Tim Burton’s classic will literally leap out at you

Andrew Gaug

Jack Skellington notices the snowflake looks more realistic in Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D. PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY PICTURES

Credit: Jason Hall

13 years ago, Tim Burton, fresh from his hot streak of directing Edward Scissorhands and the first two Batman films, launched what would be one of his trademark films that would not only inspire millions of Hot Topic kids but also prove stop animation is not dead.

Coinciding with Halloween, The Nightmare Before Christmas gets the 3-D treatment that it seemingly always should have had.

The story about Jack Skellington, known as the Pumpkin King is the village of Halloween Town, is notorious for being the most frightening person on Halloween. But after years of scaring people, he grows tired of performing his yearly ritual and, while walking in the woods, stumbles upon a door that leads him into the happiest place he’s ever seen, Christmas Town. Exciting Jack almost too much, he decides to kidnap Santa Claus so he can bring joy to everyone himself.

Throughout the film Burton delivers some of the most dark and gothic visuals that made him famous while balancing it with Jack’s child-like emotion to make everyone happy. Though a good “the grass is always greener on the other side” tale, at 87 minutes the film still feels as if it didn’t have the story to even make it there. A rather useless romantic subplot involving a secret admirer of Jack, Sally, delves into her story without much transition or point. In the end, it just ends up being a forced romantic angle that doesn’t work.

But when seeing a movie in 3-D, the story is secondary to the amazing visuals, and with Nightmare, there are a lot. Ghosts flutter around and come off the screen while still being able to see the background behind them, as if they were actually real. Monsters pop out at the viewers and occasionally objects such as a croquet ball will come out of nowhere and fly off the screen.

In Christmas Town, the bright lights and snow are magnified as it makes a true three dimensional experience as Jack goes from house to house with the snow falling down in the foreground. While watching the movie, it’s hard to imagine the film being played in it’s flat, original state.

Though the 3-D gimmick has been used before to less thrilling results in films such as Spy Kids in 3-D and Friday the 13th Part 3, Burton and his visual maestros do the best with the source material turning what was a typical story into something that comes off the screen as engrossing and, at some times, amazing.

In the film Halloween Town is portrayed as a dark place where no one would want to venture. But in 3-D, the visuals make it worth the trip.

Contact ALL editor Andrew Gaug at [email protected].

Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara and Paul Reubens

Distributed by Disney Pictures

Stater rating (out of five): ???

3-D rating: ??? 1/2