Posts Tagged ‘3d conversion’

3-D Blu-ray review: The Nightmare Before Christmas

June 29, 2012

[Released on 3-D Blu-ray in South Africa by Disney/Ster-Kinekor]

Rating: ***½ (out of 5)

Bonus features rating: *****

This 1993 stop-frame animation feature (converted – in 2008, I believe – to 3-D) tells of Jack Skellington from Halloween Land, who covets the conventions of Christmas (decorations, presents, Santa, etc) and inspires his peers to hijack Christmas. The trigger for this story came to its creator, Tim Burton, whilst he was watching a department store change their window display from a Halloween to a Christmas theme. The sight of this conceptual crossover prompted Burton to write a poem – a send-up of the beloved ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ (‘Twas The Night Before Christmas). Next was the movie (see Bonus Feature # 2, below].

Although this is widely regarded to be “a Tim Burton movie” and is undeniably his brainchild, Burton was very busy with other projects at the time, so the director’s duties were handed to Henry Selick, who more recently gave us that superior stop-frame animated 3-D movie, Coraline. The project couldn’t have been put in safer hands.

Nightmare is a musical; a bizarre crossover between Sondheim and Gilbert & Sullivan, with songs by Danny Elfman, who’s perhaps best known for the theme of the TV show The Simpsons, though he’s also provided magical scores for numerous A-list Hollywood movies. He has almost exclusively scored Burton’s movies, and I would venture that these films would’ve been diminished without Elfman’s whimsical, eccentric input. And here’s a bit of trivia: the head you see inside the street band’s double bass is modelled upon Elfman – oh, and Elfman also provided Jack Skellington’s singing voice, as Chris Sarandon, who voiced the lead character, wasn’t confident with the singing.

The Disney company had initially released The Nightmare Before Christmas under their more adult Touchstone banner – understandable, as I wouldn’t recommend this gothic tale for the wee ones. This wicked, difficult-to-pigeonhole conceit is certainly entertaining, and it’s unique enough to warrant collecting, even though it doesn’t, in my book, make the ‘classic’ league.

Bonus features: These accompany the 2-D Blu-ray version of the film on the second disc of this set:

1) Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour
Every year from mid-October to January, DisneyLand’s Haunted Mansion ride gets Nightmare Before Christmas-themed. This extra gives you two options; the “On Track” (i.e the ride as seen from your ride buggy) and “Off Track”, which is a 37-minute documentary on the Nightmare Before Christmas-reboot of the ride; something that, as a Disney purist, I’m not wild about, incidentally. The “On Track” option allows for selectable trivia subtitles.

2) Tim Burton’s Original Poem
Read by the horror legend Christopher Lee, and accompanied by Burton’s original concept art. Well worth a visit.

3) Selectable Audio Commentary by Tim Burton, Henry Selick and Danny Elfman 

4) Selectable On-Screen Introduction by Tim Burton
This is no more than a sentence, during which Burton reassures us that this high-definition rendition of the film captures the artists’ every nuance.

5) Frankenweenie
Burton’s half-hour-long 1984 black & white short. It could be said that Burton was propelled him into the world of feature filmmaking on the reputation of this film. Daniel Stern and Shelley Duvall play the parents of a boy who decides to resurrect his beloved dead dog, Sparky. Naturally, their surname is Frankenstein… This silly yet still quite stirring little Frankenstein homage is worth the price of the disc alone.
Look out for Burton’s feature-length, stop-frame reboot of Frankenweenie – in 3-D yet – later this year.

6) Vincent
A wildly expressionistic 1982 black and white cartoon by Tim Burton, about a young lad called Vincent Malloy who has macabre fantasies about being like the horror legend Vincent Price. Naturally, it’s narrated by Vincent Price himself…

7) Deleted Storyboard Sequences

8) Deleted Animated Sequences
Some interesting material here.

9)  The Making of Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
A 25-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

10) The World of Tim Burton’s  ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
a) Concept artwork on Halloween Town, Christmas Town and The Real World (within the movie, that is!),
b) A storyboard-to-film comparison sequence,
c) Posters and trailers. 

Soundtrack options: 
English 7.1 Dolby True HD
English 5.1 Dolby Digital
English 2.0 Dolby Surround Audio Descriptive
French 5.1 DTS-HD HR
Italian 5.1 DTS
German 5.1 DTS-HD HR
Spanish 5.1 DTS


The Comeback King – in Depth

August 26, 2011

An Active3D Movie Review:
The Lion King 3-D

Rating (out of 5 stars): ****

I was hardly champing at the bit to see The Lion King again; no matter what format. I’ve seen the 35mm theatrical version, the IMAX version, the DVD version and – twice – the stage show. South African musician Lebo M, who had a minor part to play in the show’s creation, also cast a shadow of disrepute over the stage production when it opened locally… So you could comfortably say that The Lion King was both overplayed and tainted in my eyes.

Then there were my low expectations of the 3-D version. Firstly, its characters existed in 2-D animation format, which presents a largely insurmountable problem, dealt with further down. It’s a lot easier to do a stereoscopic conversion on a movie that was created in a computer graphic environment (such as, say, the Toy Story movies). The reason for this is the characters are already created in 3-D, within a 3-D environment. All that needs to be done (give or take a tweak or two) is to set up a virtual ‘second camera’ alongside the original viewpoint, in order to simulate binocular (or stereoscopic) human vision.

2-D animated characters have hard, cleanly-defined and outlined edges – like cardboard cut-outs – unlike the rounded edges of 3-D-animations. This means that, try as you might, the edges of the characters will always have that cardboard feel about them, and the best that the 3-D conversion team can do is “pull out” certain features such as noses, etc. This visual extrusion, or telescoping, of character’s faces, was a distracting – if expected – element of this revamped rerelease, though I learnt to live with it, in the final analysis… My reservations in that respect were largely overcome by the splendid work that the stereoscopic conversion team has done on the foregrounds and backgrounds, pulling us right into the action.

I remembered anew that this is not a shabby film to start with, and I’ve finally come to appreciate the sweep of its Shakespearian drama. And it’s a good-looking film that looks all the more striking in 3-D splendour. And to think that I had been looking forward to being disappointed!

Active 3-D’s Award Ceremony for 2010

January 3, 2011

Whilst donning my tuxedo, I must apologise for my absence of the last few months, sadly necessitated by the restructuring of my company. Let us, however, consider last year’s 3-D releases, blow some raspberries, and dish out out some trophies, shall we? Shhh… the lights are dimming…
[Some random dancing is followed by a respectful hush as the announcer is tracked to centre stage by a follow-spot. He isn’t famous, but that’s a budgetary issue… He begins with the evening’s announcements:]

First up, is the…

Active 3-D 2010 Award for the 3-D film that was:


Tron: Legacy – it was heartening to see original stars Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner return for the sequel, and the film contained some eye-ticklingly fanciful virtual environments – and a strong, driving soundtrack by Daft Punk. Its storyline wasn’t up to much, however, and its premise – that software should be available to all at no cost – flies brutally in the face of the film studios’ fight against piracy. Uncle Walt would’ve been horrified.

"And this pedal here accelerates box office receipts..."


That wasn’t as classy as one had expected.

Here, then, the…

Active 3-D 2010 Award for the 3-D film that was:


A tie, ladies and gentlemen:

Piranha 3-D – sadly, it wasn’t the tongue-in-cheek tribute to animal horror flicks that I had expected, but its crass attempts to please the older teen market at all costs were frequently laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Unintentionally so, of course. Richard Dreyfuss makes a funny cameo upfront which has all the movie buffs commenting that “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”, and its gasp-inducing, outrageous and counter-intuitive last few seconds were worth the price of admission alone!

Shrek Forever After was an entertaining-enough romp. I really believed that it didn’t deserve the vilification it received from so many loyal Shrek fans, despite the fact that its plot premise – of Shrek’s midlife crisis – was a bit heavy for junior audiences, and probably a bit depressing for the parents that took their kids to see the film.



With some trepidation, we approach the

Active 3-D 2010 Award for THE CURSE OF 2010

Without a shadow of doubt, this goes to Post-production 2-D to 3-D conversion, which plagued titles such as Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender. These were veritable crimes against humanity, whose stereoscopic cruelty was matched only by their godawful scripts and woeful performances.


Moving on to the …

Active 3-D 2010 Award for THE WORST 3-D MOVIE OF THE YEAR

Where do I begin? Jackass 3-D for its relentlessly juvenile celebration of bodily functions? It’s tempting, but then I’d be overlooking some other, even more depressing, screen-time wasters…

I’d love to choose the re-release (with additional yawn-inducing footage!) of Avatar, but I’ve already roundly slagged off that release (at length) in this blog.

Could it be that disappointing animated effort, Alpha and Omega? Close… but no cigar. Nope; the winner is a tie between… the envelope, please… The Last Airbender and The Clash of the Titans. Finding the biggest offender between them is akin to having to choose between Tuberculosis and Hepatitus…

Please insert brain here. (The Last Airbender)


And now… the big one; the…

Active 3-D 2010 Award for  THE BEST 3-D MOVIE OF THE YEAR

Without a doubt, Toy Story 3-D. This funny, moving and highly engaging franchise-closer was not only the best 3-D movie of the year, in this reviewer’s opinion, but it was one of the finest movies of the year, in whatever dimensional package!

To add to the thrill of it all, its release was preceded by reworked, now-3-D versions of Toy Story 1 and 2. Unlike post-production 3-D conversions of live-action 2-D movies, computer-generated animated movies are easy to convert into comfortably-viewed 3-D releases, as they are originated within a 3-D environment.

Toy Story 3-D beat out other strong contenders, such as the charming How to Train Your Dragon, the moving, very funny and stereoscopically exciting Despicable Me, and the dramatically sound Megamind 3-D.