ParaNorman SteelBook 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 264, November/December 2022

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
LAIKA/Shout! Factory
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Scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude hmor and language
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-100)
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Sam Fell & Chris Butler
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1, DTS 5.1
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From the makers of "Coraline," "ParaNorman" tells the story of Norman, a boy who must use his gift of seeing and speaking with the dead to save his town from a centuries-old curse about to come true. Caught in a wild race against time, the young ghoul whisperer will find his paranormal abilities pushed to their otherworldly limits as he bravely summons up all that makes a heroŚcourage and compassion. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Director Sam Fell and Writer/Director Chris Butler; the featureatess: Inside LAIKA: Discovering The Characters And Effects Of ParaNorman" (HD 12:51), Inside LAIKA: Revisiting The Puppets With LAIKA's Animation Team", the Preliminary Animatic Sequences "Walking With Ghosts," "Bromance," and "Missing Ghosts" with optional commentary by Butler and Fell (HD 09:09); Peering Through The Veil, a behind-the-scenes featurette in nine parts (HD 40:49); seven original featurettes: You Don't Become A Hero By Being Normal (HD 02:48), A Norman Childhood (HD 02:08), Playing As A Profession (HD 02:23), Making Norman (HD 01:38), This Little Light (HD 01:19), Have You Ever Seen A Ghost? (HD 02:16), and The Zombies Of ParaNorman (HD 02:19); still galleries, trailer and feature-length storyboards

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally of the stop-motion/CG imagery and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. According to the press release, the elements were painstakingly remastered by the team at LAIKA led by CEO Travis Knight and Visual Effects Supervisor Steve Emerson. The picture is absolutely spellbinding. The stop-frame animated motion, shot with 60 Canon EOS SD Mark II SLR cameras, is impeccable. Originally, the picture was reviewed as an impressive Blu-ray 3D animated experience with a finely resolved immersive presentation. Delineation is incredibly refined, with sharp and precise edges and textures. Resolution is extraordinary in the level of refined detail in facial features, hair, clothing, and object texture. The sense of depth perspective is retained with natural dimensionally. The stop-motion animation is incredibly amazing and presents a sense of scariness. Colors are warm and vibrant with deep, solid blacks. The color palette is vivid and naturally hued, with excellent saturation and character. HDR contrast is perfectly balanced, with revealing shadow delineation. Blacks are incredibly well defined and shaded. This is such a stunning visual experience that impresses, with an imaginative and dazzling parade of eye candy that is absolutely amazing! (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is beautifully recorded, with superb fidelity. Foley sound effects are perfectly rendered, with impressive low-level clarity and definition. The music score is fantastic, with a wide and deep soundstage and revealing instrumental timbre that is impressive. The ADR is excellent and delivers convincing dialogue spatial integration with dialogue directionality. Atmospheric sound effects enhance the mood and provide dimension and dynamic character, even impressive phantom center back surround imaging and height sensation. Surround envelopment is holosonic«, with aggressive localized soundfield delineation. Bass extension sounds perfectly natural and at times extends to sub-25 Hz frequencies in the .1 LFE channel during the more intense action scenes. Pans and surround localizations are heard throughout and enhance the dimensionality of the experience that transverses the entire soundfield and immerses the listener with impressive dynamic contrasts.

The Immersive Sound element is comprised of an extension of the orchestral score and various sound effects such as thunder, loud crowd ruckuses, sounds of destructive mayhem etc. On occasion, dialogue outbursts are aggressive. At times, atmospherics also extend occasionally. All in all, the element enhances the sense of spatial dimensionality.

The Dolby Atmos sonics deliver seamless integration of music, sound effects, Foley, and dialogue. (Gary Reber)