guppy's film reviews

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Corpse Bride

Year: 2005
Director: Tim Burton
Notable Actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Albert Finney
Score: B+
Summary: A technically impressive, entertaining ride, but a little light on substance.


Corpse Bride is Tim Burton's most recent film. It is made completely in stop-time animation; the actors provide voicework only. The end result is a technically jawdropping movie that's a lot of fun, but is a little on the lightweight side. The trailers were virtually inescapable, even for me, and I almost never watch TV, so it's likely that most readers are already aware of the general story. For those who aren't, it's about the love life of Victor Van Dort and his arranged marriage. The Van Dort family is new money; they have their newfound fortune, but no status. The Everglot family, on the other hand, is in exactly the opposite position: longtime high rollers who have fallen on hard times. So their parents arrange for their children, Victor and Victoria, to wed. But Victor gets cold feet when it's time to follow through, and runs off -- and through a bizarre coincidence, ends up accidentally putting the wedding ring on the finger of the corpse of a dead girl, who reanimates and holds him to his "proposal." Vincent is, of course, left in the middle of a rather bizarre love triangle.

The animation is leaps and bounds ahead of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton's other stop-time feature (to be fair, that one was really directed by Henry Selick; Burton wrote the script, though, and I believe he had some substantial creative input). The animation is about as smooth as you could ever hope stop-time would be, and the visual style is wonderful to watch. It's pretty much what you'd expect from Burton: a dark palette and lots of sharply angular features. The story, similarly, is classic macabre Burton.

The music is courtesy of longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman, and it's his usual style. I happen to like Elfman's work, so this is good for me.

Since the film is stop-motion, the actors are voice-work only. There's nothing to complain about here; everyone turned in solid performances, though none particularly stand out. The characters themselves are something of a mixed bag. I don't feel strongly about most of the main characters, really; they're not bad, but they're upstaged by the large cast of colorful minor characters in the Land of the Dead. The exception is Emily, the Corpse Bride, who is a pretty neat character to watch.

My only real complaint with Corpse Bride, as I said, is the substance. It's a very short film, clocking in at 76 minutes, and even that seems a little long given that the story is pretty simplistic. I was never bored, but it did seem like a couple of scenes repeated themselves, mostly of Emily worrying about what to do about the situation.

I recommend Corpse Bride to most viewers, especially fans of Burton or other morbid films, like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Be forewarned, though, that it's a short, fun romp rather than a complex story.


  • pretty much what I said!
    again you have got a good style - mixing general knowledge and personal opinion in an easy to read fashion.

    By Anonymous BranTheBuilder, at 10:12 AM  

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