Story: Norman has trouble making friends and just fitting in, with only one real friend at school and even at home, things aren’t much better. He spends his time watching horror movies and celebrating the more macabre side of existence, which might seem strange, but it makes perfect sense for Norman. He was born with an unusual, supernatural gift of sorts, the ability to see and speak with the deceased. Since he socializes with the dead more than the living, his love of horror cinema and other spooky themes doesn’t seem so outrageous. And when a centuries old curse on the town is awakened, Norman’s horror knowledge and connection to the other side have made him into a potential savior. But with the fate of the entire town on the line, can Norman rise to the challenge and overcome the maniacal curse?

Entertainment Value: This stop motion animated feature from Laika is a visual delight, especially if you’re into the horror vibe, but there’s also entertainment here beyond the gorgeous animation. The narrative is an interesting one, taking a darker style than most PG animation, but it has universal elements, just dressed up with a macabre twist. The pace is fine, though the second half or so is a little slower, driven by the plot choices involved. But even then, ParaNorman remains interesting and holds attention, though I do wish the flow was smoother at times. The dark, horror aspect might scare off some parents, but this movie keeps a sense of humor and while sometimes dark, is never overly so. But when the story is rooted in horror elements, there’s bound to be some eerie moments, so keep that in mind. I appreciated some of the more serious narrative turns as well, such as the zombies thread, as the filmmakers handle the serious emotion moments with great skill. There are some tough moments here, but ParaNorman navigates them so well. The voice talent is good, with Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Casey Affleck, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, and even more gathered for this ensemble.

As much as I enjoyed the story and performances however, the real star of ParaNorman is the animation and as per usual for Laika, this movie looks spectacular. The stop motion approach has such a unique type of artistry, it is simply gorgeous and the attention to detail is beyond remarkable. The character designs are fun and offer some memorable folks, thanks to a stylized, slightly exaggerated look that results in a wide scope of characters. So these characters share some core traits, but there’s a lot of visual parity as well, another point toward the attention to detail. The supernatural atmosphere is constant and that means the animation needs to be spooky, which it is and then some. I loved all the horror touches offered up in ParaNorman, from the obvious set pieces to the very subtle details that sneak in. The colors look on point and overall, the movie really nails the kind of horror vibes the material needs. A good story brought to life by a skilled cast and some beautiful visuals, this is an easy one to recommend.

The Disc: A new 4k restoration was undertaken for this release and to my eyes, this is easily the best ParaNorman has ever looked. I’ve seen this in various physical and digital methods over the years, but this puts all those versions to shame and with a film like this, that is fantastic news. The detail is razor sharp and visual depth shows so much dimension, even the smallest of details seem to spring to life here. The dark visuals are handled to perfection in this treatment, I have to think fans will be overjoyed with how remarkable this release looks. The extras have been ported over from previous editions, with an audio commentary track, a forty minute behind the scenes piece, and a host of shorter featurettes, from interviews to production design elements. You can also browse still photos, test footage, and the film’s trailer. The best supplement however are the feature length storyboards, which fans will likely soak up with glee.

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