Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993) Review

So you could probably argue that this is a Christmas film but, let's face it, you'll remember more Halloween imagery which means that I count this as a Halloween film (the name of the first song is 'This is Halloween'). Despite being directed by Henry Selick, I guess Tim Burton had creative control so that means that we have to take a look at Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas...I'm not calling it's like saying J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter and the Something Something...ok.

In a world composed of Halloween elements creatively called Halloweentown, the town is finished celebrating the holiday of Halloween (I'm probably going to say that word a lot) and the king of Halloween, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), grows tired of the same thing year after year and goes off to search for something new. He returns having learnt about the holiday of Christmas and wishes to take over the holiday and do it himself. Rag doll creation Sally (Cathrine O'Hara) foresees a disaster at Christmas and tries to warn Jack but he doesn't heed her warning.

I have very fond memories of this film and enjoyed it a lot...however having watched it recently, I can actually see some of the flaws it has. The biggest flaw is that it is far too short. Now it's kind of hard to create a very long stop frame film and I praised The Cat Returns despite its length however while The Cat Returns was well paced, this is not. There are a lot of things not explained and it feels like there are scenes missing (and the deleted scenes on the DVD didn't help). It just goes a bit too quickly (heck, the villain Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) only appears in three scenes!).

Other than that, there aren't that many huge flaws. The songs are VERY memorable and catchy with my favourites being Jack's Lament, The Oogie-Boogie Song and Poor Jack which come from the mind of Danny Elfman and are accompanied by great vocals (Danny Elfman and Ken Page do excellent jobs). The songs in this musical do their job of conveying how the character is feeling and/or moving the story along. The character designs are just wonderful, Jack especially has a fascinating design that only gets better by using some very impressive stop frame effects.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the greats in stop-frame animation and, while the pacing needs work which does take it down a few notches, it can still be considered a classic that I put on every Halloween...or Christmas...or both. The music is brilliant, the look is perfect for stop frame, the sets are well crafted and the characters are memorable, well designed and well voiced. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favour and stick it on this Halloween.

The pacing is a big issue because it feels like scenes are missing or things just aren't explained, however the stop frame is very impressive, the music is brilliant, the voice acting is great and the characters are memorable and likable and is a great Halloween film.

But was Chris Sarandon needed seeing as Jack sings more than he speaks?

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