At midnight Friday the premiere of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 3D kicked off. The Fremont Theatre was half-filled with young people, some of whom had come dressed in costumes. When the previews had finished and the screen flashed the words “put on your 3D glasses now,” the audience cheered loudly.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is the highly stylized story of the skeleton Jack Skellington and his quest to stage his own Christmas. The problem is that Jack lives in Halloweentown, a world full of vampires, witches and scary monsters. His fellow citizens do not grasp the spirit of Christmas and have a hard time making toys that don’t bite or scratch. The movie covers Jack’s failed attempt at running Christmas and then what he has to go through to save the holiday.
The movie was originally released in 1993 and nominated for an Academy Award for visual effects, but lost to “Jurassic Park.” The film did win a Golden Globe in 1994 for best original score. It struggled to find an audience when it was first released but has developed a devoted following in the following years. Starting in the late ’90s, it became a cult classic of sorts as it was embraced by the emo and goth cultures. Since then it has gained a larger and more mainstream audience.
The original is a stop-motion animated film with a very distinct style of its own. Each world shown in the film is more the stuff of dreams than reality, which is part of its charm. Because the characters are models, the film has always had a depth that is not achieved through regular filming techniques.
The 3D version is the next step in making these characters come to life. The sense of depth the original has was enhanced drastically, giving the feeling that you are actually in scenes with the characters.
One of the most appealing parts of the movie is that it was not originally created for a 3D experience. This means that it does not fall victim to the attempt to make the effects more prominent than that story. Through long stretches of the film it is easy to forget entirely that the movie is in 3D. The depth of the image fades into the background,
enhancing but not overpowering the essential story and beauty of the film. There were a few moments in which the animators reminded viewers by having an object fly out of the screen, but for the most part these pitfalls of the 3D adventure were gloriously absent.
Unlike Disney’s most recent 3D animated film, “Meet the Robinsons,” which at times felt as though the story had been written for the digital effects of 3D, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has retained its original charm and powerful story. If you are seeking a flashy 3D experience, this is not the movie to see. But if you are looking for a great movie that has a lifelike quality, then this is the one for you.
The movie also features an amazing soundtrack by Danny Elfman. Every one of the songs is catchy and adds to the movie. During the midnight showing Friday, some audience members sang along to the songs, showing their great appeal and infectious nature.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Halloween classic for this generation and a great way to get into the spirit of the holiday. It is being shown at the Fremont Theatre downtown every day, with special midnight showings on Friday and Saturday evenings.