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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
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by Laura Kyle

"Not as good as Nightmare Before Christmas, but still striking."
5 stars

Corpse Bride doesn’t boast half the charm of Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s got doubly awesome visuals and is easily worth your eight bucks at the local cinema.

Burton’s "Land of the Living" is a drab world where shades of gray seldom give way to brighter colors and inhabitants are almost all excessively ugly, with fat, pointed chins, jagged angles, and nasty personalities to boot.

His underworld, ironically, features burning yellows and oranges and is crowded with lively, drunken skeletons and is also home to the beautiful, though incidentally dead, Corpse Bride (voiced by Helana Bonham Carter), with sunken in eyeballs that occasionally pop out. She is awakened when the living Victor (Johnny Depp), betrothed to an equally alive Victoria (Emily Watson), plants a ring on her finger and accidentally asks her to marry him instead.

Thus, an unusual love triangle is set in stop motion.

The absurdly cartoonish clay creations and wonderfully exaggerated, sinister backdrops are precisely what moviegoers expect from Burton’s latest animated effort (although this is really his first try at “directing” a full-length motion picture in this genre), and they'll get it in spades. Corpse Bride is a delight to the eyes and in a decade of flashy, smooth digital effects, it’s one of the most refreshing films in recent memory because it’s something we don’t often see.

Animation like this requires painstaking and tedious physical labor and the final product oozes with such personal, artistic creativity. Like a painting, a sculpture, or an early Disney animated feature, there’s a certain quality here that moviegoers crave – they just don't react the same way to a light saber fight in Star Wars. Somebody literally crafted these characters with their bare hands. Indeed, Corpse Bride has an inherently special way of capturing the imagination of its audience.

There are digital flourishes, of course, but they blend in flawlessly with the claymation – in fact, computerized special effects are a phenomenal match with already, in a sense, animated visuals. The imagery in Corpse Bride is simply stunning, superior to that in the Nightmare Before Christmas (which is still a gorgeous, visual masterpiece on its own).

All the ingredients that were mixed in together so well in Nightmare, are here. You’ve got Victor, who’s pale and remarkably skinny, with a pet skeleton dog (Jack!) and the Corpse Bride, his pining admirer, has limbs that frequently depart from her body (Sally). Victor’s got a touch of Depp’s other Burton character, Edward Scissor-Hands, too.

The acting from Burton’s regulars is spot-on – especially Depp, whose crackly, wimpy voice, as the apologetic, melancholy Victor, is only recognizable because we’re listening out for it.

And yet, there’s something so frustratingly forgettable about these characters and this story. Clever puns are all over the place, but they hardly make up for the mostly dull, unsurprising writing.

Also, I’m sad to report that Corpse Bride’s occasional song is hardly memorable or inspired; the music merely serves to classify the film as a musical. It’s even disappointing. One anticipates a more generous share of talent from composer Danny Elfman. Elfman’s persistent instrumental score is marginally better, though it’s a bit recycled.

But shit, how can you rag on a filmmaker like Tim Burton, who’s evidently still at the top of his game and clearly loves making movies? He’s a master of the art form and his talents are widely on display in Corpse Bride, which is no loser of a film, by any means.

Weak plot aside, Corpse Bride is a real treat, especially if you make a bit of an effort to dig up the more meaningful comments about society.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/25/05 14:15:52
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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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