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"Corpse Bride"

Directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson.
Written by John August, Pamela Pettler and Caroline Thompson.
Starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson and Richard E. Grant.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  9/28/05


Much like my blah feelings about Tim Burton's other stop-motion animation film "The Nightmare Before Christmas", "Corpse Bride" is another film that certainly is whacked out but ultimately not very interesting...and this one is only about an hour long.

The vision of "Corpse Bride" and its fantastic setting is the best part about it, but after that most everything falls flat.  A young man named Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) is about to complete his arranged marriage to a dowry-less woman named Victoria (Emily Watson) when it hits him--whoa, he's scared out of his mind to be married, and he certainly needs another day or two to collect his thoughts and learn those crazy vows.  After taking a walk in the forest one night, he practices by going through the wedding motions and putting the ring of his intended on a harmless tree branch...only to realize that this branch is the brittle, decomposed ring finger of a murdered young beauty, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter).  Magically, the ring brings the Bride back to life, and Victor spends the rest of his time going from feelings of "Damn, this is really morbid!" to "Maybe I CAN spend the rest of my life with this cadaver!", to sometimes-funny effect.  Meanwhile, in the world of the living, Victoria tries to win back Victor from his new dead wife and to keep herself out of the clutches of a mysterious bachelor (Richard E. Grant), who is after her very-empty family dowry.

Clocking in at about 75 minutes, you're going to feel gypped if you drop $10 on this for a nighttime viewing; surprisingly, the film feels a bit too long even at 75 minutes, because it is a bit slow following the whirlwind first 20 minutes.  As a musical, the songs here seemed very uninspired; you know, I didn't really like "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut", but even I have to admit that the songs were funny.  Conversely, I loved "Chicago", and I loved it because the songs were so well placed and just so damned good...that same feeling is nowhere to be found in "Corpse Bride", and that's a mix of boring lyrics, un-singer singers (Depp and Bonham Carter seem misplaced in this regard; Depp is at the top of his game as an actor, but as a singer?) and songs that just kind of pop up, instead of drive any real storyline.  Part of that is that there really is no storyline; with a movie so short, there is only the primary plot of wondering if Victor will hang onto this stiff and live the rest of their lives together in the underworld.

My sister Cate and I saw this over the weekend and both of us came out of the theater thinking it was just okay, certainly nothing that you need to run out and see right away.  The look of it is cool, but not cool enough to plop down the cash on it.  And, the ending was just bad--the path that Burton & Co. choose to go is not the way I would have taken his already-strange creation, out of the weird and into the traditional storybook ending category.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09