Corpse Bride


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"...if you're into the goth lifestyle, you'll think Corpse Bride is the best thing, ever."










Corpse Bride
The Masked Reviewer

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 conversations.

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 cool. 

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 supposes.

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.

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