Friday, 14 June 2013

''ParaNorman'' and ''The 39 Steps''

ParaNorman (2012 movie)

Directed by: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Released: 2012
Country: United States

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Micah Ferland, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch

Genres: Comedy horror, Adventure, Fantasy, Family

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Norman is a boy with an unusual quality: he can communicate with dead people, including his late grandmother. His parents don't appreciate this quality. He is bullied at school, being called a ''freak''.  He learns in school about a person who was accused of being a witch, three centuries ago. The ''witch'' gave a terrible curse to the seven people who had accused her, causing them to become living deads (zombies).

One day, Norman comes across his elderly and strange uncle Prerderghast, who tells him that since he can communicate with dead people, only he can save the town from the zombies by keeping the curse under control. Norman is puzzled, but after the sudden death of Prenderghast, his (Prenderghast's) ghost visits him, giving him instruction about how to keep the curse under control.

How can Norman control such a terrible curse, all by himself? There follows twists, perils, revelations, and humor.

ParaNorman was a fun watch. I liked the overwhelming humor, the comedic horror elements, the twist, and the truth. The voice actors do a great job. The visuals are also great. The scene I loved most was the final confrontation between the ''witch'' and Norman. It was superbly designed, and the scene following this, the scene at the forest, was also beautiful. Overall, it was a light and refreshing film.

3.5 out of 5

The 39 Steps (1935 movie)

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1935
Country: United Kingdom

Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Main cast: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie, Helen Haye, Wylie Watson

Rating: 4 out of 5


Before he moved to Hollywood in 1939, Alfred Hitchcock, one of my favorite directors of all time, made many films in Britain, almost none of which are particularly remembered as his great movies. However, two of his British films, The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, are often considered among his great films. The 39 Steps is often considered to be one of the first movies where Hitchcock showed his common elements: the excellent suspense mixed with humor, the man struggling to prove his innocence, and one of the very memorable features of his films, the blonde heroine. This is the film where Hitchcock introduced a blonde heroine who is found in many of Hitchcock films.

In the midst of the chaos that suddenly start in a music hall,  a man named Richard Hannay meets a strange and mysterious woman who looks very afraid and requ
ests Hannay to take her to his home. Hannay, though puzzled at the woman's attitude, does so. There, the woman introduces herself  as Annabella Smith demands absolute security and solitude, and tells Hannay that she is working to unravel spies who are going to smuggle a secret very valuable to the country. But because of her work, the spies are wanting to kill her. Hannay doesn't know whether to believe her or not, but nevertheless shelters her. Late at night, when he is sound asleep, Annabella rushes to him, apparently having been stabbed by the spies, and soon dies. Hannay, confused what to do, decides to go to Scotland, where Annabella was supposed to meet somebody important. Meanwhile, word gets around that it was Hannay who killed Annabella. Now Hannay can prove his innocence in only a single way: he has to expose the spies who are planning to smuggle the secret out of the country.

Alfred Hitchcock's excellently directed film really fascinated me. I hadn't watched a Hitchcock movie for a while (the last I'd watched was Notorious, back in April), so it was great to return to his movies! I liked the depth of the situation and the characters. Madeleine Carrol, who played the first ever blonde heroine in Hitchcock films, gives a very remarkable performance. Overall, it is an enjoyable, suspenseful film and one of the earliest marks of the greatness that Hitchcock would be showing in future with such great films as Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, Strangers on a Train, and Shadow of a Doubt.

4 out of 5

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