One of the most endearing films of 2012, ParaNorman from LAIKA Studios became a phenomenon in animation circles. LAIKA had previously made waves with 2009’s Coraline, a stop-motion animation masterpiece directed by Henry Selick. By 2012, the small Portland-based animation company had pushed the boundaries of technology in every conceivable way. Not only had they discovered a new way to animate in Stop Motion, but how they used visual effects was revolutionary. ParaNorman built on the techniques explored in Coraline and established a voice and style unique to LAIKA.
A decade later, this incredible film returns to life with a new release from Shout! Factory. Available as a 4K Blu-Ray set and as with a limited edition Steelbook (featuring the incredible art of Kevin Tong), this is the first 4K release of ParaNorman. As is tradition, Shout! Factory spoils the audience with great special features while also ensuring that the films are celebrated for their incredible accomplishments.
Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell, ParaNorman continues to hold a special place in the hearts of millions. With this new restoration, the colors and details are better than ever. The films were scaled up to HDR and utilized Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos to create a wholly immersive experience. This restoration was overseen by Travis Knight (CEO of LAIKA and director of Kubo and the Two Strings) and VFX artist Steve Emerson (Oscar-nominated VFX coordinator for Kubo). Both men worked on ParaNorman and helped bring its vivid details to life.
About the Film:
In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman, who can speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches, and, worst of all, grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul-whisperer bravely summons up all that makes a hero – courage, and compassion – as he finds his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
Voice Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, and John Goodman. Produced by Arianne Sutner and Travis Knight. Written by Chris Butler. Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler.
DISC 1 (4K UHD):
- NEW 4K Restoration
- NEW Dolby Atmos 7.1 Mix
DISC 2 (Blu-ray)
- Inside LAIKA – Discovering The Characters And Effects Of ParaNorman Featuring Rare Test Footage
- Inside LAIKA – Revisiting The Puppets With LAIKA’s Animation Team
- Feature-Length Storyboards
- Character, Concept Art, And Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery
- Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Chris Butler And Co-Director Sam Fell
- “Peering Through The Veil”
- Original Featurettes
Review of the Release
Simply put, this release is masterful. Every image in every special feature looks incredible. The 4K coloration is nearly perfect in every way. Additionally, the jump to 7.1 surround sound pays off. Any viewer with a soundbar will already feel the difference, but the additional speakers and mixing genuinely astound. It’s as if you’re watching ParaNorman for the first time.
The special features, in particular, are a stunning look at how LAIKA creates its films. We poured through each of the features in our preview copy, and not a single feature disappointed. Each special feature highlights the unique art of stop-motion animation and allows the incredible team their moment in the spotlight. My favorite, besides the very fun commentary, is the feature-length storyboard. Seeing the rough sketches and concept art come together to craft a vision of ParaNorman that is different than the one we’ve come to love is a shockingly fun way to view the film.
Other features detail the incredible artwork of the film. Animators dive into character-specific physicality in behind-the-scenes showcases. The visual effects team reveals how they created giant storm clouds and otherworldly creatures. The special features recognize the teams behind the Rapid Prototyping technology, which changed stop motion forever. These features contextualize the jump from Coraline to ParaNorman. We even see voice sessions with Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, and Casey Affleck.
These special features are a necessity for any animation fan in your life. The detailed process of stop-motion animation is well chronicled, but so are the triumphs. You understand just how many people are involved in a stop-motion feature. When you see the LAIKA team at work, you realize you are in the hands of true artists. Combined with gorgeous restoration, this edition is a must-have for any artist in your family.
As a bonus, if you can obtain the Steelbook edition, this version includes extra artwork and some words about the film from Bill Desowitz from Indiewire.