The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Animation / Family / Fantasy / Musical
Disney || PG - 76 minutes - $39.99 || August 26, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-09-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Henry Selick
Writer(s): Tim Burton (story/characters), Michael McDowell (adaptation), Caroline Thompson (screenplay)
Cast: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Reubens


Theatrical Release Date: October 29, 1993


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Introduction by Tim Burton (BD Exclusive)
  • Feature Commentary
  • Deleted Storyboards
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Tim Burton's Original Poem
  • Jack's Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour
  • Frankenweenie Uncut
  • Vincent: Short Film
  • Still Galleries
  • Promotional Material
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.66)
  • English (7.1 TrueHD), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The Nightmare Before Christmas finally arrives on Blu-ray with a brand new transfer, amazing sound quality and all new extras. After waiting nearly a decade we finally get a new releases that improves on the old in nearly every way imaginable.

The film is about Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon, singing by Danny Elfman) who just so happens to be The Pumpkin King of Halloween Town - a town that has a very Gothic feel to it and every Halloween has a fantastic celebration. Jack begins to get a bit bored with doing the same thing over and over and while in the forest he stumbles upon a door etched into a tree that resembles a Christmas tree (as well as others like Easter Town, Thanksgiving Town etc.). When he gets sucked in he finds himself in a wonderful world where people give gifts, hang lights on trees and appear to be having great fun.

With the idea of Christmas firmly planted in Jacks head he returns to Halloween Town with the dream of going back to Christmas Town to replace Sandy Claws (as he believes it to be) so he can enjoy both holidays. He quickly enlists the help of all the townsfolk including the soft spoken stitched-doll Sally (Catherine O'Hara) and Oogie Boogies (Ken Page) boys Lock, Shock and Barrel. After the townsfolk come up with their twist of Christmas, Jack goes back to Christmas Town where he brings his vision of a Halloween themed-Christmas to them.

Due to the films short run time (76 minutes) a lot of things get lost in the process. For one the characters are simply not fleshed out enough. Jack tends to have some serious mood changes way to often and Sally is the supposed love interest but her and Jack hardly get any screen time together. Then we have Oogie Boogie who is the apparent 'villain' of the film but he's hardly in it. Because I have not watched the film since the 2000 DVD release, I had forgotten much of the plot of the film. After playing through Kingdom Hearts on the PlayStation 2 and even the poorly received "Nightmare Before Christmas" Xbox game, my memory has been tainted a bit and I remembered Oogie being much more of a presence in the film and this simply is not so.

As much as people clamour how great this film in, I really feel itís simply an average film that is often regarded as being better simply due to the unique style of the film. Does it have a great story? Absolutely. But after re-watching Corpses Bride right after Nightmare... I really think Corpse is a little bit stronger and has more fleshed out characters. Still, the fact that this film took nearly three years to complete and required hundreds of people to make - you are in for a treat if you've never seen this before.

Itís hard to walk anywhere and not see teen girls plastered with Nightmare Before Christmas logos and decals all over their body. Whether it be a button, purse, T-Shirt, there is no denying that Nightmare has been a popular through merchandise for well over a decade. Hot Topic clearly has built a business around the film and every September they unleash more merchandise to sell to the young masses. This film will no doubt make some amazing sales this Holiday season (in both Blu-ray and DVD) and rightfully so.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are presented in SD (480i) unless otherwise noted.

This release includes a very nice shiny slip cover that houses both discs (50GB Blu-ray disc and "Disney File" on a separate disc).

Exclusive Introduction by Tim Burton (20 Seconds; HD) - Easily one the lamest Blu-ray exclusive features ever has Tim Burton introducing the movie simply saying how wonderful things will look in Blu-ray. Really, really lame. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Commentary by Tim Burton, Director Henry Selick and Music Designer Danny Elfman - A very odd commentary track that was recorded separately and then spliced together for this release. Pretty interesting.

Deleted Storyboards (5 Minutes) - Three different storyboards that were never fully animated for the film. Optional Commentary available by Burton.

Deleted Scenes (5 Minutes) - Only one of these is an actual deleted scene (the others are merely extended) but I can see why all of these were cut or trimmed. Since the film is only 70 minutes long (minus the start and end credits) itís a bit odd to see why these were cut since the film is already very short.

The Making of The Nightmare Before Christmas (24 Minutes) - If you're a fan of Nightmare I'm sure this will probably be one of the first things you watch after the film. A very informative track that incorporates interviews with tons of individuals.

Tim Burtonís Original Poem Narrated by Christopher Lee (12 Minutes; HD) - Pretty self explanatory here... I wasn't very interested in this but I'm sure fans will eat this up.

Whatís This? Jack's Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour (45 Minutes; HD) - There are two versions of this, a short one and a long one. I opted for the extended one as it goes into much more detail with actually employees from the park and gives us great background information on the attraction. The shorter version of this oddly enough includes a Trivia Track.

Frankenweenie Uncut (31 Minutes) - Probably one of the best features on the disc is the 1984 short that Tim Burton plans on remaking in the very near future (end of 2009). Includes a new introduction from Tim Burton.

Vincent: Short Film (6 Minutes) - An early short film by Burton (though not as strong as Frankenweenie).

Disney File - This is Disney's unique name for "Digital Copy" where you are allowed to transfer a small portable version of the film that you can play either in Windows Media Player or through iTunes (and you're iPod). It is worth noting that Disney has upped the MSRP for this catalog title by $5 so in reality, instead of giving the Digital Copy away for free like other studios typically do, here we are forced to pay for it. At that point I'd much rather have the DVD version included (like Disney is doing for Sleeping Beauty) so I could play the film anywhere.

Some other minor special features included are Still Galleries of Halloween Town, Christmas Town and The Real World. But wait... that's not all! We also get a look at some of the posters and trailers for the film. Still not done... there is also a Storyboard-to-film Comparison (5 Minutes) and the ever useless D-Box Motion Code for the fifteen people in American who actually own one of this very expensive chairs.

I only really have one big issue with this release and that most of the special features are presented in SD. Shame they couldn't at least get Frankenweenie in HD as I imagine that will be a heavily played features by most fans.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 (AVC/MPEG-4) on a 50GB disc. Iíve owned the Special Edition DVD since 2000 and quickly sold it when the Blu-ray was announced. That transfer was very soft and littered with artifacts and I knew Disney would not let us down for the Blu-ray release...and they didn't! Everything here is beautiful. Right from the start all of your favorite characters look simply amazing. You can see the slightest detail in all of them and Halloween Town has never looked better. Whites do sometimes tend to have a small halo effect around them (Jacks head is notorious for this), but that's exactly how Burton wanted it, so don't fret. When Jack travels to Christmas Town things are so very vibrant...this movie was made with Hi-Def in mind. While I did notice a few specks here and there I can easily overlook it for what may be one of Disney's finest catalog releases to date.

Disney brings one of the most requested catalog titles to Blu-ray with an amazing English Dolby 7.1 (!) TrueHD track as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, French and Spanish. Disney is no stranger to 7.1 releases (Hannah Montana) and here they did an outstanding job bringing the world of Halloween Town to life. The slightest sounds are all present and the track makes excellent use of all speakers. Since the film is a musical I was delighted to hear all my favorite songs of the past in amazing lossless. A small note, please make sure you select the TrueHD track in the audio options as Dolby Digital is pre-selected by default.



.::OVERALL::.

If you're under the age of thirty I find it hard to believe you have never seen The Nightmare Before Christmas before. Its heavily played on cable networks and if you walk into Hot Topic you are instantly spoon-fed numerous Jack Skellington merchandise. While itís not one of my favorite films it still should be considered a Disney "classic" and since the Blu-ray version is so nice I recommend this as an instant purchase.