on December 24, 2000
So, for the holidays, I decided to buy some of my favorite seasonal films, and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was on my list. I like eye-candy, and thus I like Tim Burton. But I'm not reviewing the film so much as this version of it. This is a special, widescreen edition that includes: an original trailer, a "making of", "Vincent," narrated by Vincent Price, and "Frankenweenie".
What it *doesn't* include, however, is the ending I saw in the theater. This version ends with the song near a pumpkin patch (as I clumsily try not to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't already seen it), and not the closing narration. Okay, so I'm picky. I thought I was getting the entire film, and I didn't. The closing narration wasn't long or even, to my mind, boring. Granted, it probably wasn't necessary either, but then, how was including "Frankenweenie" necessary?
It's a wonderful movie and a really cool edition considering what all you get in it. However, if you intended to get the *complete* film that you may have seen in the theaters, you may want to hunt around for a different version.
on April 25, 2004
Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king, is the Halloween planner for Halloweentown and after another successfully Halloween that was scarier that ever he drifts off in melancholy. Jack seems to have found himself in a brainy predicament as he tries to find reason in what he does and why he exists. In contemplation Jack stumbles through a deep forest until he discovers an opening in the woods where there are a number of secret doors that lead to all the different holidays. Jack decides to peek behind the door with the Christmas tree, but a strong wind pulls him in and he falls into a Christmas Town. Flabbergasted Jack learns about this new and strange holiday as he is amazed about the peculiar traditions of Christmas Town and its leader, Santa Claus. As Jack returns to Halloweentown he informs the citizens about Christmas Town and its scary leader, which leads him to want to give the people a Halloween styled Christmas, but there seems to be some dangers to this undertaking.
Nightmare Before Christmas is a wonderful story written by Tim Burton where misinterpretations and errors lead to admirable traits such as courage, forgiveness, and love. However, the story is told in a macabre environment where characteristics are most often forgotten. Despite the ghoulish atmosphere there is always a need for love and affection, and this punches through the true need for these traits. Henry Selick does a very good job as he directs this puppet feature as it offers many thoughts and ideas for an audience to ponder, which leaves them with a very good cinematic experience.
on December 31, 2003
Tim Burton is not the first person that comes to mind when you think of children's entertainment but he has a closer connection with that film genre then most would think. Tim Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts, also known as "Mickey Mouse University for its ties to Disney animation, and later worked for the Walt Disney Company on such animated films as The Fox and the House and The Black Cauldron early in his entertainment career. It wasn't until his work on short films like Vincent and Frankenweenie that his directing talent was fully recognized. Burton went on to work on such favorites as Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands but found time to write a poem entitled "The Nightmare Before Christmas" which became the inspiration for this feature. Being unable to direct the project due to his commitment to Batman Returns, Burton choose Henry Selick while both decided that stop motion was the best medium to bring Halloweentown to life. But would Burton's twisted take on the favorite "Night Before Christmas" tale be accepted by the general public or would it be too weird even for the hardcore Burton fans?
The story centers on the exploits of the pumpkin king of Halloweentown as he tries to spread his own bit of Christmas cheer. Jack Skellington lives in the area known as Halloweentown where scary monsters and ghouls live year around always preparing for next Halloween. But Jack has lost the spark of excitement he once had for the holiday and falls into deep seclusion. Upon stumbling onto a secret door that leads to Christmastown, the home of Santa and his elves, Jack finds a new calling in life. Why should Christmas be restricted to Christmastown? Why can't everybody be allowed to celebrate this joyous holiday? So with this in mind the pumpkin king decides to give old Saint Nick a vacation and helms the sleigh spreading joy to all girls and boys. But when his plan backfires, it is up to Jack to save Christmas. The story of The Nightmare Before Christmas is pretty good despite several plot holes. Why does it take Lock, Jock, and Barrel almost a month to capture Santa Clause when it only took them less then a day to capture the Easter Bunny? Why is the military brought in to stop a Santa imposter? Granted the film is not to be taken seriously but there are some things that are just too over the top.
Since the Nightmare Before Christmas is presented mostly in song (ten songs total in the one hour and sixteen minute feature), perhaps it is better to discuss about each character rather then the voices behind them. Jack Skellington is a perfect lovable yet confused character. A character that only wants to do good things but those good actions come off as being bad to others outside of Halloweentown. One can sympathize with Jack over his feelings of depression and seclusion over the lack of excitement he once had for his calling in life. More then a few people who see this can relate to this character more then once their lives. Jack's love interest, Sally, is another interesting and perplexing character. For most of her life she has dreamt of going out into the world and escape the seclusion her creator, the doctor, has kept her in. The ironic situation is that when she does go into the world, she sends herself into seclusion and isolation when she is the only one who does follow along with Jack's plans. The only character that seems to be a problem for the film is Oogie Boogie. We really don't learn that much about the character as he isn't featured that much in the film and he doesn't really do anything outside of creating slight tension for the plot.
Overall, The Nightmare Before Christmas, despite several problems, is still a decent effort. The stop motion animated special effects of Nightmare are still pretty impressive but were probably more impressive at the time it was released. The film's effects fail to hold up like traditional animated films and the feature really shows its age in a couple of scenes. Though the film is intended for children and is not to be taken too seriously, there are several moments where the creators are asking too much believability from the audience especially a scene where the military gets involved in shooting down the Santa imposter. With the idea that this is a children's film in mind, why are there so many moments in the film that would probably scare the living Hell out of a four or five year old? The feature tries to be children friendly but as soon as it attempts to it slips right back into the dark and scary moments again. Either this film is intended for children or for adults; it would be a lot more consistent if the filmmakers made up their minds. Outside of those problems, the amazing songs by Danny Elfman (including Jack's Lament) and several beautiful sets make the film worth at least one viewing. Nightmare Before Christmas is a decent experiment that, despite showing some age, can still delight certain audiences.
on December 11, 2002
Three words, "BEST MOVIE EVER." If you havent seen this movie before, please do! It is personally my favorite movie, along with Burton's cinematic classic, "Edward Scissorhands." Okay, so you think it may be too scary for little kids. Well, let me give you a few reasons why it is NOT too scary:
1.) There is no gore, blood, foul language, or intense violence
2.) Everything is based on untrue events
3.) The plot is kind and sweet. It has a good moral to the end, which is, "Never change who you are inside."
Now that you can see why my absolute favorite movie is not too scary for kids, let me point out some reasons why "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is my favorite movie (since I was 4 years old):
1.) The characters are not bad or mean (exceptions to Oogie Boogie)
2.) The storyline is fun and colorful
3.) The songs and script are ones that make you smile and feel good
4.) It's simply a great movie you watch when wanting to sit back, and watch a WONDERFUL~ film. Please take my word for it- "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a delightful movie about friendship, solving problems, trusting, and learning that being yourself is be
on September 19, 2001
Before I even pontificate about the stop-motion marvel, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, I'd like to talk briefly about some of the extras gracing this Special Edition. For those of you familiar with the loaded $ LaserDisc box set, these are the identical features minus the hardcover book at a fraction of the price. Yes, it has cut scenes, trailers, a making of documentary, and an interesting running commentary by the films director, etc... but, what catapults this DVD into super value is that it contains the first 2 Tim Burton shorts, VINCENT and FRANKENWEENIE in their entirety. Burton's first, VINCENT only runs about 6 minutes and is a very funny stop-motion story about a young boy (probably Burton himself) obsessed with Vincent Price. Price even provides the narration. FRANKENWEENIE is a half hour long live-action vehicle done entirely in black and white. It combines the tone and concepts of the early monster movies with a LEAVE IT TO BEAVER suburban neighborhood. Often quite funny, it all resolves on a very "positive" note. Daniel Stern and Shelly Duvall portray teh young parents. Now, on to our feature presentation. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is the greatest full-length stop motion movie to date. Cleverly taking the cult qualities of half-hour Christmas Specials like RUDOLPH and combining them with the monster movies of yore and a large helping of Dr Seuss, the result is a mind-boggling visual feast worth many, many visits. From the opening frames (Burton has consistently restored my faith in great opening titles) to the final pay-off, the visuals under the direction of Henry Selick (JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH) are total candy corn for the eyes. Additionally, Burton's favorite composer Danny Elfman writes a nuanced musical score and several economic songs to help scoot the story around. Add, a great voice cast including the wonderful Catherine O'Hara and Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens and you're in for a great experience. Only in the last half hour does the film fall from its tremendous pedestal as our hero Jack Skellington is first attacked by the earthly military and then attacked in a blacklight funhouse by a 'forced' villain. These scenes just can't hold the charm of the rest of the film. And as they are the actual story resolution, they bring a five star film down to four stars. All in all, the film might be a bit frightening to the Teletubbies set. And some parental judgement might be in order, potentially offensive material always exists when you deal with 'afterlife', 'witchcraft' and even 'Santa'. Who'd ever guess that the Disney organization would produce a comic film that involves the dead and the kidnapping of Santa Claus. "A pox, how delightful... a pox."
on August 28, 2001
I enjoyed this movie so much it was the first one I purchased when I decided to get a DVD player! (In fact, I ordered it before I even got the player!) This movie is thoroughly original! Not only is it fun, but it also has a subtle message about the mistakes we make when we decide that "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence" and how it is best just to be yourself. I do agree with one reviewer who mentioned that some of the monsters might be a wee bit scary to very small children, but if you keep watching you will find that they are all very good natured and just out for a bit of fun. The songs in this one are great. I don't really care for musicals most of the time, but the songs were all quirky and charming.(Danny Elfman has surpassed all he has ever done in Oingo Boingo since he started writing film scores.) This is an excellent family movie that people of all ages will completely enjoy!
P.S. One of the other reviewers was right! The Special Edition version of this movie does leave out the mayor's line "Wait, we haven't given out the prizes yet!". This is still a good version if you are a big fan of the film. Plus, Burton's early work "Vincent" (included on this disc)is completely adorable!
on January 4, 2001
I would prefer to give this three and a half stars.
This is a beautiful movie and has been one of my favorites since I first saw it. Tim Burton is a genius, and knows how to bring out this dark, surrealistic beauty in all of his works. Burton's imagination of the lands where holidays come from (if you've not wondered, I'd say it's time you begun) is brilliant, with Jack as the king of Halloween. I'm glad Burton didn't choose something tacky like Jack'o'Lantern, or Mr. Unlucky, or any of those typical named beings associated with Halloween. Creating a new being only added to the movie. A few of the lines are corny, and some of the delivery seems strange, but that happens in most movies.
As for the VHS, I found all the additional stuff they put on it to be silly. Save it for the DVD; I understand that they were trying to make that information to be more accessible, but I hate fast forwarding through the movie jsut to get to the interesting info. Most other movies save it for the DVD... they could have too.
on December 29, 2000
Call me a stickler, but I like to be able to put all the pieces of the plot together when I'm watching a movie. When something just doesn't make sense with what's happening in the rest of the movie, well, it bothers me. This movie is a perfect example of a good movie that could've been great, had it not been so confusing halfway through.
Let me start with the good first. This movie has great, rich visuals. The sets are amazing, I can't even imagine going through the pain-stakingly slow process to do stop action animation. The scene in the graveyard, after the Christmas disaster, is especially well-done. The score has a slightly creepy, rich, wonderful sound. I love most of the songs, especially the one's featuring Elfman's fantastic voice. He has the passionate, tender-hearted voice, with a bit of underlying menace right there. Along with Elfman, all of the other voice characterizations are first-rate, and the whole cast is very endearing. And, I really like the fact that they didn't use modern day lingo. That drives me up the wall with current Disney cartoons.
Now, the problem is, Jack's Christmas was way too scary. Throughout the Town Meeting Song, the whole point was to show how the rest of Halloweentown wanted to make Christmas like Halloween, but Jack knew that Christmas was not like Halloween. The citizens are all yelling out their thoughts on what is in the box, or the sock, as Jack corrects, You don't quite understand, That's not the point of Christmasland. So why does he let them create all those scary gifts?? Don't get me wrong, I get a kick out of the kid pulling the head out of the box, but it just doesn't make sense. And what about "Sandy Claws"? That's a funny joke, but we're supposed to believe that Jack researched Christmas for hours, and didn't happen upon "Santa Claus"?
I don't see any reason why there has to be holes in any movie plot. That kept this movie from being a classic with me. I liked it, but was hoping to love it.
on March 6, 2004
Director Tim Burton delves us into the world of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, an fantastic stop-action animation fantasy, which begins in the scary world of Halloweentown, where the infamous town resident, Jack Skellington, becomes dreary of the tiring celebration of Halloween. But he then is magically transported to a wonderful land called Christmastown and is fascinated about it! He then convinces his fellow town to celebrate Christmas, and kidnap Santa Claus! But everything doesn't go according to plan.
NIGHTMARE, like any animated movie, has great songs, and also has a spooky atmosphere with scary characters from Halloweentown, including the rag-doll Sally, who is vying for Jack's affections, and Oogie-Boogie, the tormented entity.
This film is rated PG because it may scare some little kids with its adult humor, but they will eat it up anyway! This film is mostly recommended to people with an imagination!
on November 2, 2003
The Nightmare Before Christmas is original in every sense of the word. The story line--Halloween creatures taking over the holiday of Christmas--has, from what I know, never been carried out before. Jack Skellington is the lead character who attempts to take over Christmas. The irony of this story is that the lead villian turns out to also be a hero. That, again, is a display of sheer brilliance and creativity. And it is true -- almost everyone in our modern era loathes musicals. I do too. But there is something quite masterful and creative about the way it is presented in this film.
Although the movie is 10 years old, it will likely be quite timeless. There is nothing about the story that indicates the time period. The graphics are still of very high quality -- to the point that it is somewhat like "eye candy." I was mesmorized by the graphics. Yes, me--an adult.
-- Michael Gordon