Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D
Director: Henry Selick
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Danny Elfman
The 1993 animated fantasy conceived by the ever-creepy Tim Burton returns 13 years later with a 3D makeover. The film is so well-known and so clearly its own peculiar flavor that little need be said about it. The question is whether the 3D-ification is worth popping ten bucks for.
The answer is an unqualified “hell, yes.”
The real questions here are how good 3D tech is going to be these days, and whether a film made more than a decade ago for conventional presentation is even going to look good in 3D. The 3D, no longer managed by the red-and-blue glasses of yore, is fantastic. There are a few rough effects where it’s merely quite good, and much of the time, it’s jaw-dropping, and it makes a fun visual spectacle of a film all the more engrossing.
At this point, one would think everyone who’s going to like this film has seen it, and everyone else has figured out to stay away, but just in case: In the land of perpetual Halloween, the king of the spooks grows bored and wanders into Christmas Town. Infatuated with the novelty of the ungruesome festival, Jack kidnaps Santa Claus and hijacks the holiday, making the annual feast of cloying positivity into something only a 13-year-old goth chick could love. Lessons learned, all can be put right — only if Jack and his adoring Sally can free St. Nick from the evil Oogie Boogie.
It’s a simple plot that dazzles the eye because of the unyeilding inventiveness the animators put on the screen. Danny Elfman’s score has charms — any one song seems to perfectly nail the sound you’d expect in this world — but as a whole it’s almost painfully bombastic. He seems to have composed the entire thing on blunt instruments, and after awhile you realize nearly every overloud tune sounds like the one before.
“Nightmare Before Christmas” is a film that would scare the smallest children — not every animated movie, cartoon or comic book is for kids, of course — but it’s an ideal film for kids just young enough to get a bit of a scare from the (ultimately good-natured) Halloween-scare imagery. That age will vary from kid to kid, but a fair guess would be that if your kid can handle the more intellectual challenges of a spookier Miyazaki movie like “Spirited Away” or “Princess Mononoke,” they should escape Burton and Selick’s ghoulish adventure without, y’know, significant emotional scarring.
And what the hell … it is Halloween …