I’m just going to come right out and say it: The Nightmare Before Christmas was destined to be a Blu-ray 3D hit, and sure enough, 3D is the only way to watch this awesome Disney classic. Each fall, the Disney Parks outfit one of their signature rides (The Haunted Mansion) for a seasonal celebration of this film specifically, and you know it’s for good reason. The Nightmare Before Christmas has a huge following, and Disney knows its potential to immerse people in the Nightmare universe. To see Jack Skellington and crew in “real life” on The Haunted Mansion is fun. And seeing them in 3D via this Blu-ray 3D release will bring similar warm fuzzies every day.
When The Nightmare Before Christmas Blu-ray first shipped in 2008, people were excited for the high-definition release but cautious about how the video transfer would hold up. By and large it did well, augmenting the pleasant surprise of D-BOX Motion Code support. With its recent Blu-ray 3D release, The Nightmare Before Christmas inspires the same visual caution considering its age. But fret not: The Nightmare Before Christmas looks better than it ever has on Blu-ray 3D.
You shouldn’t interpret that as saying Disney updated the video to something wacky like 2160p, that they re-mastered the palette or re-shot the film entirely using high-definition 3D cameras. The video itself actually appears no different than the three-year-old Blu-ray release, with vibrant colors, rich blacks and just enough grain to look like the theatrical release but not so much that it seems old and tired. But the 3D presentation does wonders for The Nightmare Before Christmas because it makes the stop-motion style pop from the screen, almost as if you were there in the studio during production.
Animated films tend to deliver some of the best 3D visuals, but The Nightmare Before Christmas is the first stop-motion animated film I’ve seen in the Blu-ray 3D format. If the other studios can achieve what Disney did here, I hope it won’t be my last. The 3D effects of the sets vary considerably, from a Christmastown that absolutely vibrates with foreground and background objects to a subtle graveyard that only pops when a lonesome tombstone comes into view. But while the number of 3D effects may vary, their excellence does not. The sets of The Nightmare Before Christmas were composed with a surprising amount of depth, and it’s not been until this Blu-ray 3D release that all that depth could truly be appreciated. And appreciate it you will.
Environs like Christmastown just pulsate with 3D life, and Halloweentown, though not quite as dynamic, holds its own with its mix of wild architecture and wacky decor. Even individual set pieces within the world, such as the curly-cued hilltop and the Boogey Man’s lair, deliver 3D effects that I never saw coming.
The dimensionality of the characters isn’t quite as strong, with the notable exception of the Boogey Man and Mayor, both of whom have rather “deep” statures. Jack Skellington, for instance, is a skinny guy, so unless he’s pointing at or away from the camera, you’ll notice some depth but won’t be wowed. Instead, it’s the characters’ interaction with other and their movement through the worlds that really help The Nightmare Before Christmas shine in the Blu-ray 3D format.
If there’s one disappointment in The Nightmare Before Christmas on Blu-ray 3D, it’s the lack of D-BOX Motion Code support. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have given this a second thought, but considering it was present for the standard Blu-ray release three years ago, I expected the Motion Code to be included on this 3D release as well. (It was there for the Despicable Me Blu-ray 3D release, for example.) The combination of 3D effects and physical movement is hard to top, so I really missed it here. All I can figure is that Disney tweaked the audio track somehow between the Blu-ray release and this Blu-ray 3D release, because that’s how the D-BOX code travels. What those changes are, I couldn’t tell you; all I know is The Nightmare Before Christmas sounds great, and the surround-sound really adds to the 3D immersion factor.
If you’ve got a 3D TV and like The Nightmare Before Christmas, consider this review your permission slip to go buy the film right now. If you don’t have a 3D TV but own a Blu-ray Disc player, you should also go buy this set because it includes the 3D and 2D versions, thus “future proofing” your purchase if you decide to upgrade to 3D later. I’ve been a quiet fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas for years now, but going to Disneyland last fall to see The Haunted Mansion Holiday reinvigorated my interest. As we close in on the Halloween season, there isn’t a more perfect Blu-ray 3D release right now than The Nightmare Before Christmas to add to your collection.
Click here to check Amazon’s pricing for The Nightmare Before Christmas Blu-ray 3D (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy).
Score: 8.8 — Outstanding and surprising depth that really showcases the dimensionality of stop-motion films, although the sets deliver a bit more than the characters.