Corpse Bride (2005) – Film Review

Tim Burton’s twisted story of a man accidently marrying a deceased bride could certainly be seen as too dark for an animated family adventure by some, but the film actually blends many of it’s dark scenes with plenty of heart and humour throughout. Making this stop-motion flick not quite one of the director’s best, but definitely a must watch for fans of the unique director.

When a shy groom (Victor Van Dort) practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman, she rises from her grave assuming he has married her. Before he knows it, ‘Victor’ soon finds himself in the land of dead, and now must find a way to return to the land of the living before he loses his still living wife forever.

Alongside the entertaining narrative, throughout the film there are various different musical sequences, which were surprisingly entertaining considering I’m usually not a huge fan of musical numbers in film. But I actually found many of the songs throughout the film actually added to the plot and gave the film another creative element which worked really well when combined with the brilliant original score by Danny Elfman.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter portray: ‘Victor’ and his accidental ‘Corpse Bride’, alongside the supporting cast of Emily Watson and Paul Whitehouse. Who are all pretty great, with the two leads in particular having pretty great chemistry with each other, which really added to some of the romantic scenes throughout run-time (especially when it comes to an animated film). The cast also features Richard E. Grant, who portrays the villous: ‘Barkis Bittern’ perfectly, coming off as very sly, rude and intelligent from start-to-finish.

The cinematography by Pete Kozachik is pretty effective considering his previous work is usually far from the realm of stop-motion animation, as although there is definitely room for improvement, the cinematography is interesting enough to keep the viewer engaged throughout the run-time.

Without a doubt, the original score by Danny Elfman is definitely one of the best elements of the film, as well as being one of my favourites for a Tim Burton flick. As while not quite on the level of the original: ‘Batman’ or ‘Edward Scissorhands’ for example, the entire soundtrack still perfectly captures the creepy tone of the film, as well as many of it’s more emotional moments, all adding to both an extremely memorable and beautiful score. Especially the track: ‘Main Titles’, which is my personal favourite.

The stop-motion animation throughout the film is simply outstanding, as each character’s unique design influences their movements, with many of the characters having very interesting and over-the-top designs which perfectly fit within the world of a Tim Burton story. The film also has a unexpectedly ranged colour palette, as in addition to the usual dark Burton-esk colours. The film surprisingly also uses a large range of bright greens, purples and reds in a few scenes, which all really help the film stand-out, and give a little more light to many of the miniature sets and various characters.

Initially thinking I would give the film a slightly lower rating, ‘Corpse Bride’ surprised me on a rewatch. As while I still expected the film to be entertaining, I didn’t expect to enjoy the film as much as I still did, but with the fantastic stop-motion animation, some great humour and a few emotional scenes. All topped with the unique Tim Burton style, I’d say the film is a pretty solid watch, as aside from the occasional cheesy joke or scene, ‘Corpse Bride’ is most certainly an 8/10 overall.

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