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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/3D Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Disney - 1993
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 76 Minutes
Genre: Family - Animated

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.66:1/1.78:1 (3D)
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Katherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens
Directed by:Henry Selick
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Tim Burton
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date:August 30, 2011

"Hautingly imaginative and fun"

Film Synopsis:

Bored with his perennial role as Halloween Town's frightening Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington wanders off and discovers the cheerful village of Christmas Town. Determined to shake things up in Halloween Town, he enlists the help of some mischievous trick-or-treaters to kidnap Santa Claus and takes over the job of delivering gifts to the children of the world himself. When his plan goes awry, Jack attempts to restore Santa to his rightful place. But first, he must rescue St. Nick from the clutches of the evil Oogie Boogie!

My Take:

The Nightmare before Christmas underwent a digital restoration prior to its 2008 Blu-ray Disc release and the results were superb. Disney has seen fit to release it in 3D and give fans another option for viewing Tim Burton’s ingenious and inspired fable that cleverly blends Halloween and Christmas for an eerily unexpected holiday celebration. I reviewed its initial release on Blu-ray. Other than the addition of the 3D Blu-ray version it offers the same standard Blu-ray audio/video and bonus supplements. Here are my original comments which are still applicable:

When The nightmare before Christmas was originally released in theaters my daughter was a baby and my son wasn’t born yet. It seemed like a kids movie and I really had no interest/reason in seeing it at the time. It is told using stop motion animation that took three years and required 100 artists to complete. It really looks quite good. If you have ever seen how stop motion animation is done you can appreciate the amount of work that goes into it. It spins a rather bizarre yet interesting tale about Halloween and Christmas that could only have come from the imagination of Tim Burton. I found its musical aspects entertaining and thought that the story was conceptually original. I was surprised to see that Danny Elfman voiced Jack Skellington during the singing segments of his dialogue. Elfman is so talented and I love his music. While I found the film entertaining I am not so sure what younger viewers might feel about it. There are some elements and characters that could be disturbing to them. Especially when holidays like Halloween and Christmas are the subject. I think that kids that are a little older won’t have any trouble seeing the worth in these characters and the satire in the story.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some scary images. There is nothing contained here that would be unsuitable for most viewers age 6 or 7 and above.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 92

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

3D Presentation: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Depth (Onscreen):

  • Dimension (Beyond the screen):

  • Realism:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Color reproduction:

The nightmare before Christmas 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD sound that has an average bitrate of 4.9 Mbps.

This is a rewarding 3D presentation that features few examples of overtly gimmicky effects but emphasizes excellent depth and dimension. Detail is well preserved as the image retains its high level of clarity as objects within the frame are delineated and sharp. Depth is appreciable as evidenced by the notable separation of objects and characters layered in the foreground/background which serves to visually draw you in by creating a more discerning sense of virtual space occupied by things of various sizes and shapes. Fidelity appears intact as the film’s gorgeous colors, rich contrast and stable blacks are beautifully rendered and natural. Comparing this to the 2D version in terms of the rendering of detail, color reproduction and contrast I found them to be very similar. I didn’t notice any distracting signs of ghosting/crosstalk or 3D related anomalies. I thought it looked terrific.

This is the same 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack found on the original Blu-ray release. Here are the comments from my 2008 review:

The 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD audio was in a word, awesome. Clearly the star of the show is Danny Elfman’s stunning music score. Lossless audio’s higher resolution brought out the superbly crafted and sometimes delicate nature of the soundtrack. Subtle nuance in both the sound effects and music was readily apparent. Excellent dynamic range and crystal clarity enabled the texture of the instrumentation to shine through. This is an aggressive surround mix that never lets up. Sounds and instruments are carefully placed within the sound field at just the right audible level so that they arrive at the listening position with accurate timing and precision based upon the onscreen cues. As a result panning effects felt well integrated with a seamless quality that made them more realistic. There was an incredibly enriching and solid feel to the bass that is hard to describe. This was not the deepest bass that I have experienced but it had a palpable presence that felt powerful, jarring and potently room filling when engaged. The voices of the characters were reproduced with good tonal delineation and crystal clarity even during busy sequences. This was truly one of the most enjoyable audio demonstrations I have had in my theater room.

2D Video Quality:

Video: 94

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

The nightmare before Christmas comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps.

Looking at this presentation today the comments from my original review are applicable however I feel that my technical rating should have been one point higher for Resolution and Color Production. Those changes are reflected above. Here are my original thoughts:

From a technical perspective this is a terrific audio/video presentation. The video offers a relatively high bitrate encoding that boasts deep, dynamic and noise free blacks that provide a surreal dimension to the world of Halloween Town. The oranges, reds, yellow and blues looked amazing against the deep black backgrounds. Images had plenty of pop thanks to excellent contrast and well saturated colors. The sequences in Christmas town were awash with vivid colors that leapt off of the screen. The various gray and sepia tones used in Halloween Town were wonderfully divergent with good visible gradations. Detail was rendered with aplomb as images were crisp, sharp and three dimensionally accentuated. Resolution was good enough that I was able to clearly make out small particles of dirt on the mirror as Jack tries on his Santa (or Sandy Claws) suit in chapter 11. Grain was present and appeared to be well preserved. I saw no signs of excessive artificial sharpening or extraneous video noise.

Bonus Features:

There is a plethora of bonus content that delves deep into the world of Tim Burton as well as The nightmare before Christmas. These are on the Collector’s Edition SD DVD release as well. Only two are offered in high definition which is a bummer. Disney has included a Digital Copy bonus Disc which allows an SD version of the film to be downloaded to a portable playback device from a PC or MAC.

  • Disc 1:

  • The nightmare before Christmas 3D Blu-ray

  • Disc 2:

  • The nightmare before Christmas 2D Blu-ray including the following bonus features:

  • Blu-ray Disc Exclusive: A special Blu-ray Disc introduction by Tim Burton

  • (HD) Jack’s Haunted Mansion Halloween Tour - offered in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround

  • (HD) Tim Burton‘s original The Nightmare before Christmas poem narrated by Christopher Lee

  • All new audio commentary featuring Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, & Director Henry Selick

  • Frankenweenie: 1984 short film with new introduction by Tim Burton

  • Vincent: Tim Burton short film

  • Deleted storyboards and animated sequences

  • The making of The nightmare before Christmas: original featurette

  • The world of The nightmare before Christmas: Hallow Town, Christmas Town, The real world

  • Original Theatrical and Teaser trailers and posters

  • Disc 3:

  • DVD/Digital Copy of The nightmare before Christmas

Final Thoughts:

With the advent of 3D Blu-ray, Disney, in the tradition of their forward thinking approach has opted to begin releasing some of their catalog titles in the new format. Fans of this film who enjoy the visually involving experience that 3D can be will want to replace their original Blu-ray copy with this one as it makes for a wonderfully engaging and faithful video presentation. Other than that it is the same release and contains the same bonus content and audio/video quality as the initial Blu-ray release. As I said in my original review, The nightmare before Christmas may not be for everyone but it is a conceptually original creative work that is recommended viewing. I can guarantee that you won‘t be disappointed with the rewarding audio/video experience that accompanies it. Enjoy.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

JVC PK-AG1 3D Glasses

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen

Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

449 Posts
Thanks for reviewing this. Quick question: I have the 2D blu-ray, and it offers a Portuguese soundtrack (even if it's only 2.0), but I don't see any Portuguese listed here. Did they nix it for the 3D release?

810 Posts
Thanks Ralph...

Based on your review... it doesn't appear there has been any major improvements in quality to the 2D version of the film? Would it be fair to say there is no reason to "upgrade?"

1,677 Posts

Originally Posted by Litlgi74 /forum/post/20852357

Thanks Ralph...

Based on your review... it doesn't appear there has been any major improvements in quality to the 2D version of the film? Would it be fair to say there is no reason to "upgrade?"

Unless of course you are 3D ready, then it sounds like a necessary upgrade!

267 Posts

Originally Posted by William /forum/post/20852098

Being stop motion does this make the 2D to 3D conversion process easer/higher quality than a regular motion film?

I do not think this one is a typical "cookie cutter" conversion that you might get nowadays. I know that ILM was in charge of the 3D remaster for the theatrical release. They developed a process where they virtually projected the movie in CG space on blank models and filled in the gaps in the right eyeview.

As for the 3d blu-ray, although I love the movie, double-dipping is not very appealing.

429 Posts
Thanks again, Ralph! Late in the game seeing this review till now! I'll be getting this in a couple of weeks and will post an impression of the 3D experience -- would've like to catch it as it was playing in IMAX 3D. I for one didn't even own this in any format, but remember it fondly and am looking forward to enjoying it in 3D with the family this holiday season.
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