19 April 2006

Disappearing Ink #9 - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

If you are into necrophilia, this movie may disappoint you as the main character Victor and the Corpse have a strictly platonic relationship. The film opens with Victor and Victoria preparing to meet the day before their arranged marriage. While both sets of parents are creepy and self serving, Vic and Vicky are both genuine and likeable good people. When the two meet, there is a spark that makes them think the arrangement may not be so bad. Unfortunately, Vic being a bit of a klutz keeps messing up the rehearsal. When he goes outside to practice his vows, he accidentally marries a corpse.

There are a number of good things going for this film. Vic and Vicky do manage to generate a real romantic air without the film being cheesy at all. The audience really pulls for them to be together in the face of their misfortune. The Corpse also is a sympathetic character, not a monster, who the audience wants to find peace and a happily ever after. Stop motion animation can be distracting if done poorly, but the smoothness of the effect in Corpse Bride is incredible, and the medium suits itself perfectly to this film's gothic feel.

While the art designs are intricate and creative, Corpse Bride falls victim to comparison of Burton's other masterpieces, The Nightmare Before Christmas in particular. Compared to Nightmare, Corpse Bride's characters seem almost unimaginative, and the dead seem fairly tame. My favorite designs are of the land of the living. Burton made an interesting choice to make the land of the living very cold and dark almost exclusively using black white and gray colors for everything. In contrast, the land of the dead uses a much more extensive color palette incorporating blues and greens into the skin tones of the characters. Thus, the land of the dead is given a warmer and more lively mood. In theory, this is a clever creative choice, though the colorful cast of dead seem so unnatural that the colors just don't work. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride also contains several musical pieces. While adequate, none of them are as catchy as Nightmare's masterful score. Danny Elfman really dropped the ball here, as a couple more memorable tunes would have really invigorated the film.

While this film may never escape the shadow of Burton's Nightmare, it is a good film in its own right with a surprising amount of heart. It's just that I expected a bit more, and I could't stop thinking that I had already seen a better version of this movie. Regrettably, I can only give this film a B-.

Check out my past reviews:
Princess Mononoke
The Black Cauldron
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy


j said...

Yet another film that I've heard about but not seen. I guess I just don't see that many movies.

At least now if I decide I do want to watch a movie I have plenty to choose from.

Chip Chief said...

Dude, with a new choice every week, you better get watching.

j said...

I know, I'm already so far behind. And I don't think you've yet to review a single one that I've ever seen.

HoneyBee said...

lol, yeah. i said the same thing about necrophilia.

Chip Chief said...


you must be as picky with your movies as you are with your fast food. i guess i should review some more mainstream ones before i run out of these "indie" picks. actually, after next week, i am going to have monthly themes. that should be fun.