Netflix (transfer) review: CORPSE BRIDE (2005)

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These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

I have to admit, Tim Burton isn’t my favorite filmmaker. Don’t get me wrong, there’s work that he’s done that I do like. BATMAN (1989) and BIG FISH, and I want to see BIG EYES, but for the most part, SWEENEY TODD, ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010), CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, all over-rated or just bad. And before you scream at me, I have never seen EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, or BEETLEJUICE all the way through. Obviously, when CORPSE BRIDE came out, it barely hit my radar. But because I am always a fan of stop-motion animation, I was always curious. I think I tried watching it once, but didn’t stick to it. In any case, I was bored, browsing Netflix, and there it was and made time to watch it.

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter (SGT. STUBBY [2018], ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [2016], and the upcoming OCEAN’S 8 [2018]), Johnny Depp (SHERLOCK GNOMES [2018], MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017], FANTASTIC BEASTS [2016], BLACK MASS [2015], and upcoming films CITY OF LIGHTS [2018] and FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD [2018]), and Emily Watson (ON CHESIL BEACH [2018], KINGSMAN 2 [2017], EVEREST [2015], and the upcoming THE HAPPY PRINCE [2018])

Support: Christopher Lee (HUGO [2011], STAR WARS: CLONES [2002], and LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP [2001]), Michael Gough (ALICE IN WONDERLAND [2010], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and BATMAN [1989]), Joanna Lumley (FINDING YOUR FEET [2018] and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS [2016]), Richard E. Grant (THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017], THEIR FINEST [2017], LOGAN [2017], and upcoming films CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? [2018] and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS [2018]), and Paul Whitehouse (GHOST STORIES [2018], ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, and the upcoming THE KING OF THIEVES [2018])

Directors: Tim Burton (MISS PEREGRINE [2016], and the upcoming DUMBO [2019]) and Mike Johnson (stuff I’ve never heard of)
Writers: John August (BIG FISH [2003], TITAN A.E. [2000], and the upcoming ALADDIN [2019]), Caroline Thompson (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS [1993], HOMEWARD BOUND [1993], and the upcoming THE WOMEN OF MARWEN [2018]), and Pamela Pettler (9 [2009], MONSTER HOUSE [2006], and the upcoming THE ADDAMS FAMILY [2019])
Composer: Danny Elfman (FIFTY SHADES FREED [2018], TULIP FEVER [2017], GIRL ON THE TRAIN [2016], END OF THE TOUR [2015], and upcoming films DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT [2018] and THE GRINCH [2018])
Cinematographer: Pete Kozachik (CORALINE [2009])
Editors: Chris Lebenzon (GEOSTORM [2017], MISS PEREGRINE, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER [2015], and the upcoming DUMBO) and Jonathan Lucas (stuff I’ve never heard of)

This is my honest opinion of: CORPSE BRIDE

(SUMMARY)

Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) and Victoria (voiced by Emily Watson) are about to be forced into marrying one another, even though they’ve never met before, by their parents who need what the other family offers, be it monetary gain or social status. Neither Victor nor Victoria enjoy the idea, at least until they meet and have instant chemistry and decide that marrying each other wouldn’t be so bad. But Victor is far too nervous during the wedding rehearsal and impatience getting taken out on him causes the young man to run away in fear. Wandering into the woods outside of town, Victor is determined to get his rehearsal just right and practices by his lonesome. Or… what he thinks is by his lonesome. As he practices proposing to Victoria, he places the wedding ring on what he thinks is a tree branch sticking out from the ground instead turns out to be a bone from a human hand belonging to a corpse dressed in a wedding gown and comes alive. This is Emily (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter), a bride who was killed long ago and longed to be married. Thinking that Victor is her new husband, he is dragged into the underworld, shown Emily’s tragic back story, and tries to get back to Victoria.

(REVIEW)

It’s boring. Not bad, just… boring.

I think one of the biggest problems with the movie is the fact that it’s stop-motion. Let me explain. This takes place in the 1800’s with human people. The animation for them just seems incredibly awkward. Not their movements, no this stop-motion is some of the best that exists. Burton really knows how to make it look almost better than CG. But… this movie could have easily been shot live-action. Animation is all about big movements, eye-catching visuals, and that’s what NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS did so damn well. While the visuals in this movie are gorgeous… the protagonists are not. Their mouths barely move. The dialog is barely audible. It’s like Depp and Watson are mumbling their lines to match the stop-motion figures, only open their mouths to fit a straw in there. Burton went into this movie with an idea and got caught up in it instead of giving us a compelling story about these characters. Instead, the only character given any real depth is Emily, the undead bride.

Now we get to the truly Burton-esque stuff that he’s great for. The look of Emily is great, Carter’s voice acting is spot on and is given material to work with to make this character interesting and sympathetic, even funny. Once she drags Victor into the underworld, we are thrust into some of the most entertaining stop-motion around. The musical numbers aren’t memorable, but the visuals just pop and still stick with me. Couldn’t utter a single stanza of the songs being sung, but I know what they were talking about at least and that says a lot about the animation itself… but there’s an argument to be said that maybe the musicals weren’t necessary since the visuals carry the weight of the storytelling.

But as much as I want to praise how the underworld looks, and maybe half the movie, honestly, how many of us care about the entirety of a movie when only half of it is amazing? If the world of the living was even remotely as visually appealing to look at, then this movie would at least be placed in the “very good” column, as opposed to just “okay.”

I think that’s my major problem with the movie. It’s almost too simple, if that makes any sense. I mean, look at NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, or SHAUN THE SHEEP, they all have simple stories, but they’re big in scale. In NIGHTMARE, Jack leaves Halloweentown, happens across Christmastown, and decides that he wants this holiday for himself. He then enters the real world, causes all sorts of mayhem and chaos, then Oogie Boogie comes along and causes problems while Jack is out of the picture, there’s just so much that goes on. SHAUN doesn’t have a line in the movie, and what makes it so enjoyable is that the story is told through the expressions and emotions exhibited by the characters. They leave the modest life of the farm and enter the big city where a ruthless animal control dude mercilessly hunts the sheep down while they’re looking for their farmer who has amnesia. These are big stakes and the emotional payoff is well worth it. But CORPSE BRIDE…?

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

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Victor’s a bumbling nitwit, runs away when threatened, can’t be honest during a misunderstanding… dumps his previous fiance for this undead one, both of whom he’s known as long as a Disney film allows its romantic partners, it’s a borderline soap opera.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

I saw the twists coming a mile away, the drama is poorly acted out, with the exception of Emily, the protagonists Victor and Victoria are boring or unlikable, the stakes are lazily raised, but the stop-motion, Carter’s voice acting, and the underworld visuals in general saves this mediocre movie into being… passable. This is certainly a better film than some of Burton’s most recent works that I’ve seen, but man this was a missed opportunity.

My honest rating for CORPSE BRIDE: a weak 3/5

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4 Replies to “Netflix (transfer) review: CORPSE BRIDE (2005)”

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