Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Christopher
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
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'
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?