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ParaNorman – Limited Edition Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Last year, Shout! Factory introduced the wonderful world of LAIKA animation to their library. They released beefed up editions of the previously released beloved first four films in the studio’s canon. Now, they are beginning the upgrade to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. On December 13th, they’ll be starting with Coraline and ParaNorman. Both films have new 4K transfers as well as Dolby Atmos audio tracks to enhance their performance. All of the extras from before will be included. And if you act right now, they are available in collectible limited edition steelbook packaging. This review will be taking at look at the limited edition steelbook of ParaNorman, which you can order by using the paid Amazon Associates link at the bottom of the review.

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Film

Originally published 9/12/2021

A young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life – only much better. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous and her counterfeit parents try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to save her family and get back home.

Coraline was a game changing experience for animated film when it arrived. A new force was here to be reckoned with; LAIKA Studios. They delivered a stop motion masterpiece of an experience that also successfully utilized the fad new wave of 3D technology sweeping through theaters. An incredible ride from start to finish, the film catered to no certain audience and just was what it was and delivered to those of all ages who came to check it out.

LAIKA’s first film is a spooky film that has a touch in fantasy as well. Coraline feels cribbed from the styles and storytelling of scary story collection books from the 1990s as well as being a love letter to the work of Tim Burton. Even with those inspirations feeling present, its also very much its own beast, showcasing a fresh, new grimm type fairytale for adults and kids of any era and any age. One could easily overlook these factors, but its truly quite a feat what Coraline excels at pulling of and making it look easy while doing so.

Personally, I was quite taken with Coraline when it came out in theaters. It was one of my very favorite films of that decade and one of the best 3D experiences I’ve still had to this day. LAIKA became an instant favorite studio with this film (and their next one would garner them a lifetime pass), which I’ve returned to regularly over the years since. Whether you find it scary, endearing or just overall enjoyable, one can’t deny the power of just how great Coraline is on so many levels.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review from the standard Blu-ray, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail ParaNorman arrives with a new 4K restoration for its upgrade to this format. Like, Coraline, it looks very lovely here on the format, with a sharper picture, better depth, color and details. It feels a little bit bigger of a movie too. This is much more a jump than the Blu-ray to Blu-ray as had been done before.

Depth: Depth of field is quite strong and really puts forth a solid scale with good pushback and spacing in all the environments. Movements have that CGI/Stop motion quality to them and are very smooth and comfortable in their motion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural and really help to impress upon and improve this picture with better contrast and finer details coming through. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite gorgeous here. Its a more natural palette contrasting with some fantastical stuff and it works like gangbusters in the transfer. Much of the mystical green stuff in the film showcases to the benefit of the HDR with a good glow that pops off the screen.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Video Services, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: ParaNorman has a wonderful Atmos track by which to display the film. Its a track with great layering and depth, making each room or exterior come to life. Its a balanced mix that knows perfectly when the score or vocals or effects need to take center stage for the best impact.

Height: From above you get characters crossing camera, magical bursts and even some moans. Its accurate but brings the fun as well.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer really punches good in the film with its magical bursts, shotgun blasts, car crashes, roaring fires and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: This 360 degree presentation really rocks the room and has good power and contributions from all the channels along the way. Every scene is well crafted and realized through ambiance, echo, rolling travel and more.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

ParaNorman – Limited Edition Steelbook is a 2-Disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition previously released by Shout! Factory as well as a collectible steelbook packaging. Also included is an insert booklet. All extras are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Chris Butler and Director Sam Fell

Inside LAIKA: Discovering the Characters and Effects of ParaNorman (HD, 12:51)

Inside LAIKA: Revisiting the Puppets with LAIKA’s Animation Team

  • Courtney Babcock (HD, 1:25)
  • Mitch (HD, 1:35)
  • Norman Babcock (HD, 1:59)
  • Neil (HD, 1:22)
  • Mr. Prenderghast (HD, 1:43)
  • Zombie Judge (HD, 2:09)

Feature-Length Storyboards (HD, 1:32:03)

Peering Through the Veil: Behind the Scenes of ParaNorman (HD, 40:41) 

You Don’t Become a Hero by Being Normal (HD, 2:43)

A Normal Childhood (HD, 2:03)

Playing as a Profession (HD, 2:18)

Making Norman (HD, 1:34)

This Little Light (HD, 1:15)

Have You Ever Seen a Ghost? (HD, 2:11)

The Zombies of ParaNorman (HD, 2:14)

Still Galleries (HD) – Character Art, Concept Art, Behind the Scenes

Trailer (HD, 1:33)

Summary

ParaNorman is one of the best kids’ horror films ever made and definitely argues to be one of the best of the previous decade as well. Shout! Factory and LAIKA upgrade its image and audio quality to handsome to degrees worthy of an upgrade. All extras from the previous edition are carried over. ParaNorman is a film that if its getting a format jump, I’m buying it right away.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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