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The Corpse Bride | review | dvd | Lollipop
The Corpse Bride
by Chad Van Wagner
One thing about Tim Burton: Usually, when he works, his ideas seem obvious... for him. His persona/outlook/aesthetic is so complete that you know exactly what to expect, but are still amazed that anyone could think of it.
It's true with The Corpse Bride. It's the kind of thing that's so Burtonesque that anyone else attempting it would be showered with accusations of plagiarism, or at least coattail riding. The story revolves around Victor (Johnny Depp), a Victorian-era guy with a strong sense of decency and duty. He's looking at an arranged marriage to Victoria (Emily Watson), but happily hits it off with his bride-to-be. So far so good. Problem is, while practicing his vows, he inadvertently says them in the presence of a dead woman (Helena Bonham Carter) who rises from the dead to claim her new husband.
Oh yes, one thing: It's the same stop action animation used in Burton's (superior) The Nightmare Before Christmas, so they can get away with things that would never fly in a "family" movie: Implied suicide, wisecracking maggots who live in eye sockets, that kind of thing. Enormously entertaining stuff, to be sure.
Now, I mentioned that the previous Burton stop action project was superior. This is true. The Corpse Bride is not the film its predecessor is. The visuals are a bit less distinguished, the songs (by the often spectacularly brilliant, but occasionally pedestrian, Danny Elfman) don't really stick out, and the story just kind of chugs along with little sense of building drama (despite a traditional melodramatic structure). Even at less that 90 minutes, it occasionally drags.
All of which doesn't really change the answer to the question "Is it worth seeing?" Because it definitely is. Just don't go in expecting to have the top of your skull blown off.