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2005 stop-motion-animation film directed by Tim Burton and voiced by Johnny Depp

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Until Death, or Maybe Even After

  • May 7, 2009
Rating:
+3
Pros: Doesn't play dead

Cons: Too many plot holes

The Bottom Line: Corpsey!

Corpse Bride would have been an anime movie had it been created in Japan. Not just for the obvious reason, but because the Japanese have a genuine respect for the animated medium while Americans tend to see animation as a decent way to keep the young'uns quiet for 90 minutes. The Japanese use animation to the fullest imaginative extent they possibly can. Yes, kid movies do crop up from it, but so do ultraviolent bloodbaths (Ninja Exile), sexual thrillers (Perfect Blue), meditations about the good and bad of science (Steamboy), and wonderfully imaginative tales of inspiration (many I've seen, but my favorite would be Spirited Away). Corpse Bride looks to be a common Disney movie about a temptress, a sweet girl, and the man between. But it takes twists and turns which would be right at home in a good Japanese flick.

Corpse Bride isn't perfect. It doesn't cover every base it blunders over. The wrap-up was a bit too neat and tidy and the living bride's greedy parents are ultimately nothing more than set pieces. I can't help but wonder if the movie was cut back at all. It seems likely because it barely makes feature length at 77 minutes. Fortunately, those 77 minutes are crammed full of clever jokes, endearing characters, and fluid, careful stop-motion animation. 

The plot is simple. Victor is going to his wedding rehearsal to meet his bride, Victoria, for the first time. They are to be married tomorrow. In one of many loose ends, Victor doesn't want to get married until he sees Victoria for the first time. This loose end is quickly resolved when he just decides after seeing her that he wants to marry her. But this sub-plot is beside the point. (It is a loose end, after all.) The crux of Corpse Bride's plot literally arises when Victor is kicked out of rehearsal for not knowing the vows. He goes off into the woods to try to memorize them, and uses a small set of twigs as a prop which bare a striking similarity to an actual hand. He puts his ring on one of the twigs, says the vows like HE MEANS THEM, and out pops our dead bride, who takes him to the land of the dead.

Corpse Bride is the work of Tim Burton, the Stephen King of movies (and I mean that in a good way). Burton is a master of the odd and macabre, and Corpse Bride will ensure that he won't be filming in white light anytime soon. But there is a surprising warmth in Corpse Bride. The characters who populate the land of the dead appear to be a bit freaky at first, but Victor soon realizes they don't want to do anything to hurt him and so he comes to love them. So does Burton's audience. It's very hard to not love a skull who sings the tragic backstory of the widower's better half-to-be. The land of the dead bears a resemblance to a more hellish stereotype, but no one designates good or evil labels to the residents. In fact, you can argue they're all good guys.

The real bad guy reveals himself a bit later in the movie. He's bad enough, but his late development gives him a backseat to Victoria's parents. They're the bad guys in the entire movie. Their concern isn't for their daughter's safety or happiness as it is for her dowry. This raises a whole host of questions about the background of the marriage arrangement, mainly the question "How do they not know that Victor is poor if they arranged the marriage with a dowry payday in mind?" But they are effective and menacing and even a bit likable. When Victoria asks about her own happiness, the mother replies that people don't marry for happiness. They've been married a long time and never had a single moment of happiness. The wife tells the husband to smile, and the husband struggles to remember the muscle sequence used to smile. Despite his effort, the best he can manage is a sneer.

The writing isn't great. It's almost as if the writers were more concerned about good jokes than good dialogue, but that's okay. Corpse Bride is a dark children's movie and it's supposed to make us laugh. The jokes are some of the most inspired I've seen in awhile. The bulk of them are visual. One guys makes room for a character by literally splicing himself in half. The great delight of Corpse Bride, however, is listening to one of the various characters break into a song and dance routine. Yes, you have to remember this is a children's movie and it is also a Tim Burton production. The two of them combine to form some of the most delightfully eerie musical sequences this side of.... Well, the only thing they really compare to is The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is also a children's movie from Tim Burton. 

It is also to the writing's credit that the story takes a few twists and turns which I didn't see coming. The bad guy's comeuppance is unique and clever. It also helps that Victor, Victoria, and the corpse bride all turn out to be understanding and caring people who don't want to hurt each other. Corpse Bride is a fun little animation job which may not come off as complete as most movie buffs would like, but it still tickles the funny bone of just about anyone, whether in the land of the living or in the land of the dead.

Recommended:
Yes

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February 19, 2011
great review!!
 
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More Corpse Bride reviews
review by . May 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I was so excited when i saw the ads for this movie, not only is it a brainchild of the one and only Tim Burton but it is done in stop motion animation! The Nightmare before Christmas is my all time favorites. I was suprised however that Disney did not pick up this project givin the amount of money they have made on Burtons other ventures. This is the story of victor who is in an arranged marriage with victoria when he accidently finds himself married to the dearly departed emily. After victor and …
review by . February 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
When love is enough to set someone free...
Getting married is always a joyous occasion, regardless of who one is getting married to, it seems! Well, at least when it comes to this quirky animation (rather than calling it a horror one!), love and marriage seem to be the theme. Death too.       At times, I wonder if kids will understand such adult themes. Then again, if they can understand Harry Potter, then all is well ;-) Animation has certainly come a long way since Cinderella and Snow White! This one is nothing …
Quick Tip by . February 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This is certainly a quirky kind of animation but I do like it. Just watched it on TV after midnight, kinda right for the time of the night! Love the scene where they were playing the piano and I do like songs. Love transcends death, or does it?!
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
not quite the love story that the nightmare before christmas had, but still amusing and well written. i love stop motion films.
review by . December 19, 2008
It's odd that Tim Burton's Corpse Bride should be released the same year as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Perhaps it was just an unfortunate coincidence that the two films, both of which are stop-motion animation and feature the vocal performance of Helena Bonham Carter, came out in 2006. Both films are great and are award-worthy (W&G won the "Best Animated Feature" award).      Johnny Depp voices the prim and proper Victor who is to be married …
review by . November 08, 2008
Corpse Bride
Victor van Dort, son of wealthy but title-less fishmongers, is to marry Victoria Everglot, daughter of a titled but impoverished family. Victor stumbles through his wedding lines during rehearsal, and wanders off into the woods to practice. Unfortunately, Victor finally gets the lines right and awakens the corpse bride, a girl who died on her wedding day and has been waiting for her husband to return. The corpse bride, Emily, rises from the earth in front of Victor and accepts his vows.     Emil …
review by . November 22, 2008
If The Nightmare Before Christmas had your gruesome juices flowing   Or stop-motion animation stops your heart   Head off to Amazon my dears (Your favorite on-line merchant)   And drop the lovely Corpse Bride in your cart     Johnny Depp, Christopher Lee and Helena Bonham-Carter   Team up for this short movie `bout a bride   Betrayed by her betrothed on the eve of their betrothal   She dies, but never puts her hopes …
review by . December 03, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Time Burton's "Corpse Bride" is a nice film, but just doesn't come quite together for the audience. I brought my daughter of four years to check this flick out. I didn't mind doing this since I've enjoyed almost all of Burton's films. The story, though somewhat garish, is a simple case of mistaken intentions. Johnny Depp's character, Victor, is so nervous to get married to a young woman named Victoria (Emily Watson) that he fumbles his lines during the rehearsal. Embarrassed after a clumsy series …
review by . November 08, 2005
Pros: Fabulous visuals, animation, caricatures. Mercifully, it was only 76 minutes long.     Cons: Absence of a plot. Absence of character development. Predictable ending.     The Bottom Line: Very uneven movie. I was impressed with the visuals and animation in the beginning, but completely unimpressed with the plot and character development that ensued.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Last …
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie

Wiki


Corpse Bride
(often known as Tim Burton's Corpse Bride) is a 2005 musical stop-motion-animation fantasy film directed by Mike Johnson and Tim Burton. It is set in a fictional Victorian era village in Britain. Johnny Depp led an all-star cast as the voice of Victor, while Helena Bonham Carter (for whom the project was specially created) voiced Emily, the title character.
The film was nominated in the 78th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, but was bested by Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. On a technical level it was shot with a battery of Canon EOS-1D Mark II digital SLRs, rather than the 35mm film cameras used for Burton's previous stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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Details

Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 23 September 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: John August, Tim Burton
DVD Release Date: January 31, 2006
Runtime: 76 Minutes
Studio: Warner Bros Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co.
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