Category Archives: Animation

Paranorman Movie Review

A few weeks ago I checked out the movie Paranorman, a stop-motion horror/comedy film. The story follows Norman Babcock, an outcast kid who can speak to the dead. When Norman becomes wrapped up in a many-years-old curse, he must rely on his ability to speak with the dead to save his town from devastation.

Paranorman is a surprisingly dark film.  Though it is aimed at children ages 7 to 9, there are many themes and jokes aimed towards an older audience. The story is compelling and keeps the viewer interested until its climactic ending, a few scary jumps here and there, and lots of fun and humor (again sometimes aimed at adults) throughout the film. The film is also very fluid and clean — it’s hard to believe it is a stop-motion film, but as it is from the creators of Coraline this is not surprising.  Overall, Paranorman is a very well-crafted movie and a fun “horror” film to watch with friends or family.

I give Paranorman 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Animated Movies

Many patrons do not realize that, on top of the amazing selection of books and magazines, we also have a great selection of DVDs available for students to check out.  Students in the animation program are fist-pumping right now!  Let’s keep the party going and look at a few of the animated movies available for checkout at the AiMD library!

Disney has been in the animation game for over one hundred years. However, they didn’t always spend their time creating full-length feature films. Quite the opposite — their first feature film was released in 1937.  The company originally produced short cartoons that were shown in theaters before the movie began. These shorts, collectively known as Silly Symphonies, are now available on DVD. Created between 1929-1939, the cartoons give a glimpse into the animation style of Depression-era America.

A more contemporary, yet still classic animated movie is The Secret of NIMH. This 1982 movie focuses on Mrs. Brisby, a field mouse, and her efforts to save her family from the oncoming threat of Farmer Fitzgibbons’ plow. Although marketed as a children’s movie, the content is somewhat darker than most G-rated films. The combination of older animation techniques (such as backlighting and rotoscope) alongside more contemporary, computerized techniques gives this movie its own distinct look and feel.

Most people are familiar with the Japanese animation style known as anime. While many films created in this style are strictly for adults, there is an ever-widening collection of family-friendly films. One example of tame-yet-delightful anime is Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. The film follows two sisters who befriend a large woodland spirit named Totoro. Miyazaki’s films, which often celebrate the natural world, rarely use computer animation, instead relying solely on hand-drawn animation.

An animation technique that isn’t used very often is stop-motion. Fantastic Mr. Fox, directed by Wes Anderson, is a great example of modern stop-motion animation.  Adapted from a Roald Dahl novel, the movie follows the Fox family’s battle to avoid capture by three farmers by retreating underground. Anderson purposely shot the movie at 12 frames per second, as opposed to the standard 24. Using less frames per second made the movement appear choppy. Anderson wanted to emphasize the idea of stop-motion animation to the audience.

Pixar is a giant when it comes to full-length computer-animated films. Although there are many examples of their creative and technical prowess, one that may be especially interesting to animation students is WALL-E.  Since there is little dialogue in the movie, animators studied comedians Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, icons of the silent film era, to work out how to convey emotions and ideas without speech. Live-action sequences incorporated within the animated landscape forced animators to make the animation look as realistic as possible.