The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D: ** 1/2 (out of 4)

I should start by noting that I was lucky to be able to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D here in town. The Beverly has apparently picked up a bunch of digital projectors recently, and now shows 3D movies where appropriate. Seeing it locally was much better than the original "drive to Peoria" plan, and even if the theatre is by no means a bastion of gloriousness... it'll do.

I have of course seen Nightmare before, many times in fact. I'm a huge fan of parts of the movie - the animation is gorgeous, the art direction is fantastic, the overall story and concept are interesting in a Gaiman-esque mythology kind of way, and I love the song "This Is Halloween". But other parts of the movie have always left me cold - the rest of the music, the story's execution, the wishy-washy Halloween feeling. I think I actually like playing the Nightmare stage in "Kingdom Hearts" more than I like the movie itself.

So, why was I willing to go pay to see it again? Partially it was because of my wife - she likes the music - but mostly it was because of the 3-D. This was the first 3-D movie I'd seen in a regular theatre (IMAX doesn't count), and I really wanted to see what it would add. And, well, I'm not sure I came out with a good answer to that question.

Technical impressions: the Christie projector was certainly good enough. The glasses were a $2 up-charge, and I'm impressed by their physical quality. But the screen - well, we sat fairly far back, and the 3-D wasn't well-served by that. Perhaps if we'd been closer, it would have been more inversive; as it was, it wasn't anything special on its own. (I find this annoying, because I work with this stuff on a regular basis).

I should also note the trailers - and oh Gods, there was horror here! Brendan Frasier is going to star in Disney's first live- action 3D movie - and they spit on the audience (3D spit, that is) in the trailer! Gaah! And even the CGI-movie just looked...dull. I think that there's a while to go before anybody knows how to do 3D properly, and the gimmick-time is going to make me cry.

But as for the movie itself - the 3-D was generally pretty subtle. Some scenes didn't benefit from it at all; others, including the moon with the unrolling mountain scene, looked really good, with the style of art really helped by having foregrounds and backgrounds distinct. I couldn't tell how often they added new elements to the movie to take advantage of the 3-D, but certainly they added foreground elements on occasion. But, mostly, the only thing that stood out was the moon and mountain.

All of that said, I am happy I saw it - it's still pretty (and more so with the 3-D, at least in some parts), the art direction still rules (and wasn't screwed up), and the rest of it hasn't been affected. So if you liked it before, it's worth seeing again; if not, well, rent it first.

** 1/2

I still really want to go see the holiday version of the Haunted Mansion at the Disney parks at some point - that's a more immersive kind of 3-D, and probably suits the material better. But I won't go with my wife to go see this movie in 3-D again, at least not this year.