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A Marvellous Animation, Presented in Glorious 3D
on 26 November 2016
Dating from 1993, if you know anything about 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' then you will hopefully agree with me that it is a quite marvellous stop-motion animated musical short-film produced by Tim Burton (but not directed by him).
I have owned it on DVD (the 1-disc 'Special Edition, not the later-released 2-disc 'Collector's Edition') for quite some years and never got around to considering a Blu-ray purchase of it.
However, quite recently I got a new TV which was 3D-capable and, despite not necessarily being a massive convert to the format, have watched a few films in 3D with often very positive feelings about 3D.
I thought the 3D Blu-ray of 'Prometheus' was pretty good (but occasionally things looked a bit 'artificial') and, in parts, that of 'Captain America: The First Avenger' (except the 3D relied more on conveying the effect of things 'flying' out of the screen towards you).
So, having heard about an offering for this film on a 'digitally restored and remastered' 2D/3D Blu-ray (the 3D conversion dating from 2011, several years after the 2D Blu-ray) and after some good reviews I bought it (£7.49, Nov 16).
Having watched it last night, I can unequivocally say that for me this film looks and sounds quite superb in 3D (viewed on a 4K/UHD resolution TV) and is not just a definite improvement over the DVD, but also (after comparison) offers an improved HD picture quality even when compared to the 2D Blu-ray.
When I watched it, I had a near-permanent smile on my face from the sheer delight it provoked !
It is the kind of 3D presentation which, despite it being a conversion rather than filmed in 3D, shows that when done properly an excellent film can be improved further-still (and with other offerings I've seen, eg cinema 'Gravity' or 'Dr Strange', make an average film very acceptable !).
The charming story is quite simple: "In a fantasy world, 'Pumpkin King' Jack Skellington has become bored of arranging his usual successful Halloween so decides to direct his 'talents' towards Christmas instead.....".
With dialogue that is largely sung and/or in rhyme, a marvellous Danny Elfman musical soundtrack, the look of the scenery, range/look of characters and the little details presented to us as the plot evolves is masterly; the quality of the animation is excellent.
There is so much going on that much can be missed the first time, an example I can give of the wonderful 'little details' is the capture I've added as a photo to this review, with a snippet of the ingenious brainstorming Christmas 'formula' Jack has written on a blackboard - the 'chestnuts over open fire' element never fails to crease me up !
This product has both Blu-ray 'versions' in it, and (when compared to the Special Edition DVD I own) adds a new commentary track on the 3D disc, adding Tim Burton/Danny Elfman but removing director of photography Pete Kozachik; the 2D disc has all the other extras, a lot of which are also 'new'; if you have the 2-disc 'Collector's Edition' I believe there is little new content though...
What both Blu-rays share is a cracking Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack, which is both suitably forceful and hugely atmospheric.
But it's with the 3D where things are REALLY elevated of course.
I found the picture to be consistently pristine, vibrant with supreme and constantly-present levels of dimension and depth.
I really got the impression of 'shape' and 'form' to everything (something I've found lacking in most 3D films I've seen) with, for example, the unmistakable feeling of being able to see down/into holes/voids etc.
Similarly, rather than relying on depth-of-field/focus 'tricks', the 3D effectively conveyed the feeling of foreground/background and, for example, things passing in-between what is in front/behind them.
Everything was SO much better than the 2D Blu-ray, including the core picture quality which for me was sharper when viewed in 3D; I am so glad that I ignored some rather 'sniffy' commercial reviews of the 3D quality, my verdict is very different !
Perhaps those reviewers didn't watch the 3D film in the best environment, which for me requires the room to be dark ?
I've also attached photos of the case exterior and discs as Amazon omit them.
So, 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is a movie to enjoy further still in HD, with a glorious HD soundtrack, and even more (to unprecedented levels) if you can view in 3D; an added bonus is the improved number of disc extras when compared to the Special Edition DVD.