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Laramie Movie Scope:
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

An animated feast for the eyes

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 28, 2005 -- “Tim Burton's Corpse Bride” is a great looking animated film featuring Burton's trademark bittersweet story themes and otherworldly visual style. Unfortunately, the story is as weak as the visuals are stunning. It is a pleasant enough movie to watch and it's heart is in the right place. It is just not very compelling.

The stop-motion animation used in the film gives it a look very similar to Burton's “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The story has a clumsy bridegroom, Victor (voice by Johnny Depp) being kicked out of his wedding rehearsal because he keeps forgetting his lines. Alone, he wanders into a forest to practice his vows. He recites the vows perfectly and slides the ring onto a piece of wood, only to discover this piece of wood is really the finger of a skeleton. The skeleton (voice by Helena Bonham-Carter) rises and declares that she and Victor are now husband and wife. Actually the corpse bride is only about half skeletal, the other half has partially decayed flesh, including a maggot (voice by Enn Reitel) that keeps popping out of her head, sometimes pushing out an eye in the process. The maggot has a voice that sounds like Peter Lorre).

I know this sounds dreadful, but the comedic elements of the film (including a singing black widow spider) are funny enough to offset the disgusting images. Other images include a man split in two, two corpses with swords, knives and meat cleavers stuck into them, a head with no body and numerous skeletons. All of these colorful images reside in the land of the dead, which is more cheerful looking than the relatively bland world of the living.

While Victor is dealing with his corpse bride problem, his living bride-to-be, Victoria Everglot (yes, a reference to the film “Victor Victoria”) is having her own problems. Her family wants her to marry a sinister suitor who intends to murder her. Victor needs to escape the land of the dead so he can save his bride. One of the problems with the story is the romance between Victor and Victoria has no time to develop since theirs is an arranged marriage and they had not met prior to the wedding rehearsal. They are torn apart soon after they meet. Victor and his corpse bride, on the other hand do spend a lot of time together and do develop a relationship. This makes for a very shaky balance in this living and dead romantic triangle. The dramatic scenes at the end of the film would have worked better if the foundation for a real relationship between Victor and Victoria had been established. The story works, but there is little romantic or dramatic tension in it.

There are numerous movie in-jokes and references to other films. When Victor sits down at a piano early in the film, the brand name on the piano is shown to be Harryhausen, a reference to Ray Harryhausen, the king of stop-motion animation. Harryhausen's ground breaking special effects work is showcased in such films as “Clash of the Titans” and “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” (which featured animated skeletons). One of the songs in the film is called “Remains of the Day,” a reference to a film of the same name. By the way, Danny Elfman, who composed the music for this film, also performs the voice of the character Bonejangles. Another funny character name is General Bonesapart. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2005 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)