ParaNorman DVD Review (Kirk Haviland)

ParaNorman DVD

Starring the voices of Cody Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin and John Goodman

Written by Chris Butler

Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell

New this week on DVD and Blu-Ray from Alliance Films is the stop motion animated wonder, from the same studio that brought us Henry Selick’s Coraline, which scared up some decent box office this summer, ParaNorman. Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell bring us the story of a boy with the gift to talk to the deceased and a mission to fulfill. So what does the DVD have in store for us?

Norman Babcock (Smit-McPhee) is an awkward child with an extraordinary gift, he can see and converse with ghosts. Norman regularly converses with his dead grandmother, much to the exasperation of his incredulous father (Garlin), mother (Mann) and his sister Courtney (Kendrick). An outcast at school, Norman is constantly tormented by Alvin (Mintz-Plasse) and his cronies, and is constantly made fun of over his gift. But when the anniversary of a heinous act in his town’s history approaches, Norman’s estranged Uncle Prenderghast (Goodman) tracks him down as Norman must take over his role in order to save the day. But when all hell breaks loose it’s up to Norman, his friend Neil (Albrizzi), Neil’s hulking brother Mitch (Affleck), Courtney and Alvin to save the day and put everything right.

ParaNorman is a film that actually works even better at home. It remains a smart film that doesn’t pander to the audience while never getting scary enough to truly frighten its target audience. The script is smart with the more adult targeted humor playing better on the small screen. The story does borrow from films like the Sixth Sense quite a bit, but the endearingness of Norman and his friends more than compensates for some of the more familiar story beats.  The animation style works extremely well and the stop-motion is fantastic. It does not try to be anywhere near photo-realistic thankfully and I found it very reminiscent of the old Rankin/Bass TV specials I grew up on and still watch around Christmas every year. Directors Butler and Fell keep the film tightly paced and on target as it clocks in at a satisfying 93 minutes. The actors performing the voice work all work well here, especially our leads Norman and Neil along with Norman’s perfectly casted parents. Kendrick’s work as Courtney is really solid here as well, as the nuances of her character play better on the small screen.

The DVD is packed with a ton of great features to check out as they really go deep behinds the scenes and into all aspects of the production. We get a feature length commentary track going into all aspects of the filming with Directors Butler and Fell along with some pre-visual animatic sequences used for the filming. At around 40 minutes in total, the multi segmented Behind the Scenes package “Peering through the Veil” is full of informative and fun facts. And if that weren’t enough there are 7 additional featurettes covering other aspects of the film. A great pack for adult and child alike.

Sure to be present under many a Christmas tree this year, if you can hold out that long, ParaNorman is a treat and delight for the entire family. Loaded with special features and featuring a brilliant crisp and clean digital transfer, the DVD really becomes a can’t lose package. Based on this, ParaNorman on DVD is a must buy DVD and will be a fun holiday watch for the whole family.

You can read my original ParaNorman review HERE

Also Noteworthy : Rise of the Guardians Review  and Wolf Children Review

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

Follow me directly on twitter @moviejunkieto and by liking my Facebook page at Movie Junkie TO

Email me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com

Argo Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

Argo (2012)

Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Taylor Schilling, Clea Duvall, Tate Donovan, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishe, Scoot McNairy, Victor Garber, Sheila Vand, Kyle Chandler, and Philip Baker Hall

Directed by Ben Affleck

Instead of shooting an expensive montage, Argo efficiently uses a prologue of storyboards to contextualize Iranian anger. And even in this business-like decision or omission, the movie still captures the shades that make Americans and Iranians more alike than they think they are. It shows a young Iranian woman spewing the Revolution’s ideologies, even if an American character (most likely Arkin’s) looks at her on television with a cynical distance. It also shows, as I should have expected, that not all Iranians are frothing at the mouth with anti-Americanism. Some want to emigrate to the US, despite possibly being caught by revolutionary guards as traitors. They also risk facing racism, as the movie shows news footage of Americans mobbing on one Iranian in the States. There’s also a maid in the ambassador’s house named Sahar (Vand) who has to decide what to do to her new and suspicious guests. But that’s because her suspicions are right – that the guests are six American workers (including Donovan, Denham and Bishe) trying to hide from the guards instead of being hostages at the embassy.

Argo also renders the Americans with variation. As noticed by other reviewers, the prologue shows American culpability in the Iranian Revolution. The fact that it’s showing the hoorah-ers in a derisive way is evidence to its own healthy national self-deprecation. Those ‘Mericans are the opposite of the upper brass in Washington (including Cranston, Chandler and Baker Hall) who are more balanced, and concerned about the hostages. In fact Argo shows the characters in Washington hating each other more, their infighting and oversights inadvertently letting the Crisis drag on longer than it should have. And besides, while the six Americans in hiding are having dinner with their host, Cora Lijek (Duvall) tells everyone in the table that she agrees with the revolution’s demand to put the Shah on trial.

Thankfully Cora doesn’t have to deal with tense conversations and tense everything. That’s because across the Atlantic, CIA operative Tony Mendez (Affleck) plans to get her and her coworkers out with the best dumb idea ever – for Tony, Cora and the other five to pose as a film crew. Speaking of which, the transitions from sombre political drama to snappy heist movie is as delicate as watching someone walk on water. The people Tony enlists in California (including Goodman) make repetitive jokes but Goodman and Arkin’s delivery of those jokes are subtle enough that they don’t make their side too distasteful nor oppositional in tone compared to the other.

Yes, Argo emotionally manipulates us in telling a story in which we know the ending. Affleck is the perfect person to direct this movie because his earlier ones feature characters with malleable sympathies and can mold from one polarized group to its total opposite. There’s a scene where (spoiler) one of the six Americans, Mark Stafford (McNairy), convincingly argues that a half-naked woman drawn in a storyboard is relate-able to a Revolutionary Guard. His movies also tie sinewy knots instead of bows, refusing to give us perfectly happy endings. I say this particularly because of Sahar’s ending which, and I’m projecting here, makes me worry about her. There’s a part of me that, because of the movie’s endings, thinks Affleck is a sadist but we can argue that he’s also a realist. The brutal honesty in his films is a refreshing feeling even if it gives us equal bouts of discomfort.

Follow me on Twitter @paolocase

Like Entertainment Maven on Facebook

ParaNorman Review (Kirk Haviland)

ParaNorman (2012)

Starring the voices of Cody Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin and John Goodman

Written by Chris Butler

Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell

From the same studio that brought us Henry Selick’s Coraline we get a new stop-motion animated film also dealing with the slightly macabre, ParaNorman. From directors Chris Butler, storyboard artist on Coraline, and Sam Fell, director of Tale of Despereaux and Flushed Away, comes the story of a boy with the gift to talk to the deceased and a mission to fulfill. But can these two directors live up to the brilliance that was Coraline?

Norman Babcock (Smit-McPhee) is an awkward child with an extraordinary gift, he can see and converse with ghosts. Norman regularly converses with his dead grandmother, much to the exasperation of his incredulous father (Garlin), mother (Mann) and his sister Courtney (Kendrick). An outcast at school, Norman is constantly tormented by Alvin (Mintz-Plasse) and his cronies, and is constantly made fun of over his gift. But when the anniversary of a heinous act in his town’s history approaches, Norman’s estranged Uncle Prenderghast (Goodman) tracks him down as Norman must take over his duty and read from a sacred book in order to save the day. Unfortunately, due to a run-in with Alvin, Norman is late and all hell breaks loose. It’s up to Norman, with the help of his friend Neil (Albrizzi), Neil’s hulking brother Mitch (Affleck), Courtney and Alvin, to save the day and put everything right.

ParaNorman works on almost every level. A smart film and script that doesn’t pander to the audience and also never gets too scary that it might frighten its target audience. The animation style works extremely well and the stop-motion is fantastic, not trying to be anywhere near photo realistic and reminiscent of old Rankin/Bass TV specials, allowing for the fact that it is a classically animated film to shine through. The story is solid, containing many of asides for the adults while remaining completely accessible for kids, although it may not be completely unoriginal with equal parts Sixth Sense and Scooby Doo mixed in. Directors Butler and Fell keep the film tightly paced and on target as it clocks in at a satisfying 93 minutes. The actors performing the voice work all work well here, especially our leads Norman and Neil along with Norman’s perfectly casted parents. The screening I saw of the film was full of youngsters of all ages, some I had pegged no older than 5, and they all were pretty quietly and intently focused on the film throughout, a good sign that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. In fact, my friend’s son triumphantly declared after the screening that ParaNorman was better than Dark Knight Rises, high praise indeed.

ParaNorman is fun for all ages and for my money the best family entertainment out there at the moment. ParaNorman is a very strong recommend.

ParaNorman is in theaters nationwide starting Friday August 17th.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto.

Follow me on twitter @moviejunkieto

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑