Corpse Bride Review

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by Casimir Harlow Mar 1, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    Corpse Bride Review
    Tim Burton, the man behind the original Batman and Batman Returns movies, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and no end of other fantastical, visually opulent adventures, turned his hand to animation a few years back with the extremely popular A Nightmare before Christmas. It seemed like a natural step for him to take - giving him even more opportunities to express his vivid imagination on the screen, without any of the restrictions that live-action might invoke. After the success of his first foray, he returns here (admittedly largely just inputting his visual ideas about characters and settings) to provide us with The Corpse Bride.

    Victor (voiced in an almost unrecognisably placid manner by Johnny Depp) is due to marry Victoria (Emily Watson) and, whilst they are clearly in love and happy with the proposal (even if it is an arranged marriage), Victor simply cannot get anything right. He is so nervous that he will make a mistake that all he does is make mistakes, knocking things over, forgetting his vows during the wedding rehearsal and generally making a big fool of himself.

    One night he is out practising his lines in the middle of the woods - seemingly alone - acting out the gesture of putting the ring on his intended's finger by placing it on what he thinks is a dead branch. Moments later the branch comes to life and Victor is pulled into the ground and into another world - the land of the dead. It turns out that he inadvertently promised himself to a dead woman - the corpse bride of the title (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter) - who seems intent on keeping Victor for himself. But what of his true love, Victoria, who is waiting for him back in the land of the living?

    The Corpse Bride is a charming, sweet and endearing feel-good movie which weaves a typical magical fairytale story, only with that expectedly dark and stylish Tim Burton edge. Using state of the art 'puppets' (we're not talking Team America parody here, these puppets are frighteningly realistic in their gestures, mannerisms and facial expressions), he really manages to bring the characters to life in a way that even surpasses his acclaimed efforts on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Corpse Bride will make you laugh, hopefully will not make you sing along too much (with a couple of tolerable musical numbers) and is likely to have you really feeling for these characters and their plight.

    Aside from having Johnny Depp in the lead (although, as I've stated, you can barely recognise him with his particularly coy manner here) and Helena Bonham Carter giving it some verve as the passionate Corpse Bride, there are plenty of recognisable voices in supporting roles, from the domineering Christopher Lee as the reverent who is due to perform the wedding, to the ever-charismatic Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley as Victoria's parents. All in all it is a nice little vocal cast that round off an excellent production.

    Perhaps not quite as darkly humorous as Beetlejuice, nor as just plain dark as Batman, Corpse Bride still retains that Burton edge which will make it far more endearing for those fearful of yet another cheesy fairytale animation. Just like productions like Shrek rely on the comedy aspects to set them a cut above, Burton's productions utilise his unique gift and eye for style, as well as his dark sense of humour, to offer audiences something new. Fans of his work should not be disappointed and this one comes recommended.

    The Rundown

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