Christmas comes early
My brother received Disney’s recent Blu-ray release of Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas today. This is a film that Disney initially got cold feet over releasing and so put it out under the Touchstone Pictures banner instead, only to reclaim it years later (quite probably after they realised what a money-maker it was).
Anyway, the disc has been the recipient of some extremely positive reviews. I’m sorry to report, however, that it is yet another DVNR victim. That’s not to say that it’s an awful transfer by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s extremely inconsistent. Some shots are Dark City bad, but others are as good as, say, Corpse Bride, with most shots lying somewhere in between the two. Grain-sucking has been applied, but not consistently, so some shots retain their original grain, but the majority don’t. For the most part, the grain reduction is not massively destructive, but some shots look extremely waxy, with the optical effects shots (basically everything with Zero, fire, glowing lights, etc.) looking particularly bad. Overall this could have been a lot worse, but don’t believe the people who are claiming that this film is unmolested.
Overall, it’s a definite upgrade over the DVD releases (and that includes the very good anamorphic 1.66:1 release from Scandinavia, which trounced every other version), but, as is often the case, it’s frustrating to think how much better it could have been. The massive irony is that, had this been a modern film made within the last couple of years, the technicians would probably have assumed that it didn’t need any sort of digital “restoration” applied to it and, as a result, it would therefore have ended up looking far grainier.
Oh, and, in a further instance of tampering, the Touchstone Pictures logo at the start of the film has been replaced with a Walt Disney one. I’m not happy about that. It may not sound like the end of the world, but it’s yet another example of the creeping revisionism that studios feel they can get away with inflicting on their movies. From there, it’s a slippery slope towards modifications of the George Lucas variety.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
(Buena Vista, USA, AVC, 21.7 GB)
Update, September 2nd, 2008 10:19 AM: While watching the film last night, we both spotted a number of instances of the DVNR eroding picture elements such as characters’ limbs. A comparison with the Scandinavian DVD revealed that this problem is new to the Blu-ray release (and probably also the concurrent standard definition re-release). An example can be seen at Lyris Lite. At least four instances were spotted in the course of a single play-through.