Tim Burton at this Tim Burton-est
JLFM - wrote on 12/11/13
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is not unlike Tim Burton's other films. They're dark, a bit creepy, with predictably Burton-esque visuals, and are peppered with bits of macabre humor. It would not be outlandish to merely dismiss Corpse Bride as "just another Burton film." Alas, even though Burton's Gothic film-making formula hasn't changed much, one should not forget that Burton's signature style is one of the things that make his films so appealing. Corpse Bride is no exception.
Set in the Victorian Era, Corpse Bride is about a young man named Victor that is forced by his parents to be wed to a young woman named Victoria, whom he has never even met. However, there's a change in plans when Victor gets into a bizarre mix-up, and accidentally proposes to a corpse named Emily.
This review could quite simply be summed up in a single sentence: If you enjoyed Tim Burton's other efforts, you will likely enjoy this one. The similarities between this film and others by Burton are numerous. And yet, Corpse Bride never feels stale or rehashed.
Corpse Bride focuses on two worlds: The World of the Living, and the World of the Dead. The World of the Living has a grey and white color scheme, to the point where scenes in this world appear to be in black and white. The character designs here are deliciously Burton, and consistently inventive. The satire humor used in these scenes are always successful.
The World of the Dead is supposed to be a more lively environment, but surprisingly, it's actually less interesting and creative than the World of the Living. While some scenes in this world utilize bright colors (giving off a distinctive Día de Muertos vibe), many of the scenes are just filmed with a darker color palette. It's similar to the palette used in the World of the Living, but much less exaggerated, and therefore, less interesting.
In addition, the residents of the World of the Dead are limited to skeletons and occasional corpses, which don't allow for especially interesting character designs.
Despite less than successful contrast, Corpse Bride is still supremely entertaining. There is not a single dull moment, thanks to the always fascinating clay-mation and intriguing story. The characters are likable and funny, and the ending is surprisingly touching.
The voice acting is superb. Johnny Depp's performance as Victor perfectly captures the shy, nervous nature of the character. Emma Watson as Victoria is also excellent- though on a side note, the character itself has an unexpected resemblance to Scarlett Johansson. Helena Bonham Carter is unrecognizable as Emily, and the supporting cast is fantastic. The best performances here come from Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, and Christopher Lee.
Danny Elfman's score doesn't explore much new territory compared to other Tim Burton scores, but the Elfman style has become as much a part of the Burton experience as anything else. For what it's worth, Elfman's score is a touch more elegant than his work for other Burton films, likely due to the time period. Elfman also contributed four songs to the picture, all of which are pleasant, but unmemorable.
Entertaining to the last minute, and featuring enchanting animation, Corpse Bride is unabashedly Burton, and I wouldn't want it any other way. It is a bit short at only 77 minutes, and as a result, it leaves one wanting more. But needless to say, this is a good problem to have.