Corpse Bride is a 2005 British-American stop-motion animated fantasy film directed by Mike Johnson and Tim Burton. Other-wise known for not directing The Nightmare Before Christmas and having nothing to do with Caroline, Tim Burton is a skilled and proven mastermind of the stop-motion genre of film.
The film stars the voice-acting talents of Johnny Depp, as well as Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, and Tracy Ullman.
The film received positive reception from critics and audience-members and did well at the box-office, making nearly three-times its budget.
I wanted to see this film for a number of reasons. For the most part, I enjoy Tim Burton’s work, and for the most part, I enjoy Johnny Depp, and the duo has also occasionally been nice enough to make a few together. (Some are nice. Others are not.) Either way, I also really enjoy stop-motion, and while this is the first time that Tim Burton directed a stop-motion film, he did write the original story that led to A Nightmare Before Christmas, and his imagery and style is well-documented.
The film follows a shy fella that finds himself in an arranged marriage. However, he finds himself unable to do his marriage vows because of his nerves. While practicing, he inadvertently says his wedding vows in the presence of a deceased young woman that arises from her grave carrying the belief that she has finally been married.
The story is definitely simple, and definitely happens in a far-fetched way, but the potential for entertainment-value is undeniable. The premise sets the stage for some of Tim Burton’s unique stylization and scenery, and does so well enough. With that being said, the stop-motion theatrics and the imagery definitely accomplishes everything that someone might have expected from it.
Beyond all else, what will matter is that the characters are imaginative and colorful. Similar to A Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride attempts to add musical elements into the concept. Unfortunately, I didn’t like any of the songs. From a lyrical perspective, none of them are memorable, but also from a musical perspective, none of them are as melodic or worthwhile enough to justify their existence with the film.
While all of the actors and actresses do their roles decently enough that none of them are worth acknowledging for a fault, the characters themselves lack the charm and whimsical styling that I would have liked. More than anything, if a story is done in such a way that is this simple than it needs to have the characters to back it up. This one didn’t have that. Besides their appearance, which is done well, they had no real noteworthy dialogue or antics to back themselves up.
Johnny Depp does well enough as the fumbling Victor, but he alone isn’t enough to carry the film.
The plot is everything that it needed to be for Tim Burton to be able to make something, but that dependent variable needed more ‘flash’ to be honest. A Nightmare Before Christmas, for example, had a simple premise, albeit much more convoluted than this one, but it also had amazing characters to build it around. As well as disturbing imagery and enjoyable musical scores. Corpse Bride has a simple premise, but doesn’t have what it takes to carry itself. It feels more like Tim Burton attempting to follow a niche more than trying to innovate or achieve something new with his legacy.
In conclusion, I don’t want it to be felt that I thought this was a bad movie. Corpse Bride isn’t a bad movie. Instead, it fails at achieving what I wanted from it. For what it is, the film is an underwhelming but other-wise entertaining film that does well the art of stop-motion. It merely fails at being anything more than an ‘okay’ film.
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