HTF UMD REVIEW: The Nightmare Before Christmas (Highly Recommended!)

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

    Mar 30, 2003
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    [c]The Nightmare Before Christmas (UMD)
    Region 1 • PG • Dolby Digital • Available October 25th


    It is truly a great thing when a studio releases a fantastic UMD that utilizes the PSP so beautifully. This is, without a doubt, the best Buena Vista UMD released so far, and in the running for UMD of the year.

    Thoughts on the Movie

    Man, what a fantastic movie. I remember seeing it in the theaters and was just amazed...enough to ask my mom to make me a costume from the movie. She did just that, and it was the Mayor of Halloween character, complete with a face that I could rotate around my head (from happy to angry), just like in the film. It was incredibly awesome.

    So I went to my elementary “Kookie Carnival” Halloween bash on the eve of the 30th, knowing the prize for best costume would be mine. Everybody commented on my awesome costume, and I knew I was a shoe in for first place.

    But I got second place. The first place winner went to someone who was bride of Frankenstein, which was just another way of saying she spiked her hair up and wore silver makeup with tattered clothes. I was crushed, and there would be no post chocolate eating celebration spree later that night, let me tell you.

    However, that year also started the famous Twelve Year Cake Walk Spree that has lasted to this day. You see, no matter which carnival for whatever holiday I would go to, I would always...ALWAYS...walk out with a cake I won from the cake walk. Not because I would spend dozens of tickets trying to win it, but because I would literally use maybe five tickets before winning. It got to the point where I would pick the cake I wanted before entering the game, and everyone knew that I was going home with that delicious pastry. Amazing, no?

    Anyways, back to the movie. It’s about several towns that focus on specific holidays, and we’re treated to two: Halloween Town and Christmas Town. Jack Skellington is tired of the same holiday over and over, even though he is in fact the “Pumpkin King.” Soon he walks driftlessly to a part of the forest he’s never seen, and is sucked into a secret door that leads to Christmas Town. Jack is amazed at what he sees, and soon he tries to convince Halloween town to mix Christmas and Halloween together, and it takes off from there.

    The music, the claymation, everything about this movie is just a joy to watch. The perfect marriage of Christmas spirit and Halloween spookiness is just perfect. The cast and vocals are perfect. Tim Burton and Danny Elfman did quite an amazing collaboration that can arguably be the best work they’ve ever done, even to this day. It’s a shame that Tim Burton’s other claymations have not been quite up to par as this movie (James and the Giant Peach anyone?), but I’m just happy this film turned out to be so great.

    Video Quality

    This movie is in a unique ratio of 1.66, which means you will get some extremely tiny bars on the left and right of the screen...small enough that you probably wouldn’t notice them unless you’re looking.

    Now, I have seen over forty UMD movies. There are many that I can list that have great sound, many that have great extras, but very few that I can say have a perfect video transfer. In fact, it seems companies have the hardest time transferring their movies to UMD when it comes to picture quality, as you can have grayish blacks that makes the film muddy (such as National Treasure) or poor coloring that doesn’t allow the movie to really leap out of the PSP screen (such as Robots).

    But folks, the Nightmare Before Christmas has the most beautiful transfer I have seen so far on UMD. The black levels are solid and deep, which is crucial for a movie that takes place at night half the time. The film is so detailed and sharp, I could pause the screen and just take in all the small touches of the set detail and design. And the colors...oh man, the COLORS! Just wait until you see Oogie Boogie’s neon lair, which has some of the most vivid colors I’ve seen on the PSP. And Christmas town...oh man, it looks so vivid and awesome!

    It was a tragedy that TNBC never got an anamorphic transfer on DVD, but this is one of the rare occasions that the UMD surpasses the DVD in terms of picture quality. I am completely floored, folks. Amazing.


    Audio Quality

    Thankfully the audio is up to par as well, and the music sounds fantastic with some great audio separation and nice bass. The vocals sound crisp, and the few action scenes the movie has come in loud and precise. I could have used a touch more volume since the bonus features are louder than the actual film, but other than that the movie’s audio is great.



    The film is only a little over an hour long, but Buena Vista took this opportunity to add over an hour in bonus features. Woo!

    First up, there are forced trailers which always suck...but just press the square button when you see the Touchstone logo and you’ll skip immediately to the menu. The menu is terrific, and Buena Vista really has gotten a hand on making some fantastic designs for UMD menus. Think the new menus of SSX On Tour, add color but tone down the animations, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what they’re like.

    First up in the extras is The Making of the Nightmare Before Christmas (24:42) which is a great in-depth look on the making of the movie and the team behind it. Very detailed and makes up for the lack of a commentary track for the movie (which Buena Vista has been slow to add on their UMDs, but will eventually I hope). Next are four Deleted Animated Sequences (5:13) and three Deleted Storyboards (2:56) with some quick voiceover intros by Tim Burton (I’m assuming since he is never introduced). Finally, you get the entire Tim Burton film called “Frankenweenie” (30:02) which is in black and white. It’s a live action film about a young boy who loses his dog and tries to bring it back to life. It’s a pretty amusing film that will interest most Tim Burton fans out there who haven’t seen it yet, like me.

    While I am a bit miffed that Buena Vista hasn’t added commentaries to UMDs yet, I am not bothered at all in this instance since we get some great extras that really enhance the UMD. Fantastic extras overall.



    The video, audio and extras of this UMD are so good, Sony should include it with every PSP that’s shipped from now on; I guarantee it would sell PSP gamers to UMD movies. Definitely one of the best UMDs of the year.

  2. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

    Jun 20, 2003
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    Nice review, David. I'll add this to my wishlist.

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