Blu-ray Review: ‘Paranorman’

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Blu-ray Review: ‘Paranorman’
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The 2012 animated film "Paranorman" releases on a two-disc set consisting of a Blu-ray disc and a DVD. The package houses the film's HD, SD, and UV digital copies, as well as a host of special features. This stop-motion animation offering helmed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler revolves around the adventures of a quirky, misunderstood boy who can see and speak with the dead. It stars Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, John Goodman, and Casey Affleck.

This clever picture best suits older kids, parents, and grandparents because of its significantly dark mood and tone. Its genre, format, and storytelling have that comparable allure to "The Nightmare Before Christmas," yet it still has its own Gothic vibe. As a rare type of family-friendly paranormal adventure, it mainly displays a grown-up melancholy anchored by animated visions of death, persecution, and various societal issues. It also pays homage to many horror offerings from the 1950s to the 1980s, which are elements that the older generation can easily relate to.

Visuals

This delightfully dark, creepy, and melancholic movie promotes sheer artistry on display. The sumptuous piece of animation looks great in this vivid and captivating transfer. Its significantly dark mood and tone is full of lingering shadows and ghoulish wonders. The scope and scale of its spirited and inventive animation masterfully captures visual delights and impeccable sounds in a small-town setting. From occasional eerie houses to gnarled forests, its blend of stop-motion and computer-generated artworks provides the film with a unique personality.

Shots are always filled with suitably ominous blacks and revealing textures. The images' distinctly crisp and refined frames effortlessly dazzle the senses. There is exceptional delineation throughout. No crucial visual flaws plague the picture.

Audio

A near-perfect incarnation of this horror comedy for the home theater environment, the spooky soundtrack showcases a five-channel lossless mix, along with five-channel dubbed options in Spanish and French. The main track comes close to matching the rewarding precision of the visuals. The musical score excels with enough purpose and presence.

A few patches of middling dialogue can sound a bit too thin and airy at times, but not to a detrimental degree. The energetic surround stage expands seamlessly in between sequences. At the same time, the quieter parts still provide enough occasional engagement. The LFE channel rightfully brings the scare in chaotic scenes and supernatural encounters. Vocal performances are generally clean and aptly prioritized. There are no audio issues to address anywhere in the presentation.

Supplements

The package hosts a couple of supplements including an audio commentary by writer/director Chris Butler and co-director Sam Fell, the extensive and informative featurette collection entitled "Peering Through the Veil," the shorter featurette collection called "Additional Featurettes," and a hand-drawn storyboard and early voice work collection entitled "Preliminary Animatic Sequences." This edition also provides Universal's U-Control Picture-in-Picture track that makes the disc's various featurettes more accessible. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.

Final Thoughts

With enough heart and humor, "ParaNorman" shines with that unusually cheerful gloom. This endearing monster spoof focuses on something more abstract, and at some point, more cerebral. These make it a more ideal material to watch for older viewers. An exciting deviation from the usual animated flicks seen these days, this stop-motion feature serves as a bewitching little ode to horror films. Even with a slightly flawed third act, it still triumphs in telling a well-meaning story that never loses touch on its issues on fear, violence, bullying, and tainted family dynamics.

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