A bare spectre of a storyline
HERE’S a tricky line involved in making scary animated movies.
If they’re cartoonish enough for young moviegoers, they often lack the edge to satisfy older viewers. If they’re too scary, they risk giving young viewers nightmares.
ParaNorman tries to serve both sides and in the process comes up short on both counts.
Norman (voiced by Kodi SmitMcPhee) can see dead people.
Most of the time he keeps it a secret but that changes when a group of zombies threatens the city and Norman inherits the job of city protector.
Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have crafted a tale with the driving theme that it’s OK to be different – something the film achieves with its look and design. Computer-generated animation is now the norm in features, but ParaNorman bucks that trend by using traditional stop animation, where small figures are posed, photographed and moved a small amount to create the illusion of movement. There’s something about this hands-on approach that makes it easier to be drawn into the film’s world.
But once drawn in, the story is rather thin. The filmmakers rely on excessively long action sequences to fill time.
The voice casting is solid but not memorable. Of the chattering talents – including Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Jeff Garlin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse – only Mintz-Plasse makes his character sound different. The rest end up a generic verbal stew.
ParaNorman is indeed a visual feast. The craftsmanship is spectacular and the look amazing but it’s hard to imagine who will enjoy this film. It’s way too scary for little kids but not scary enough for teens.
It looks good but comes up short on substance.
Kodi Smit-McPhee (inset) voices Norman (above) in