❉ Packed with top-flight extras, Shout! have delivered an all-in restoration which leaves nothing to be desired.
“When it was released in theatres, critics gave ParaNorman strong reviews, but the film did only decent box-office, which is a shame, because a film like this one – something that takes a universal set of ideas that many children can relate to while filtering it through a sense of original and creepy fun – really deserved to be seen on a much wider basis.”
When it was first released in 2012, the stop-motion animated horror-comedy, ParaNorman, made some cultural waves for its progressive themes and discussions of inclusion, while telling a spirited story concerning a young boy named Norman Babcock, who can communicate with ghosts, and who is given the task of ending a 300-year-old witch’s curse on his Massachusetts town.
Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler (the latter of whom wrote the original screenplay), the film stars the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Ferland, Bernard Hill, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, and John Goodman, and if that’s not a first-rate group of voice performers, I’m not sure what is. And because the film hailed from the creative and technical team at Laika Animation Studios (Coraline, Kubo & the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, Missing Link), you’re guaranteed to be provided with something exciting, as these artisans (that’s truly the word for them) seem incapable of creating anything that’s less than fully magical on a cinematic level.
One of the things about the animated film realm is how filmmakers and storytellers are able to weave in their social messages within the framework of a satisfying and entertaining story, which needs to appeal to a wide range of sensibilities. In ParaNorman, the lead character is a boy who must use his special ability to see and speak with the dead to save his town from a centuries-old curse; what child hasn’t imagined that they can see or talk with ghosts, or something imaginary? By tapping into what makes kids be themselves on a creative level, Fell and Butler have a blast with the story on any number of levels, while from a visual perspective, leave nothing on the table. Simply put – this is ravishing stuff, with a bold sense of colour saturation and dynamic angles pushed to gloriously heightened degrees. It’s both an artistic and thematic triumph for a group of extremely talented individuals who seem to thrive under the stress of having to top themselves each time out. Shout! Factory’s flawless audio and visual presentation is reference-quality material.
According to production notes, the idea for the film came from Butler, who thought making such a movie for kids could help express the challenges they face growing up, after realizing that, in particular, zombie films often contained a degree of social commentary. ParaNorman was the first stop-motion film to use a 3D colour printer to create character faces, and only the second to be shot in 3D, the first being Laika’s previous effort, 2009’s Coraline (also out from Shout!). When it was released in theatres, critics gave ParaNorman strong reviews, but the film did only decent box-office, which is a shame, because a film like this one – something that takes a universal set of ideas that many children can relate to while filtering it through a sense of original and creepy fun – really deserved to be seen on a much wider basis. Still, it was nominated for that year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, but lost both to Pixar’s Brave.
Once again, the team at Shout! have delivered an all-in restoration, which leaves nothing to be desired on an audio/visual level, while supplementing the release with top-flight, informative special features, which continues to extend the notion that physical media still deserves as much respect as possible.
DISC 1 (4K UHD):
- NEW 4K Restoration
- NEW Dolby Atmos 1 Mix
DISC 2 (Blu-ray)
- Inside LAIKA – Discovering The Characters And Effects Of ParaNorman Featuring Rare Test Footage
- Inside LAIKA – Revisiting The Puppets With LAIKA’s Animation Team
- Feature-Length Storyboards
- Character, Concept Art And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery
- Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Chris Butler And Co-Director Sam Fell
- “Peering Through The Veil”
- Original Featurettes
❉ ‘ParaNorman’ 4K Ultra HD + Blu-Ray (Limited SteelBook™ Edition) and 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray (Standard Edition) was released on December 13, 2022 via LAIKA/Shout! Factory.
❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema and is a regular contributor to We Are Cult.. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott.