Thanks to Universal Pictures, we had the chance to see Chris Butler and Sam Fell’s animated film Paranorman before its Australian cinematic release. This is our review of the film – but as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because: There is no better critic than yourself!
Paranorman tells the story of Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lonely gifted kid who can see and speak to dead people which makes him the target for bullying at school and at home (especially by his annoying sister – Leslie Mann) Known as the town’s ‘freak’, he befriends Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) at school who is the only one that believes in Norman’s powers. Together they embark on an adventure to save their town from an old curse which will bring back death and unleash a terrifying zombie invasion.
Following the success of Coraline (2009), the storyboard man Chris Butler debuts with Paranorman as his first feature film alongside Sam Fell who has experience behind the camera in Flushed Away (2006) and The Tale of Despereaux (2008). Paranorman is a stop motion feature film that does the genre proud as it looks fantastic and CGI like with fluent animation, fabulous character design and vivid environments – a complete old school work of art that enthralls thanks to 3D technology.
The voice cast was well-chosen despite not having big names for the main characters. Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let me In) delivers Norman’s innocence and bravery, same as Tucker Albrizzi bringing humour to Neil’s character, alongside other actors such as Anna Kendrick, John Goodman,Casey Affleck and Leslie Mann, just to name a few.
Paranorman has quite a few entertaining moments in the first half but falls short in the second with some very predictable jokes and unnecessary plot lines that might confuse the kids a little. This is especially true when the zombies are trying to be funny and scary at the same time or when the origin of the curse is exposed (great sequence nevertheless!)
Overall, Paranorman is a triumph as a Stop Motion Animation which we would not be surprised if the film wins some awards in that category but the script and the story is underdeveloped as it mixes too many elements and minuscule factors. Regardless, the final product is a fun, weird and somewhat scary animated film for the whole family.
Paranorman opens in 3D on 10 January, 2013