Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

by December Lambeth on September 23, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

Corpse Bride is a stop-animation fantasy that exists past the realm of life. Tim Burton puts together a talented cast to rattle a bone and wake the dead. Shot similar to his 1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas, each frame brings to life a doldrums blue gray existence above ground and a jazzy warm and colorful underworld.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
3 Stars

Corpse Bride is a stop-animation fantasy that exists past the realm of life. Tim Burton puts together a talented cast to rattle a bone and wake the dead. Shot similar to his 1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas, each frame brings to life a doldrums blue gray existence above ground and a jazzy warm and colorful underworld.

Set in Victorian England, an arrange marriage between Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp)
a timid young man from a common fish monger family, the Van Dorts (Tracy Ullman
& Paul Whitehouse) and Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson), a shy daughter of snobbish broke aristocrats, the Everglots (Albert Finney
& Joanna Lumley), starts the heads rolling. Victor is incapable of memorizing and properly reciting his wedding vows. A screw up to the end he accomplishes dropping the ring, setting the mother-in-law on fire and marrying a corpse. That’s right, marrying a corpse. Rehearsing his lines and placing a ring on what looked like a dead root, Victor awoke to his new bride, voice by Helena Bonham Carter, and life in the underworld. Forced into an unfortunate turn of events, Victor tries to escape, but finds that to be harder to accomplish than saying his vows.

The underworld is a colorful and lovely place compared to the existence above, and Victor, after finding his other wife betrothed to another, realizes that the underworld isn’t such a bad place to be after all. Agreeing to a ritual that will bind him to the corpse bride forever, the crew goes above ground to consummate the vows and ultimately kill Victor for the finishing touches. Before his lips could touch the goblet of poison the corpse bride, seeing Victor’s true love in the background, realizes that her dreams had been stolen from her and she didn’t want this for another young beautiful bride. The corpse bride released her hold on Victor to allow true love to prevail.

Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant), Victoria’s new husband, crept out of the shadows only to be recognized as the culprit who had slain the young bride years ago and left her for dead. Karma played a role and the dead got their revenge. Victor and Victoria were wed and the corpse bride was released from the underworld, a very happy ending indeed.

The Corpse Bride in comparison to The Nightmare Before Christmas deals with the underworld or rather the supernatural and stop-animation, besides that The Nightmare Before Christmas in art, style and music surpassed The Corpse Bride. It’s hard not to compare the two, and if you add in Beetle Juice, just on a creativity level, you will be very disappointed. If you look at Corpse Bride as a stand alone, its pleasant and has some great character studies. Each characters has some unique qualities that make them exciting and new, but other qualities ties them in all too close to some of the holiday claymation stories from childhood. The music is fun and jazzy at times, but other times it sounds similar to each other and some of the lyrics are hard to understand. Now that I have mentioned hard to understand, the voice actors had a few lines that blended in and were really hard to make out at times, mostly among the parents.

Overall it’s a pleasant enough film for the family, holding back on any true adult gags and keeping the scary parts about death under the table. However, it would have been nice to see a few one-liners taken advantage of and a little more dark and dank added to the dead. The storyline maybe a little deep for children, but the animation and songs will keep them pleasantly entertained.

I would have liked to seen more contrast in color and style between the living and the dead, really punch the style up and step out of the box with the music, make it more of a jazzy style musical and less sing songy. Tim Burton has seemingly toned down his adventurous side when dealing with his dead fantasy world, I would love to see him create a film including a fantasy with the dead just for adults.

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