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Corpse Bride Review

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by AVForums Feb 1, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    Corpse Bride Review
    There's been a grave misunderstanding.

    Stop-Motion animation seems to be getting a bit of a revival, or certainly a few releases have all been timed around the same time frame, what with Valiant, Wallace and Gromit and now Corpse Bride. However, the difference between this title and the aforementioned two is in the guise of director Tim Burton, for whom the term “light and fluffy” couldn't ever be applied to.

    Victor Van Dort (Depp) is one half of an arranged wedding, the other half being Victoria Everglot (Watson). As per the norm, they have to go through the wedding rehearsal, where Victor keeps getting his vows wrong, even after 3 hours of trying. Pastor Galswells (Lee) makes it quite vocal that the young boy clearly doesn't wish to get married and tells him to learn his vows and not return until he gets them right. So, off into the woods our bumbling Victor goes, reciting his vows until he finally gets them right, but when he does he slips the ring onto what he believes to be a tree branch, but it is actually the bony finger of Emily (Bonham-Carter), the titular corpse bride. Now that he's actually performed the ceremony correctly, he finds himself married to Emily, although he'd rather be married to Victoria, even if he only met her for the first time that very day. So the question is, does Victor break Emily's heart by leaving her or does he break Victoria's heart by keeping true to his vows. If that's not complicated enough, due to Victor's marriage, Victoria's parents Maudeline and Finnis (Lumley and Finney) decide that, due to Victor's accidental nuptials, she should marry Lord Barkis (Grant), thinking that the Lord is wealthy while they are penniless (the original reason for Victoria to marry Victor was wealth also), but Barkis has his own agenda and a very dark secret too.

    Tim Burton's second movie of the year and arguably to me, the better of the two. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate factory, but I've always liked Nightmare, so I was really looking forward to this. First things first, I have to say it's not as easily accessible as Nightmare was and I can't quite put my finger on why. It has a lot of the same similarities - from the gothic design, Danny Elfman soundtrack and songs and I'm sure I've seen Scraps, Victor's dog, somewhere before. It just seems a little harder to get into, but when you do get it, which took me my second attempt at viewing, it is well worth it. I will admit, having seen the cast that I wondered if there was a meeting on the set of Charlie, where Burton asks everyone if they fancied earning a few dollars more by doing some voice work - indeed the movie was filmed in England, as was Charlie, so it does fit. Depp isn't obvious in his choice of voice, by which I mean I wouldn't necessarily have known if it wasn't mentioned. Bonham-Carter is kind of obvious, but then being married to the director doesn't hurt and she does work very well. Most obvious vocal talents are Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney and Paul Woodhouse, whose voice is very similar to the “Old Gits” from Harry Enfield fame. Indeed, I was waiting for a “Yer old bugger” type comment from his character as it was that similar. Of course, the real star of the show is the animation, which is very slickly done but the story is really well done also, with some nice humour throughout, from the little visual gags (Elder Gutknecht scratching his head for example, or the jaw dropping moment in the Church) to the dialogue related ones (“Keep it down, we're in a Church” or “Dearly beloved and departed, we are here gathered here today to join this man and this corpse.”). The movie doesn't drag, at a running time of 77 minutes, it is pretty brisk. However, for those who hate musical numbers, you may have slight issues as there are a few in here. But please, don't let that put you off. There is much to enjoy here and compared to the aforementioned movies at the beginning, I'd rather watch this than that unfunny Wallace and his bunny.