Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Christopher Lee
Directed By:
Tim Burton

Tim Burton will go down in history as one of the most unique directors in terms of style and artistic vision. With the likes of Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow, Burton established that he could film movies the way he wanted to, but with the animated feature, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton's true creepy artistic nature was on display. After many years, Burton returns with the stop-motion animated feature Corpse Bride.

The movie begins with the arranged marriage of Victor and Victoria. Victor comes from a family of fish mongers who have become rich through their business. On the other hand, Victoria is part of a family who has lost all their riches and must put up with this marriage for the income it is sure to bring. During the rehearsal, Victor fumbles about and leaves to practice his vows. While he walks through the forest, he successfully performs his vows, and accidentally finds himself married to a female corpse dressed in her wedding gown.

As the story unfolds, we find out that the Corpse Bride was left by her groom-to-be and died in the forest waiting for him. While Victor must deal with his new bride in the underworld, Victoria finds herself married off to a newcomer, who is obviously only in it for the riches he thinks her family has.

While the overall story isn't all that deep and most of the characters are intentionally one-dimensional, there is some charm to many of the cast. Victoria is soft and timid, but not without a bit of sweetness. Victor is likewise caring and charming. Most of the undead cast fail to have the fun uniqueness found in Nightmare. There is a laugh here or there, but a lot of the minor cast is purely ornamental and seems to lack inspiration (I think there are far too many skeletons). If anything, I would say that the living cast is far more varied and interesting stylistically.

From a visual standpoint, the Corpse Bride is excellent. Burton's style is in full force and there are some nice effects on display. I've always been a fan of stop motion and the animation here is smooth. There are a few sequences that are framed excellently and show off a nice artistic eye. The differences between the gray and drab living and the bright and exciting dead are more than apparent.

The voice acting cast is excellent. Unlike most big name ensemble voice casts where the real actors are barely serviceable when not on-screen, the Corpse Bride offers some wonderful performances. As always, Depp is wonderful as the morbidly timid Victor, while Carter and Watson do magnificent in their opposing roles. Lee is pretty funny as the non-nonsense pastor of the local church, who looks a lot like the Rankin & Bass' Winter Wizard.

The comparisons between Nightmare and Corpse Bride are inevitable. All around, Corpse Bride plays second fiddle to Skeleton Jack and pals. The songs aren't nearly as interesting or catchy and they don't seem to be executed as well. There's not so much as endearing about the locations and the story in Corpse Bride is pretty predictable.

If you love Burton's previous work, you're sure to enjoy this offering, but consider it a weak second offering that has moments where it proves to be wonderful. I have to wonder, though, how many more films can Burton and Depp do together?

- - Vane

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