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Non-Review Review: ParaNorman

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, which was as much of a joy this year as it was last year. If not moreso.

ParaNorman is a charming little film, even if it’s not quite as good as Laika’s other recent stop-motion effort, Coraline. ParaNorman is a charming homage to a variety of classic horror films, clearly crafted with a great deal of affection and love by directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell. It suffers a bit from being a little bit too earnest in attempting to convey its heartfelt moral message, but it is still entertainingly well put-together, drawing solid voice work from a diverse cast and making the most of its horror movie premise.

Nothing out of the Norman here…

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Have a Look at Jill Thompson’s Sandman Movie Concept Art!

We’re big fans of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman here at the m0vie blog. It’s genuinely one of the masterpieces of the medium, and the perfect book to recommend to somebody who wants to see the very best work in the medium. There has been talk of adapting the story for film before, and I remember having nightmares about the damage that could have been done to it by an industry that hears “comic book” and thinks “superhero.” At one point Gaiman apparently read “not only the worst Sandman script I’ve ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I’ve ever read” attached to the project.

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ParaNorman Trailer

Universal just sent on the trailer for ParaNorman, and it’s well worth a look. I’ve been a fan of stop-motion for quite a while, with Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists being one of my favourite films of the year so far. However, the trailer evokes the wonderful work of director Henry Selick, who directed both The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, both superb pieces of work. The film is directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell. While Fell has a history working as a director of family films, Butler served as artistic director on both Coraline and Corpse Bride, and wrote the script here. The cast is phenomenal, featuring John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. I am looking forward to this. Between this, Frankenweenie and Pirates!, it looks like a great year to be a stop motion fan.

Anyway, give the trailer a look below.

Welcome to the Academy!

Wow.

The Academy might actually be serious about changing things. I was indifferent about the expansion of the Best Picture category, and a bit miffed about the demotion of the Honorary Awards to an event outside the regular show, but today’s list of new members of the Academy gives me a little cause for hope. These are the people who will vote on the nominees in coming years and I’m actually surprised: I recognise most of the names. Don’t get me wrong, these are only 134 new members in an organisation of 5000. This announcement by itself won’t move the Oscars back to the centre of popular culture where they belong, but – if the Academy can stick to its guns on this one – it may prove a better way of incorporating mainstream tastes than simply doubling the size of the Academy’s net.

Marlon Brando with his trophy... and his Oscar...

Marlon Brando with his trophy... and his Oscar...

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Opening This Week: Coraline

There’s a relatively small movie opening in Irish theatres this weekend alongside Star Trek that might be worth a look for those who can’t tell their Romulans from their Klingons. It’s called Coraline and it’s a stop-motion fairytale from the guy who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas (that’s Henry Selick, not Tim Burton – contrary to popular believe) and from the pen of Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Mirror Mask).

Coraline opens tomorrow

Coraline opens tomorrow

I’ve yet to see it – the summer blockbuster season is becoming as crowded as the January awards season, dammit – but the reviews are hugely positive, pointing to a sleeper hit that will likely develop a cult following. From what I hear, if space battles and franchise reboots aren’t for you, this could be worth a look.

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Coraline is a stop-motion fantasy film directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach), starring Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives, Tomorrow Never Dies), Jennifer Saunders (French & Saunders, Friends), Dawn French (French & Saunders, The Vicar of Dibley) and Dakota Fanning (Push). It was released in the US on the 6th February 2009, and opens in the UK on the 8th May 2009.