Directors: Chris Butler & Sam Fell
Voice cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jodelle Ferland, Bernard Hill
Plot: Norman is an awkward boy who has the ability to speak to the dead. This gift unfortunately alienates him from everyone at school, and even his family doesn't understand him. However he has to put his skills to use when an ancient curse cast by a witch executed 300 years ago threatens to destroy his little town.
Review: ParaNorman is the brainchild of the same people behind Coraline, though these guys take on bigger responsibilities here, whereas previously they were just storyboard supervisors and animators.
As far as the stop motion animation goes, it's just delightful to behold. There's something about stop motion that is so appealing compared to digital 3D animation. The slower movements and sometimes jerky flow give it a retro feel that adds to its quality overall.
The lead character Norman is reminiscent of Coraline, they are both outcasts and misunderstood by their own parents. Norman is kinda like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, except Norman is quite comfortable with his ability to see the dead. The problem is, no one believes him when he tries to warn them of the imminent doom approaching thanks to a curse cast by a witch on the town three centuries ago.
The only friend Norman has is a fat kid named Neil, who is the best friend we all wish we had. Along with school bully Alvin, Norman's sister Courtney and Neil's jock brother Mitch, Norman races against time to put a stop to the curse before it's too late.
ParaNorman works pretty good for the first half of its runtime as the story builds up with great promise. It's when it crosses the half mark that things start to go downhill. At this point, the level of urgency has gone up but the excitement factor strangely stalls. The filmmakers try their best to get the story going to where they want it to, but they take a slightly complicated road. To be fair, if this had been a live action film, it would have worked. But it's an animated film, and this method just drags the story down.
However I have to give credit where it's due. Chris Butler and Sam Fell do an above average job developing all the characters, especially Norman. There are also quite a handful of laughs once the zombies come into play, but after that the comedy is quite hit and miss till the end.
Let Me In's Kodi Smit-McPhee is a perfect choice for the voice of Norman, as his character in Let Me In is quite similar to this one. Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck and John Goodman are also memorable in their roles. Special mention goes to Tucker Albrizzi as Neil, Norman's best friend.
Despite the waste in potential as far as story goes, ParaNorman is still a worthy watch for its top notch animation. It isn't as good as Coraline, but it's a fine attempt nonetheless. (3/5)