Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Writer: Chris Butler
Voice Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Tucker Albrizzi, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, John Goodman, Alex Borstein, Hannah Noyes, Jack Blessing
Synopsis: A misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language
Season of the Witch Song
I see dead people....
When audiences first heard the epic movie line, "I see dead people", it became one of the most infamous movie quotes of all time; right up there with "Luke, I am your father." "Sixth Sense" had a plot that involved a kid being able to see, and talk to, the dead; which ended up becoming arguably one of the best mystery and suspense thrillers ever made.
Whoever would've imagined that years later, we'd see an animated film featuring the same plot device. However, unlike "Sixth Sense", this movie isn't a dramatic mystery thriller; even though there is some mystery behind it. But, the mystery in this film is more geared towards family audiences; while incorporating a bit of horror elements into it's story.
The film follows a kid named Norman, who was born with the ability to see, and talk to, the dead. Norman also lives in a quiet suburban small town, where everyone knows this; hence everyone in town labels him a freak. Not even his own family accepts him as normal, as they constantly try to discourage him from using his abilities to talk to the dead, or even mention that he has that ability at all.
Constantly being called a freak by his big sister, and bullied at school, it's a wonder how Norman survives the day. In fact, the only person that really accepts him is his grandmother, who's been dead for years. However, while preparing for a play of the witch burning that happened years ago, within that very same town, Norman starts to get eerily disturbing hallucinations that hint to the future.
At first, Norman doesn't know what any of it means, until he meets a hobo that shares his same gifts. The hobo warns Norman that a witch is coming to bring back the dead, and how only he can stop it from happening. Now, one might ask why doesn't the hobo do it himself, since he shares Norman's same abilities. However, he's old, and dies; hence he needs someone to take his place. Norman is the only one that can stop the witch from carrying out her plans to raise the dead.
Or perhaps this witch isn't all she seems to be? Maybe there's more to her story than perhaps even the town records foretold. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain, you ain't ever seen an animated film quite like "ParaNorman."
For starters, lets talk about the animation. Although stop motion animation has been used before in various other movies, "ParaNorman" uses it to perfection. Not only creating arguably some of the best visuals that most audiences will ever find in an animated feature, but it also combines CGI along with the stop motion animation; in order to create scenes that are beautiful to watch. Seriously, just the animation by itself is worth checking out.
But what about the story? Well, the story isn't half bad either. Sure, it's predictable, but you can say that about almost any animated movie these days. However, what's interesting about the story is not only how complex some of these characters can be, but it's also interesting how clever some of the plot twists are.
For example, when Norman tries to find a solution to get rid of the witch for good, we come to find out there's more to the story than what we were given earlier, in the movie. Not only does this create a strong sense of irony and empathy for the antagonist, but it adds a lot of depth to the story as well.
Of course, the best part about this movie was the universal themes that children could learn from; like how we shouldn't often judge others before getting to know them, and how we should proud to be who we are. In the end, these are great morals for children to learn from, and arguably a few adults as well.
As for the comedy, it's actually pretty funny to watch, as the film pokes fun at a lot of old school "B-Movie" type horror films. Although I still say "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" is arguably funnier than "ParaNorman", but in terms of story telling combined with amazing visuals, I'd have to give the edge to this movie. Nothing against "The Pirates! Band of Misfits", but "ParaNorman" delivers arguably a better all around story; mixed with amazing visuals.
In fact, it might be one of the deepest and creative animated films ever made. If it doesn't win "Best Animated Feature" at this year's Oscars, then it'll be a real shame, as this is arguably the best animated movie of last year by far.
Overall, I'd have to give this movie a perfect four out of four. If you haven't seen it yet, then I'd highly recommend it.