September 01, 2011
| by Rachel Cericola
Earlier this year, Disney promised to release some of its stock, with new 3D effects. One of those films is the recent release, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Frankly, the studio couldn’t have picked a better title to receive this high-tech update.
Some 3D films are plagued by dark imagery. Well, that’s what Nightmare is all about. It’s cool, it’s creepy, and it’s completely delightful—even in 3D.
The film follows the post-Halloween story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. Despite another successful season of ghosts and ghouls, Jack is down. That is, until he discovers the Christmas spirit. Jack soon takes it upon himself to fill Santa’s black boots for the holiday, injecting a little Grinch-y fright into the sleepy little Christmas Town.
Disney previously released this perennial favorite on Blu-ray. If you have that, you already know what a stellar image this Blu-ray has. There’s a ton of detail and depth—and the latter is only enhanced by the new addition of 3D effects.
Going into this review, we expected the film to have all kinds of pop-out effects. During the opening “This is Halloween” musical number, it seems like the film could have packed in more of a 3D punch. From there, however, the film displays some wonderful depth. That’s what this new transfer is really all about. It’s not as in-your-face as we would expect from such a visual film, but there’s definitely some nice pop throughout.
Now, there are a few pop-out type visuals. Whenever Jack gets close to the camera, it gets a little close for comfort—in a very cool way. Also, there are a few instances where you’ll want to put out your tongue to catch the snowflakes.
Even better than the addition of the depth is that the 3D doesn’t seem to take away any of the film’s gorgeous detail. Jack’s outfit, his fingers, Sally’s stitches, and the other creepy creatures all look wonderful. Colors are also creepy, but look great here. The 3D effect doesn’t wash out anything. Black levels, in particular, are very bold and inky.
Disney gave this release a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track, which is where this release really excels. Expect to hear plenty of sounds creeping around your entire speaker setup; the pitter-patter of pointy shoes, the creaks and echoes, and the film’s devilish soundtrack (thanks again Danny Elfman!) are all real standouts.
Besides the 3D, there’s nothing too surprising when it comes to extras. Still, it is a nice set. Disney has packed this film inside one of its infamous combo packs. Besides the 3D Blu-ray, you also get a 2D Blu-ray of the movie and a combo disc that has both the standard-def DVD and Digital Copy.
The 2D Blu-ray has all of the same special features as the 2008 Blu-ray release. Yes, something new would have been nice. Something in 3D would have been even better. Instead, all of the extras are included on the 2D Blu-ray disc. This includes the following:
- Audio Commentary: This was recorded in 2008, and features producer Tim Burton, director Henry Selick and composer Danny Elfman. The three actually recorded the commentary separately, so there’s no actual conversation going on. It plays more audio from a making-of short, but it’s playing over the movie. That said, the gem is Elfman, a frequent Burton collaborator, accomplished musician and composer, as well as the singing voice of Jack Skellington.
- What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour: This is a 37-minute featurette on Disney World’s Haunted Mansion attraction. It’s extremely in-depth and leaves no bone unturned. It also has the option to watch the short with a trivia track, which includes additional info about the attraction in an on-screen pop-up window.
- Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated by Christopher Lee: Legendary actor Christopher Lee, who has nothing to do with the actual film, reads one of Tim Burton’s poems for 12 minutes. He’s not just standing there, though; it’s accompanied by some cool concept art.
- Frankenweenie: In 1984, Burton created this little black-and-white film about a boy who brings his dog back from the dead, starring Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern and Barret Oliver. Disney fired him for it, and now some 27 years (and multiple film hits) later, they are working on a full-length remake using stop-motion animation. This was the short that really started it all, and is worthy of your 31 minutes.
- Vincent: This is a pre-Frankenweenie short. It features the stop-motion animation, Vincent Price narration, and the first appearance of Jack Skellington. At 6 minutes, it’s also a must for fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: Just to make sure you have absolutely everything, Disney has included this 1993 promo piece, which features info about storyboards, animation, puppets, music, and everything else related to the film.
- The Worlds of The Nightmare Before Christmas: This dissects the film via three little shorts: “Halloween Town,” “Christmas Town,” and “The Real World.”
- Deleted Storyboards, Deleted Animated Sequences, Storyboard-to-Film Comparison, Posters and Trailers: These sections are pretty self-explanatory and fairly typical fare for this type of release, with the Storyboards and Sequences being the only sections truly worth viewing.
Did Disney need to release Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D? Probably not. However, if you haven’t picked up the Blu-ray yet, you certainly can’t go wrong with this set. The 3D isn’t as awesome as we were hoping for, but it works, and doesn’t taint the gorgeous image that’s included here.
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.