Review by Gordon Justesen
Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney,
Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee
Directors: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 77 minutes
Release Date: January 31, 2006
tragic tale of romance, passion, AND A MURDER MOST FOUL!”
Johnny Depp and Tim
Burton both had quite a busy year last year.
collaborators managed to make two movies which both were welcomed with big open
arms by their long time devoted fans, of which I am very much a part of. First
came the visually stunning adaptation of Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory, which featured a production design for the
history books and a brilliantly bizarre turn by Depp. Now comes the animated
feature, Corpse Bride, which has Depp
voicing the lead character alongside the same level of amazing, and rare,
stop-motion animation that Burton helped to enliven the screen over a decade ago
with The Nightmare Before Christmas.
It turns out that
the production of both films occurred simultaneously. In between shootings for
the massively-budgeted Charlie, Burton
was able to execute a brief production for this animated feature that was made
for a much lower budget, by comparison. The level of craft and artistry that
went into both films is simply amazing and undeniable.
Bride is a very intriguing,
incredibly funny and quite original piece of entertainment. It does plunge the
viewer into a world that is rarely visited in animated films. Actually, there
are two worlds depicted in the film; the world of the living and the world of
The story concerns
Victor Van Dort (voiced by Depp), a hapless lad who is being forced into an
“arranged” marriage to Victoria Everglot (voiced by Emily Watson), who
isn’t too excited about being forced into a marriage, either. The entire
ceremony is being fiercely put together by the parents of the groom and the
bride, both of whom have one desire; for the ceremony to go according to plan.
But then something
unexpected happens. Victor and Victoria meet by accident prior to the wedding
rehearsal and, much to Victor’s surprise, he finds himself a bit smitten with
the woman already. This seems to cause him to behave extremely nervous and mess
up on his wedding vows during the rehearsal.
After being ordered
to practice on his vows before the marriage, Victor does so in the woods nearby.
For once, he successfully executes the proper vows, and even practices using his
wedding ring by placing it on a twig. Only this twig is not a twig, but rather
the desiccated finger belonging to Emily, the Corpse Bride (voiced by Helena
Bonham Carter). Victor discovers this when she arises from underneath the
ground. Since a ring is on her finger, she believes Victor to be her husband.
What follows is a
pure visual spectacle, as Emily takes Victor to her home in the underworld,
filled with an assorted bunch of bizarre-looking characters that only Tim Burton
could deliver. Among them is a dwarf with a sword stuck through him, a
slithering worm with a Peter Lorre-ish voice, and Victor’s deceased dog who
now appears in a skeletal form.
The rest of the
story concerns Victor attempting to get back to the world of the living, and
back to Victoria, who believes has vanished on account of cold feet. At the same
time, he has to explain to Emily that the entire incident with the ring was a
misunderstanding, and that he is not in any way her husband. This causes her to
have some emotional fits as she simply can’t understand why Victor wants to
In a time when
computer animation seems to be the dominant force in the animated genre, it is
wildly refreshing to see such films as Corpse
Bride and Wallace & Gromit
emerge with a trend-bending approach. As much as I dig computer animated films,
it’s important to remember the alternate ways that have brought numerous
stories to life. As for Tim Burton, the stories he tells merit such a distinct
look, and Corpse Bride is the perfect
marriage of original animation and twisted storytelling.
This was actually
my first time experiencing a stop-motion animated film on DVD, and this transfer
by Warner is nothing short of stunning. The anamorphic picture is consistently
beautiful as the animation flourishes tremendously in a near three-dimension
quality presentation. The image quality is nothing but sharp and clear all the
way through, with some of the most vivid and bright array of colors to ever
emerge in a single presentation.
The 5.1 mix is
alive and blazin’. A Tim Burton movie always comes with an endless amount of
superb sound quality, and in this case, the surround sound qualities never die
and end up in the underworld. Everything from the lively Danny Elfman score to
the engaging music numbers to several bits of action are delivered in a fullest
form possible. Dialogue is delivered grandly, as well.
Warner has dug up
some nice extras from the grave. This coffin of bonuses includes many
documentaries, including “Inside
the Two Worlds”, “Danny Elfman Interprets The Two Worlds”, “The
Animators: The Breath Of Life”, “Tim Burton: Dark vs. Light”, “Voices
from the Underworld”, “Making Puppets Tick” and “The Voices Behind The
Voice”. Also featured are Preproduction Galleries, a Music Only Track and a