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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 37.1%
Average: 14.52%
Pretty Bad: 6.45%
Total Crap: 0.81%

12 reviews, 52 user ratings

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Corpse Bride
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Corpse Bride: The Courtney Love story."
4 stars

You can disqualify me from reviewing "Corpse Bride" if you want to, because I never cared much for "The Nightmare Before Christmas," the 1993 stop-motion animation film that is in many ways its progenitor. So it could be that my lack of fervent enthusiasm for the new film is due to a similar case of just not "getting" it.

As you may know, "Corpse Bride" was painstakingly made using models of the characters which are positioned, photographed, moved slightly, photographed again, and so on, thousands and thousands of times. The feats involved in creating such a film weigh heavily on my mind as I watch it. All the effort involved! Such a tedious process, yet so creative, too. Think of the imagination necessary to put together something like this.

Unfortunately, I was thinking about all of this because my mind was wandering away from the content of the film, which is creative but not altogether genius. The movie is clever, but not particularly funny. It has a few songs, but it's not really a "musical." It's OK, but it's not great.

It's the gothic tale of quiet young Victor Van Dort (voice of Johnny Depp), whose nouveau-riche parents have arranged a marriage between him and Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson), daughter of a loathsome Lord and Lady whom the Van Dorts mistakenly believe are still rich. After a nerve-wracking wedding rehearsal, Victor goes for a walk in the woods and, while practicing his vows, accidentally proposes marriage to ... a corpse. The corpse of a woman named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), specifically, who has lain dormant waiting for her true love to come along and marry her. And now he has! Sort of!

She whisks Victor down to the world of the dead, where skeletons and half-eaten bodies live a merry life (well, not "life," really, but you know what I mean) apart from the "breathers" up on the surface. Victor is terrified, but from a purely objective viewpoint, these dead people are enjoying themselves far more than the stiffs in Victor's dull village do. I note that while the scenes among the living are in dreary grays, the dead are in full color.

A sort of triangle develops then, between Emily the Corpse Bride, Victoria the living one, and Victor, who was beginning to feel a fondness for Victoria but who is sympathetic to Emily's plight, too. Victoria's sour parents (voiced by Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney) have a few things to say about it the "unfaithful" Victor and this other woman, since their plan to marry their daughter to a rich family has been thwarted.

It's all a Tim Burton production, as you know, and it has all the morbid pleasures of one. Burton co-directed with animator Mike Johnson, and while he doesn't officially get story credit (the screenplay is by Pamela Pettler, Caroline Thompson and John August), the idea has been rattling around that odd head of his for a decade. Danny Elfman provides the music, of course, and many of the cast members are Burton regulars, too, including some whom he persuaded to do double duty when he had them on hand for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

The last 15 minutes are terrific, actually, as the dead join the living and the oddball humor bounces off the walls like stink off a corpse. Prior to that much-needed enlivening, the film is fanciful and whimsical, but only marginally entertaining. It's the kind of movie you see, not the kind you see again.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/23/05 14:51:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/07/12 Mayfield Love this movie. Great for adults and children. 5 stars
5/07/11 brian Burton/Depp/Elfman triumph again! 5 stars
4/29/09 Stephen Fantastic movie, verry macarbe for a young odiance, but can be enjoyed by all 5 stars
2/14/09 lola after this movie i am in love with emily. 5 stars
1/11/09 Anonymous. such a sweet story :] 4 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Well Made! 5 stars
1/05/08 Pamela White very cute in a dark way 4 stars
6/13/07 Dark Enchantress i loved it! 5 stars
5/13/07 ala burgeia i love it 5 stars
5/03/07 alkdjfh totally wicked awesome 5 stars
2/24/07 Clayton Excellent character development, emotional implications, accentuate soundtrack adds to mood 5 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Small fry will enjoy it better than adults. 3 stars
1/28/07 mets1986 Just as good as Nightmare.... 5 stars
1/04/07 Alex Thorne didnt like NBC, and found this quite dull. doesnt live up to the hype 2 stars
11/18/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Brilliant movie, but boring soundtrack. Elfman needs to write stronger songs. 5 stars
10/08/06 isis coooooooooool!!!!!! 5 stars
8/16/06 Gemma Northcott I really like this film and i would watch it over and over. 5 stars
8/02/06 C. Davis Good, but I need another watch to catch what is so special 4 stars
7/18/06 David Cohen See Burton, you can still make a good movie if you try 5 stars
6/30/06 MP Bartley Grisly, spooky fun with with and heart. 4 stars
6/22/06 Joanie how scary 1 stars
5/28/06 AD I love this movie! Great job Tim Burton! 5 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Don't compare to "nightmare" This movie stands firmly alone. Music wasn't great. 4 stars
3/12/06 C Vega good fairy tale movie but no way near as good as "nightmare" 4 stars
3/04/06 lilian best ever 5 stars
3/03/06 Doremimi Nice visually, but I was bored to DEATH! 3 stars
2/21/06 Annie G If you want to "Nightmare.." again, I'd recommend rewatching it instead. 3 stars
2/21/06 Jim Not sure what all the fuss was about 3 stars
2/05/06 HL Why even reference it to TNBC..This is incredible regardless of comparison! 5 stars
1/09/06 Jack Farnsworth Haven't seen it 5 stars
1/08/06 Quigley this movie was a work of directoral and visual genius. way to go, tim burton! oscars? 5 stars
12/24/05 Michele strange but cute 3 stars
12/23/05 Brian Johnson 2nd place to Nightmare, but still fun 4 stars
12/11/05 chris wonderful 5 stars
12/05/05 Hernan loved the music and character design 4 stars
11/08/05 malcolm drab colors were kinda boring. we've seen this style before. just a longcartoon. 3 stars
11/02/05 Jacqueline Ward-Isaac Brilliant film! Tim Burton lives up to The Nightmare Before Christmas! It was very amusing! 5 stars
10/27/05 Deadwiz Not as good as TNBC, but it will do... 4 stars
10/25/05 Adam The visuals are great, but the plot is predictable; the ending was lacking..felt unfinished 3 stars
10/22/05 Tina Totally enjoyed it - beautiful to watch and fun. 5 stars
10/16/05 Quigley why isn't anyone stating the obvious? this film is a visual, geniusly done masterpiece 5 stars
10/10/05 LOLO Outstanding and truly lovely film. Maybe not as good as NBC but has its own charm! 5 stars
10/05/05 Sam Really great, probably one to see again and again. But never as good as NmBC! 5 stars
10/05/05 drfardook Visually... its very good. Plot is ok, but the characters motivations fall flat. 3 stars
10/03/05 Meryl Stupid, half-finished, musically deficient dreck. What happened, Tim? What happened? 2 stars
10/03/05 Bee We've wanted to see this film since the previews came out, months ago. Today, on a 'dark a 5 stars
10/03/05 watson387 Excellent! 5 stars
9/29/05 E. Northam Burton charmingly revisits eerie themes, bizarre vistas & transgressive characters. 3 stars
9/26/05 KingNeutron Nicely animated, but the 2 major plot decisions don't make sense. 3 stars
9/24/05 Titus Glad I saw it, but once was plenty. Kinda forced and dry. Not Burton's best. 3 stars
9/16/05 mike b just saw a screening; not as much music as the nightmare before xmas flick, but very good! 4 stars
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  16-Sep-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 31-Jan-2006



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