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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Burton's 'Corpse Bride' surprisingly lively

"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," the long-awaited follow-up for fans of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," sustains a sense of fun and accessibility, but isn't quite up to its predecessor's originality.

"Corpse Bride," though, certainly reaches its artistic expectations and simultaneously provides a fun, if fleeting, evening's worth of entertainment to a varied group of moviegoers.

"The Corpse Bride" opens as a marriage is being arranged between Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp), the son of wealthy fishmongers, and Victoria Everglot (voiced by Emily Watson), the daughter of bankrupt aristocrats. Despite several clumsy first attempts - mostly on Victor's part --they seem to have fallen in love by the end of their first meeting. Unfortunately, Victor fails to properly recite his vows during the rehearsal wedding and ends up running into the woods to practice.

There, he accidentally says his vows a bit too well and places the wedding ring on to what he believes is a tree branch, but is actually the skeleton of the Corpse Bride. Victor ends up inadvertently marrying her and is initially scared out of his wits. Instead of a fearsome monster, however, the Corpse Bride ends up being a poor girl named Emily (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Murdered before her wedding day, Emily is still looking for her own true love, whom she now believes to be Victor.

Meanwhile, upon Victor's disappearance, Victoria has been re-engaged to another man, the suspicious Lord Barkis. What follows is a sweet, if simple, tale of love lost and gained as Victor, Victoria and Emily struggle to put their hearts in the right place.

Thankfully, despite the romantic nature of the storyline, the humor of many of Tim Burton's films is retained. The audience has chances to laugh as skeletons tell a priest about to start exorcising demons to "Keep it down, will yer? We're in a church."

Emily pouts about her rival Victoria, calling her "Little Miss Living," and Victor tells his already skeletal dog to "play dead." The film's comedic elements are some of its best and most charming attractions.

The music is not nearly as successful as the humor. Though the score and the numerous piano pieces Victor - and occasionally Emily - play add to the movie's appeal, the actual singing parts are at best unforgettable. Often the songs feel forced, and while their straightforward fun may entertain the younger members of the audience, the older crowd will be less enthused.

Once again, Tim Burton's use of stop-motion animation, despite computer advancements, results in a quirkily beautiful film. The worlds of the living and the dead are strikingly painted in very different colors that match their feel.

Ironically, the land of the dead is filled with bright neon colors, while the land of the living is painted in muted grays and purples, reflecting the idea that only death or love can overcome the world's difficulties and trivialities.

The stop-motion animation itself provides an enjoyable and whimsical look to the movie that is often lost in the "perfection" of computer-generated images. Because they are animated, the characters' physical appearances become great reflectors of their personalities.

"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," like "The Nightmare Before Christmas," does excel at remaining entertaining for audiences of all ages and types. The PG rating and fun storyline attracts kids, while the humor attracts older crowds and the artistry tempts film enthusiasts.

With its mass appeal, quirky beauty and entertaining storyline, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" is a fun movie definitely worth catching before it passes on.