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Overall Rating
4.11

Awesome41.13%
Worth A Look: 37.1%
Just Average: 14.52%
Pretty Crappy: 6.45%
Sucks: 0.81%

12 reviews, 52 user ratings


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Corpse Bride
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by Doug Bentin

"Melancholy? Romantic? Gothic? All that and more."
4 stars

If you’re anywhere near my age, Heaven help you, you may remember with some degree of nostalgia when people used to refer to “the magic of the movies.” Well, it isn’t magic anymore because we understand technology and the way it is used in the filmmaking process. DVD bonus features are nice, but they can remove the sense of awe we used to feel when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Since I was dragged into adulthood I’ve seen only two movies that delivered that childlike awesomeness (Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast” and The Royal Ballet’s “Tales of Beatrix Potter”). There are moments in “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” that come close, but ultimately it falls just short.

Using a technologically advanced variation on stop-motion animation, Burton has adapted a Jewish folk tale about a man runs away from his own wedding rehearsal after he messes everything up through a combination of innate klutziness and pre-wedding jitters. As he runs the lines of his vows through his head, he practices slipping the ring on his intended, only to find out that what he thought was a stick poking up from the ground is a skeletal finger and he has now plighted his troth to the corpse of a young woman who was murdered by her fiancée and left dead in the forest.

Emily, the corpse bride, returns with Victor to the land of the living, which is drab, boring, and colorless. There she meets Victoria, the “breather” Victor is supposed to marry. Furious with her new husband, she carries him back to the land of the dead where they are told by Elder Gutknecht that if Victor takes his own life during a wedding ceremony in the land of the living, he and Emily will be joined forever.

There are complications with another suitor for Victoria’s hand, but the narrative is uncluttered by extraneous subplots—the film runs a brief 76 minutes—only breaking for a few unmemorable songs by Danny Elfman. While Elfman’s music was a necessary part of Burton’s earlier “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” here it seems more like it was welded on because animated films always include songs. They’re not painful, but they don’t add anything a minute or two of exposition wouldn’t have taken care of.

Johnny Depp voices Victor, a one-dimensional character that didn’t need someone of Depp’s talent. Ditto Emily Watson as Victoria, Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney as her parents, Tracey Ullman, Michael Gough, Christopher Lee, and Jane Horrocks.

It’s really a one-actor show and Helena Bonham Carter, in the title role, is brilliant. Emily is by turns coy, aggressive, angry, vengeful, shy, and always very much in love. Burton has certainly brought out the best in her by allowing her to let her hair down and leave off the bustles that used to follow her around in every role. Plus, Emily is very attractive, in a necrophilic kind of way.

Ah yes, necrophilia. Much has been made already of Emily’s sexiness, but it’s more than just a large, albeit blue and bloodless, bosom. And it’s really more than just the more colorful, livelier city of the dead. Emily represents the odd choice, the one we seldom make because it’s so much safer to do what everyone else does. Who would choose the dead over the living? Well, Tim Burton, for one.

There would be something tragic in Victor’s decision to wed Victoria instead of Emily if Victor were anything but a standard issue bourgeois. He can’t make an out of the ordinary choice because he’s too ordinary. It’s interesting that Emily thinks she fancies him and his boring life topside because it’s something she once aspired to herself.

There isn’t any joy in Victor and Victoria finding each other. They’re like Benjamin and Elaine at the end of “The Graduate,” together at last at the back of a bus, linked by what they think is love but with nothing to say to each other. The Corpse Bride’s joy is her final transcendence of the human, living or dead.

The film contains a few moments that might frighten the very youngest children, but as Burton so often does, he uses the spookshow iconography to invoke and then make fun of the things that used to give us that shiver of a childhood chill.

The movie isn’t quite magical, but it comes so close it reminds you of what movie magic used to be.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12831&reviewer=405
originally posted: 10/07/05 11:32:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/06/12 Mayfield Love this movie. Great for adults and children. 5 stars
5/06/11 brian Burton/Depp/Elfman triumph again! 5 stars
4/28/09 Stephen Fantastic movie, verry macarbe for a young odiance, but can be enjoyed by all 5 stars
2/13/09 lola after this movie i am in love with emily. 5 stars
1/11/09 Anonymous. such a sweet story :] 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner Well Made! 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT A QUIRKY ARTISTIC TRIUMPH 3 stars
1/04/08 Pamela White very cute in a dark way 4 stars
6/12/07 Dark Enchantress i loved it! 5 stars
5/12/07 ala burgeia i love it 5 stars
5/02/07 alkdjfh totally wicked awesome 5 stars
2/23/07 Clayton Excellent character development, emotional implications, accentuate soundtrack adds to mood 5 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Small fry will enjoy it better than adults. 3 stars
1/27/07 mets1986 Just as good as Nightmare.... 5 stars
1/03/07 Alex Thorne didnt like NBC, and found this quite dull. doesnt live up to the hype 2 stars
11/17/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Brilliant movie, but boring soundtrack. Elfman needs to write stronger songs. 5 stars
10/08/06 isis coooooooooool!!!!!! 5 stars
8/16/06 Gemma Northcott I really like this film and i would watch it over and over. 5 stars
8/01/06 C. Davis Good, but I need another watch to catch what is so special 4 stars
7/17/06 David Cohen See Burton, you can still make a good movie if you try 5 stars
6/29/06 MP Bartley Grisly, spooky fun with with and heart. 4 stars
6/21/06 Joanie how scary 1 stars
5/27/06 AD I love this movie! Great job Tim Burton! 5 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer Don't compare to "nightmare" This movie stands firmly alone. Music wasn't great. 4 stars
3/11/06 C Vega good fairy tale movie but no way near as good as "nightmare" 4 stars
3/03/06 lilian best ever 5 stars
3/02/06 Doremimi Nice visually, but I was bored to DEATH! 3 stars
2/20/06 Annie G If you want to "Nightmare.." again, I'd recommend rewatching it instead. 3 stars
2/20/06 Jim Not sure what all the fuss was about 3 stars
2/04/06 HL Why even reference it to TNBC..This is incredible regardless of comparison! 5 stars
1/09/06 Jack Farnsworth Haven't seen it 5 stars
1/08/06 Quigley this movie was a work of directoral and visual genius. way to go, tim burton! oscars? 5 stars
12/23/05 Michele strange but cute 3 stars
12/22/05 Brian Johnson 2nd place to Nightmare, but still fun 4 stars
12/10/05 chris wonderful 5 stars
12/04/05 Hernan loved the music and character design 4 stars
11/07/05 malcolm drab colors were kinda boring. we've seen this style before. just a longcartoon. 3 stars
11/01/05 Jacqueline Ward-Isaac Brilliant film! Tim Burton lives up to The Nightmare Before Christmas! It was very amusing! 5 stars
10/26/05 Deadwiz Not as good as TNBC, but it will do... 4 stars
10/24/05 Adam The visuals are great, but the plot is predictable; the ending was lacking..felt unfinished 3 stars
10/21/05 Tina Totally enjoyed it - beautiful to watch and fun. 5 stars
10/15/05 Quigley why isn't anyone stating the obvious? this film is a visual, geniusly done masterpiece 5 stars
10/09/05 LOLO Outstanding and truly lovely film. Maybe not as good as NBC but has its own charm! 5 stars
10/04/05 Sam Really great, probably one to see again and again. But never as good as NmBC! 5 stars
10/04/05 drfardook Visually... its very good. Plot is ok, but the characters motivations fall flat. 3 stars
10/03/05 Meryl Stupid, half-finished, musically deficient dreck. What happened, Tim? What happened? 2 stars
10/02/05 Bee We've wanted to see this film since the previews came out, months ago. Today, on a 'dark a 5 stars
10/02/05 watson387 Excellent! 5 stars
9/29/05 E. Northam Burton charmingly revisits eerie themes, bizarre vistas & transgressive characters. 3 stars
9/26/05 KingNeutron Nicely animated, but the 2 major plot decisions don't make sense. 3 stars
9/23/05 Titus Glad I saw it, but once was plenty. Kinda forced and dry. Not Burton's best. 3 stars
9/15/05 mike b just saw a screening; not as much music as the nightmare before xmas flick, but very good! 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Sep-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 31-Jan-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-Nov-2005




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