What’s this? This is Halloween. Kidnap the Sandy Claws. Making Christmas. Do I have these catchy songs stuck in your head yet? They certainly get firmly planted in mine every time I watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which I have a tradition of viewing just after Halloween, as the Christmas season rolls in – when two holidays collide. But now that tradition has a twist. With the release of the Blu-ray 3D version of the film, this stop-motion classic is more enjoyable than ever.
Generally, I’m against the notion of converting a 2D film to 3D, a process often called post-conversion. It’s an unnatural way of forcing a third viewing dimension into something that was never intended to have it. But in the case of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” it works quite well. In fact, this film was one of the first I’d ever heard of being “converted” to 3D, long before 3D had fully set in as a Hollywood fad several years ago. The conversion result for “Nightmare” is not, and could never be, as good as if the movie had been shot in 3D, but it’s about as good as a post-conversion can get.
Stop-motion animation is inherently a 3D medium, even if shot and shown in 2D. There’s a certain amount of depth than can be perceived even when watching this film in 2D, particularly on the high-quality 1080p transfer found on this and the previous Blu-ray release. But when the third dimension is applied, the hand-animated characters seem that much more lifelike in front of the added depth of a background seemingly set back further into the screen. Moreover, a few of the film’s more Halloween-like moments, including glowing Jack-O-Lanterns and whispy, flying ghosts, seem to hang in the air.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a visually dark film by design, with TIm Burton’s aesthetic apparent throughout. As such, my usual complaint about 3D glasses darkening the image is rather irrelevant here, as it only darkens and already dark and desaturated picture. The only scenes to suffer seem to be those set in Christmastown, where bright colors are not quite as vibrant as they should be.
That one negative aside, there’s little else bad to say about this new 3D home release of one of my favorite films of all time. Though fans like myself who have bought this film several times already, once on DVD and again on Blu-ray, will find some frustration in this 3D combo pack containing no new extras beyond the previous Blu-ray release. While those extras are fantastic, particularly the full HD tour of the Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction at Disneyland, they’re not new. The only 3D content found in this release is the film itself, along with a menu and a trailer or two.
Tim Burton fans looking forward to the upcoming 3D, black and white, stop-motion film “Frankenweenie” will certainly enjoy seeing the live-action short film version that Burton created for Disney years ago included on this release. And as has become the norm, this 3D release sports a collectible lenticular on the cover featuring Jack and Sally walking along the film’s iconic curved hill, with smiling pumpkins underneath.
Those who don’t already own “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on Blu-ray should quickly snatch up this new combo pack, not only offering the best home release of the film to date, with high-quality HD visuals and crisp audio tracks, but also to enjoy one of the few post-conversion films that was actually worth the time and effort to convert to 3D.
(Note: You may have noticed with this article, I’ve decided to scrap the previous format I’d used for home release review, separating aspects of the release into sections about picture quality, packaging, etc. Those aspects will still be covered in each review, as needed, but not specifically or separately categorized as such. I feel my thoughts flow better when written as a whole article instead of broken up into pieces. Hopefully you do too.)