some independent film sensibilities, it expertly balances its scary and comedic elements with well-written characters and weird and creepy situations.
Taking a huge risk that pays off enormously, this animated work crafts its own sweet yet twisted fairy tale with equal parts of the old school and the cutting edge. It allows its acerbic personality to tell the forlorn story of a misunderstood boy's ghost and zombie encounters with a genuine emotional core. Its simple but powerful story clearly explores the psychology of bullying in a backdrop that easily interweaves the stoical with the heroic. It also touches on other meaty themes from dealing with death to valuing the importance of family. Moreover, it delivers potent messages of finding one's purpose, accepting others, forgiving misdeeds, and not submitting oneself to a cult of fear. All these are pretty serious subject matters to dwell into, which makes the film work best for older children than very little tykes.
This ghoulishly beautiful offering balances visual wit with genuine pathos and generous humor. It works as an ingenious and imaginative supernatural tale for people who love their monsters. On a deeper perspective, it also serves as a salvo to the socio-cultural and socio-political concerns of the modern times.
Aside from having an inventive and emotionally satisfying theme, this motion picture is undoubtedly a triumph of animation. Its intricate fusion of stop-motion and CG elements offers a fitting organic look to really make the story shine. The gorgeous shots and inspired sets lovingly combine the state of the art with the old school. The film's technical marvel promotes ghoulishness and hilarity that aptly creates breathtaking moments out of its quick-witted script and intended visual puns. Its otherworldly animation seems so real that the viewers could almost reach out and touch it.
From its tones to its textures, the scenes are always filled with clever details, well-thought-of compositions, and impeccable camera movements. With high respect to the animation process it utilizes, there is always something interesting seen on screen. Shots are always purposely designed, imaginatively executed, and fully realized with a solemn sense of macabre wonder.
Staying until the end credits rewards the audience with an interesting glimpse of how its main character is brought to life by today's stop-motion animation technology.
This cinematic project from the stop-motion wizards of the animation studio Laika is a rare gem that is brimming with handcrafted beauty. This studio release deserves a spot right next to its older sister Coraline, another tale about an outcast finding solace in a parallel world. It also operates on the wavelengths of the dark whimsy and cheeky wit of other stop-motion classics like Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
ParaNorman is a darkly charming and snarky picture that effectively handles its fine mix of trivial and mature components to mount likeable scenarios. With an amazing cast and remarkable writing, this thoroughly delightful animated material provides a rollicking good time for those looking for depth, meaning, and personality to a family movie. Ambitious, creative, and successful in entertaining kids and adult horror buffs, it shines as an endearingly sweet and spooky ode to the living, the dead, and the in-between.
From its rambunctious thrills to its touchingly dramatic scenarios, its appealing presentation makes it possible to easily overlook the slight stumbles in its earnest final act, which at some point, tends to over-explain things. Nevertheless, this film is destined to become a Halloween perennial. More importantly, it is bound to become a horror and animation classic.
ParaNorman is shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas.
About the writer: Exposed in the different facets of media including film, TV, advertising, theater, radio, print, web, and events, Rianne is an awarded filmmaker whose film works go beyond her productions. As a young and active soul, she immerses herself in various disciplines as a director, writer, educator, and production artistdriving her to further learn and experience love and life.