Remember The Nightmare Before Christmas?
Sure you do! Who doesn't? It is a highly popular stop-motion
animated film featuring the distinctive vision of Tim Burton. What
you may not know is that while Tim Burton wrote and produced the film,
he didn't direct it.
This time, Tim Burton returns to the creepy
stop-motion animation front with his frequent collaborators Johnny Depp,
Helena Bonham Carter, and Albert Finney. Someone should do a movie
about that group. They must have some interesting late-night
Apparently, Halloween wasn't ghoulish enough for Tim Burton, so this
time he digs up subject matter at the grave. Spooky. Yet,
it's never scary. It's hard to imagine even a young kid finding
the images in Corpse Bride to be scary. Presumably Tim
Burton likes to deconstruct those things that made us scared as kids.
There are many similarities in look and feel to The Nightmare
Before Christmas. Personally, the Masked Reviewer far prefers
the look of Corpse Bride -- the characters are less randomly
goofy, and more charming. They are at times very evocative of the
old stop-motion Christmas specials, which will undoubtedly give many
viewers the "warm fuzzies".
The music is again by Danny Elfman, who has worked with Tim Burton
on...oh...everything he's ever done. And, perhaps the
biggest disappointment is the music. While Nightmare had a
number of catchy and memorable tunes, none of the music in Corpse
Bride is noteworthy (so to speak). It's easily recognizable as
being Danny Elfmanesque, but it isn't toe-tapping,hum-a-longable.
A good indicator of this problem is that in all of the previews, the
preview music is a derivation of music from Nightmare...they
don't play any of the songs from Corpse Bride in the ads.
A major technical problem with the film was with the audio for the
music, too. Some of the songs were very loud and distorted.
Much like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it's hard to make
out the lyrics to the songs. The songs themselves aren't that
good, so being able to understand the lyrics is particularly important.
The musical numbers are tinny and have too much treble. The best
music is found in the piano bits, but they're just for mood.
Better music would have elevated this film a lot.
Visually, the film is very impressive. Each visual element is
something to see (as opposed to being something to smell): colors,
lighting, sets, characters, costumes. The expressiveness of
characters that are nothing more than a pile of bones are particularly
The other problem with the film is that it doesn't seem as focused as
Nightmare. The characters are just kind of stumbling along,
but don't have any real depth. There is a major plot point
involving (not surprisingly) the Corpse Bride, but everyone's actions
seem to be kind of flippant. Characters seem to be willing to get
married at a moment's notice, then change their minds for no real
reason. It's hard to feel connected to any of the film's
characters, unless you're a recently departed maid-of-honor, one
It's not as funny as Nightmare. There are a few amusing
moments, but all in all it's kind of a let down.
If you loved The Nightmare Before Christmas, then Corpse
Bride is certainly worth checking out. Fondness for the first
film will probably carry you through this one, although it's not as good
in most of the significant ways. If you're all about visuals and
don't care much about music, story, or character, then Corpse Bride
will be for you. And, apparently, if you're into the Goth
lifestyle, you'll think Corpse Bride is the best thing, ever.
Expectation from the Title: The touching story of a
necrophiliac and his newly betrothed.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
That director sure makes it look like a hoot to be dead.
The Pros: Visually stunning; a few funny moments.
The Cons: Music, story, and characters could have used some
work and didn't reach the bar set by Nightmare Before Christmas.
Tim Burtin, Johnny Dep, Helen Ebonam
Carter, Albert Finey, Danny Elfmann all here.