2012 looks to be a rewarding year for fans of supernatural-themed 3D stop-motion animated flicks. Nearly two months before Tim Burton’s feature-length Frankenweenie adaptation hits theaters, moviegoers will get the chance to check out ParaNorman: an original work concocted by the minds over at LAIKA, Inc. (the studio behind Coraline).

ParaNorman revolves around the misadventures of young Norman Babcock (voice of Kodi Smit-McPhee), an outcast whose obsession with all things ghoulish emanates from his ability to see and communicate with the dead. That ability comes in handy when a centuries-old curse is unleashed on Norman’s hometown, and only he – along with a misfit gang of his peers – can save the rest of their community from armies of zombies, witches, and other nasty supernatural creatures.

Based on previous trailers, it’s been made clear that ParaNorman doesn’t have the benefit of celebrated source material to draw inspiration from (a la Coraline) and it won’t feature the catchy musical numbers found in The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride. It nonetheless still looks like an amusing and overall pleasant bit of zany, family-friendly, stop-motion fun.

Check out the third theatrical trailer (followed by the official poster) for ParaNorman and see if you agree:

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LAIKA’s animation work on ParaNorman does appear to be top-notch and very expressive; the film’s various characters move with almost CGI fluidity, but remain stylized enough in their design so as to not merely look like awkward knockoffs of what you might find in a computer-animated movie. There’s also an enjoyable 1980s throwback vibe to ParaNorman, with its stereotypical adolescent players (The Outcast, The Chunky Geek, The Bully, The Jock, The Blonde Ditz) and a “kids going on a dangerous adventure” storyline that recalls such classic titles as The Goonies and Gremlins.

In other words: ParaNorman may not prove to be the best stop-motion title produced to date, but you definitely could do far worse, as far as entertainment for the kids goes.

ParaNorman opens in 2D and 3D theaters around the U.S. on August 17th, 2012.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers