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August 24th, 2012

Movie Review - ParaNorman


Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elain Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodele Ferland, Tempest Bledssoe, John Goodman, Alex Borstein, and more...

Directed by: Chris Butler and Same Fell Written by: Chris Butler Cinematography by: Tristan Oliver Original Music by: Jon Brion

Premise: Norman can see and talk to ghosts, but his family doesn't believe him and the kids at school think he's a freak. Then he meets his reclusive uncle, who tells Norman he has a duty he has to take on - keeping the witch asleep so she won't raise the dead. Except the instructions Norman gets from him aren't complete and he's not able to figure out what to do before the dead rise from their graves! (Rated PG)


1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: All the voice actors were great. Kudos to Kodi Smit-McPhee and Tucker Albrizi for their portrayals of Norman and Neal. Yet the most fun came from some of the side actors, like Tempestt Bledsoe. Her character, Sheriff Hooper, was quite funny.

2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: "ParaNorman" is the work of Laika Entertainment. I'd originally thought the film was purely CGI art, but it was more than that. "ParaNorman" is actually a work of stop motion photography! Each of the puppets has an inner metal skeleton to help pose the puppet for each frame. The official website stated that just the zombies rising from the grave scene took a year to film. Dang. 

Add to the great puppetry some beautifully and super detailed sets as well as added special effects, and the results are quite amazing. There were many, very well done, visual gags that added a lot of flavor to the film. 

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: While the main gist of the story was predictable, there were still several surprises in the plot. These surprises made for nice plot twists and take the story in a direction at several places that the audience will not anticipate but totally appreciate. 

There was a lot of subtle humor sprinkled throughout the film. The scene with the man waiting for his chips to come out of the vending machine then seeing the zombies coming for him and his reaction to the situation was hilarious. There were also several in-jokes to give more fun to the adults. The Scooby Doo reference made me laugh out loud it was so unexpected. Homage was even given to the old black and white monster movies, the lettering styles and posters very much like those in that era. One of the sneakiest jokes was about the Puritan zombies and their seeing a poster for a witch casino, advertising all the vices they'd come to the new world to get away from. By seeing such a thing in the middle of their town, I am sure they felt cursed indeed. 

Conclusion: A fun movie with plenty of fodder for the adults as well as the kids. The few gross moments will definitely give the kids a nice thrill. 

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Matinee Price)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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