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Corpse Bride (PG-13)

Release Date: September 16th, 2005 by Warner Brothers Pictures.
The Voices: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracy Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee
Directed by Tim Burton.

BASIC PREMISE: An animated film about Victor (Depp) who leaves the altar before marrying Victoria (Watson) in the Land of the Living, but accidentally ends up marrying a corpse (Carter) from the Land of the Dead.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: There are so many wonders of Tim Burton's iconic visual style that it is impossible for your eyes and ears not to be entertained. Burton excels in turning morbid themes into lively celebrations of life and vice-versa. In this film, this is immediately clear because the Land of the Living is very monotonous and glum while the Land of the Dead is full of energy, off-beat humor, and even some bright colors. The plot fails to introduce Victoria because, from the very start of the film, they are about to get married. There is a little bit of humor as Victor tries to light a candle and accidentally lights up a woman's dress. Then, he accidentally drops the ring and accidentally recites his vows to a corpse while he runs away through a forest from the altar. It's certainly not a lucky night for him with all these accidents. When he enters the Land of the Dead, the dark, absurd visual humor really pick up a lot of intensity. For example, there is a man who is cut in half, so when Victor bumps into him, he splits into two. Then there's the corpse bride whose loose eyeball keeps on falling from her socket and a hilarious maggot who dwells inside. Later on, a dog from the Land of the Living sniffs the rear end of a dog who nothing but bones from the Land of the Dead. There are two problems that cause conflicts: 1) Barkis (Grant), an older man, is next in line to marry her; 2) The corpse bride is in love with Victor but she realizes that the vows include "'til death do you part", which would mean she cannot be married to him unless she kills him. Unfortunately, with very little character development, it is hard to care for either Victoria or the corpse bride. It is refreshing that neither of them is evil, but, in the end, both of them are one-dimensional and dull. If only the pace would slow down a bit and focus on the characters, it would be much more entertaining. However, the creative visuals are quite the contrary--including some surprisingly lively, tuneful musical numbers. The voices do justice to the characters, especially Helena Bonham Carter as the wacky corpse bride. Fortunately, this film never overstays its welcome with its running time of just 76 minutes.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are a few moving scenes, such as when the people from the Land of the Living meet their loved ones from the Land of the Dead. The ending is also quite touching, but there is not enough character development to really shed a tear. There is a brief mention of freedom in the end, but it is not very insightful or profound.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable plot and minimal character development.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A thoroughly entertaining film on a visual and musical level, but without much character development, it is difficult to be truly invested in the story with your heart and soul. There is plenty of iconic Tim Burton humor and imagination to sustain your attention for the brief running time. However, it doesn't even come close to being a classic film as one might have hoped for.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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