Synopsis: Can Christmas be saved? Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere!
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’: the animation, style and concept are exactly my kind of dark brew. But, then, it’s a frickin’ musical. And, to top it off, I hate the tunes – so it’s an even less bearable musical.
Well, this is one time where you just have to grin and bear it: to miss out on such an amazing cinematic spectacle would be a real tragedy, quite frankly. Seriously.
Until Toy Story’s amazing CGI, this was the best animation one could get. It’s, by far, the best stop-motion animation that I’ve seen, and it’s superior to 2D animation in that it feels more real; it has depth and creates a more tangible reality.
There’s so much detail in the animation that it’s a distraction. It’s virtually impossible to capture everything in one sitting – you’d almost have to freeze-frame your way through the movie. What a setting, what a world they’ve created!
…Which, b-t-w, I’ve NEVER seen looking SO good. I didn’t have the good fortune of seeing it in cinemas upon its release, but the Blu-ray edition definitely trumps VHS, laserdisc and DVD (yes, I’ve seen all of those editions over the years! ).
From an audio/visual standpoint, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is a wonder to behold – so it deserves the best possible treatment! The lossless audio track was breathtaking; it was so dynamic and vibrant – I’ve never heard it sound this good. It was quite something.
I liked the tunes more than I ever have before. Until now, I was of the definite opinion that Danny Elfman’s delighfully playful original demos were better than the final product (which utilized other arrangements and vocalists!). I even preferred the many diverse covers that have been recorded over the years. After watching the Blu-ray, I’m not so sure anymore. It may very well be that the 7.1 mix was so lively that it finally overcame its limitations.
Nevertheless, the songs aren’t that exciting. And, since I dislike musicals, it is a two-fold impediment. But the lyrics are so hilariously twisted that it’s hard to dislike the tunes; I dearly want to love these unloveable little ditties.
As is customary with Tim Burton-related films, the story is the weak point. While it’s a complete tale, it’s very loose and lacking in detail; there are a number of conveniences and/or coincidences that shouldn’t work. Thankfully, this film manages to trigger our suspension of disbelief in just the right way to get by.
The thing that I’ve always found strange is that Tim Burton’s name is all over this film, when all he did was create the characters and basic story. I don’t know how involved he was in the final product, also being a “producer”, but it seems to me that most of the work was done by other people. In my mind, the director, Henry Selick, should get a lot more credit for coordinating this masterpiece than he currently does.
Because there’s no mistaking it: ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is a modern masterpiece, and it’s a classic much like the original ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ is. I’m surprised that such a spooky and macabre Christmas story has won over the masses, but I’m very glad that it did: I’d hate to imagine such a fine a piece of art being relegated to obscurity.