Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day One Hundred and Seventeen - Paranorman, "Laika, you rock... HARD."

Made by the same crew who brought Neil Gaiman's Coraline to the big screen, ParaNorman tells the tale of a young boy who is a reluctant medium in an old New England town where no one, not even his family, understands his gift/curse for speaking to the dead.

Unfortunately for Norman, that means that he is the only one who can save the town when the curse of a witch who was hanged back in pilgrim times falls upon the town, threatening to drive everyone mad with mass hysteria.

Alright, I think it's pretty safe to say that Laika and its artists are pretty awesome. What they manage to do with wire frames and latex is awe-inspiring. Overall, their art direction is stupendous. I really love how everything is askew, from the character design to the architecture and props, there are bent angles everywhere and a general lack symmetry that serves to enhance the eerie mood of the picture.

Then there's the story... a simple ghost tale that follows a natural progression, I could definitely see it getting lost in someone else's hands (like, say, Dreamworks or Fox), but Laika and company use their character cliches and idiosyncrasies to drive things smoothly instead of relying on pop culture to connect superfluous scenes together (like Shrek or Ice Age).

ParaNorman is great family fare, but it doesn't dumb things down. It will be scary for kids, but the good kind of scary that inspires wonder and creativity as opposed to most horror films that are just out for shock factor. There's something in the story for everyone and plenty of interesting background noise to make the town and its citizens feel real and fully fleshed out... even the zombies.

That's not to say that there aren't a few silly jokes meant to pull people in (like the Halloween reference), but there are many more references and gags meant to satisfy film lovers (like the opening zombie movie) without being heavy handed.

I think my main complaint with the movie is that all of the ghosts that we're introduced to in the first act disappear until the denouement. Be it Grandma or Neil's dog or any of the plethora of spirits that Norman meets on his way to school, they all seem to disappear when they could've been used to greater effect during the crisis. This is especially disappointing in the case of Grandma who says, herself, that she's only there to look after Norman.

Well, where WERE you Grandma, when zombie pilgrims were chasing down your grandson? Hmm?

It's a valid issue/plothole, but doesn't really detract from the quality of the film as a whole. It's got great style, animation, story, and voice acting (mmm, Anna Kendrick... you're so dreamy~). I'm really happy to have this in my queue and recommend it to pretty much everybody.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

No comments:

Post a Comment