The dark at heart everywhere can rejoice: Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has been re-released. Yes, it is back on the big screen, digitally remastered, and now (drum roll please) it’s in 3-D! All of that quirky Tim Burton goodness that we’ve all grown to love just pops right out at you and you can almost touch it!

Did I lay it on a little thick?

Friday, October 20, marked the opening night of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D,” just in time for the 2006 Halloween season. It had been advertised since mid summer, possibly even earlier. “Nightmare” fans anxiously geared up for the release. Oh yes, it was going to be remarkable. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in theaters once more, and now many of us were old enough to truly appreciate it.

When “Nightmare” first opened in 1993, I was only eight years old. I saw it in the theater then and fell instantly in love with it. It has been my favorite movie ever since, and at the ripe old age of 21, I still flaunt my “Nightmare” t-shirts proudly. Therefore, when a friend of mine sent me a link this past summer informing me of “Nightmare’s” return, I could hardly contain myself.

Of course, I had my reservations. “Why mess with a good thing?” I thought. “‘Nightmare’ is just fine the way it is.” And you know what? I was right.

Friday night I paid my $11.25, acquired my popcorn and my soft drink, accepted my 3-D glasses, and fought for a place to sit in a severely overcrowded theater. “This is good,” I told myself. “Look how many excited people are here.” Three rows from the screen, I found a nice comfortable seat next to my boyfriend, and we munched on popcorn and spoke to our neighbors while we waited for the movie to start.

“Don’t mind me,” a girl to our left said. “I might sing along.”

“Oh, that’s all right!” I said. “I know every line to this movie; I don’t mind a little singing.” (It’s true. For a month straight I had the “Nightmare” VHS in my VCR and I played it on a continuous loop. Once it ended, I would rewind it and play it again.)

Finally the previews started and we got the little notice that it was time to put on our 3-D glasses. The audience, now uniformly silly looking, applauded and we were on our way.

Fast forward one hour and 16 minutes.

First of all, no one sang. The girl to my left lied. I was disappointed as I sat there, mouthing along to all the songs by myself. What kind of fans were these?!

Second, after it was all said and done, I asked myself, “Why make a stop motion movie 3-D?” Out of all the forms of animation, stop motion is the only one that is truly a three dimensional element. There are actual puppets moving through actual sets. Granted, everything on a screen is essentially 2-D, but making a stop motion movie 3-D makes about as much sense as making a live action movie 3-D. You know, just in case those real shadows didn’t create enough depth for you.

Similarly, a movie that wasn’t made especially for 3-D doesn’t translate very well. The depth of dimensions was subtle at best. Instead of every object and character being three dimensional, the depth came in layers: foreground, middle and background. For example, in the scene where Jack comes back from Christmas Town and sings the “Town Meeting” song, the depth starts with the hanging skeletons in the foreground, then the rows of citizens in the middle, and Jack on the stage in the background. To be truly 3-D, each row of citizens and Jack against the stage should have popped out individually. The 3-D effects reminded me of a stereoscope.

That isn’t to say that the 3-D effects were useless. The layered look that most of the movie obtained worked wonderfully for views through windows, doorways or gates. Also, everything that had been cell animated or computer animated utilized the three dimensions rather well. Ghosts, ghouls, shadows, fog, snowflakes and, most importantly, Jack’s dog Zero, all lifted off the screen and created the depth that 3-D is made for. In addition, close-ups of Angry Jack Skellington were very 3-D. At one point, when Jack pulls on his jaw and growls at Lock, Shock, and Barrel, the audience even applauded.

The best use of the 3-D effect, however, had to be Oogie Boogie. “Oogie Boogie’s Song” was impressive. The little black light skeletons on the turning racks looked tangible and the overlapping chains created the perfect 3-D effect. Similarly, the fight between Oogie and Jack, with the gun-firing slot machines and sword-wielding Kings, made the audience jump back as if the shots and blows were real.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D” did more than just try to make you feel like you were right there with the characters. It gave you an up close and personal view of the character puppets. Maybe it was a little too close. Never before had I noticed that the second to last finger on the Mayor’s left hand is the only one without red nail polish. (I mean it, go and check!)

So, as it turned out, adding 3-D effects did little to rejuvenated “Nightmare” for me. The mere fact that it was once again on a big screen, however, did. As “Nightmare” was my favorite movie from age 8, it lost some of its punch a long the way. Watching it again in a big movie theater, I suddenly remembered what a creepy movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” really is.

I imagined what it must be like to be Santa and open my eyes to a world full of strange creatures. I remembered that it would be fairly disturbing to see a coffin flying through the night sky and encounter a skeleton Santa Clause in my living room. Walking skeletons, girls who lose their limbs, a man who is nothing but a burlap sack full of bugs, that’s right, “Nightmare” is a scary movie. A scary movie glossed over by catchy music and a heart warming moral, but a scary movie nevertheless.

Over all, I found that I was neither disappointed nor pleased with “The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D.” The 3-D effects didn’t do much to enhance the story; it is the same movie from 1993. However, any excuse to get “Nightmare” on a big screen is a good excuse.

“They could have screened the original film complete with scratches and people could go to see it,” Doug Castillo, a friend of mine, said. “It didn’t have to be 3-D.”

Regardless, I wouldn’t say “Nightmare 3-D” is a waste of time. It’s amusing, even if it isn’t impressive. So go ahead. Buy that overpriced ticket and sit down to a classic Halloween movie. In the end, at least you go home with a nifty pair of 3-D glasses. - Holly Nikodem

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