movie film review | chris tookey

Tim Burtonís Corpse Bride

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  Tim Burtonís Corpse Bride Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
7.56 /10
Victor Van Dort (pictured): Johnny Depp , Emily
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Directed by: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Written by: John August, Pamela Pettler, Caroline Thompson

Released: 2005
Origin: UK
Length: 78

Outstanding visuals and cast, with a less outstanding script.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Tim Burton himself co-directs (with Mike Johnson) Tim Burtonís Corpse Bride. Set in more-or-less Victorian times, though in a landscape unknown in this universe, this is a ghoulish fable about a nervous, tongue-tied, spectacularly spindly young man called Victor (voiced, with an impeccable English accent, by Johnny Depp). He is ordered by his crass, nouveau-riche parents (Paul Whitehouse and Tracey Ullman) to undergo an arranged marriage with Victoria (Emily Watson), the shy, pretty daughter of greedy but impoverished aristocrats (Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley).

Against the odds, and despite the mysterious appearance of Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant), a sinister smoothie with an eye for the ladies, Victor and Victoria find they are made for each other. But Victorís nervousness causes him to botch the wedding rehearsal, and he is ordered to go off and rehearse his lines by the apoplectic pastor (Christopher Lee).

Unfortunately, when Victor wanders into the waste ground outside the town, he inadvertently proposes to a recently interred corpse (Helena Bonham Carter). Victor is understandably unnerved by the fact that she has a talking maggot behind one eyeball and her limbs have a nasty tendency to drop off, but despite his objections he is lugged off to the underground Land of the Dead.

This turns out to be a lot more fun than the staid and sombre Land of the Living, and no one can understand why Victor wants to go back. ďWhy go up there,Ē inquires one skeleton, ďwhen people are dying to get down here?Ē Will Victor ever manage to escape from this world of weird and wacky musical numbers by Danny Elfman, and return to his one true, living love?

Much of Corpse Bride is highly imaginative and marvellously lively for a movie so obsessed with death. In terms of visual wit, it is even more visually ingenious Ė and funnier - than Burtonís previous foray into non-cartoon animation, The Nightmare Before Christmas. I know many people (mainly grown-ups) who will enjoy it.

Iím less enthusiastic about the screenplay, written by John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) and the less experienced Pamela Pettler. It has flashes of verbal wit and a fine feeling for the macabre, but it always seems undecided about whether to appeal primarily to children or to adults. Some children, especially younger ones, will find it too nightmarish to be fun.

The movie cleverly creates its world of exaggerated grotesquerie. The trouble is that although we marvel at it, we never become fully involved with its inhabitants.

The thin storyline and emaciated characters result in a movie that seems stretched, even at 76 minutes. I had a good time, but Ė especially as in the UK itís released at the same time as the more skillfully child-oriented Nanny McPhee and the fully-realised masterpiece Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit Ė I fear itís going to struggle for that all-important family audience.

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