I was far too excited for this movie’s release. I even traveled to New York City to catch it before it opened nationwide. I anticipated a new movie to add to my favorites list. After all, I loved The Nightmare Before Christmas. Despite the teenage goth scene adopting it as its own, there are some of us who literally grew up with that movie. The music, the characters, the magic of it all….Nightmare was an instant classic. I had expected to find that same magic in Corpse Bride, but I was disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good. It’s definitely worth going to see in the theaters, but when you look at it in comparison to its predecessor, there’s no contest. Where Nightmare had characters with depth, a bad guy to truly be frightened of, and a story with heart, Corpse Bride was lacking. The characters were decent, but not especially endearing or compelling. The villain was only marginally creepy, with a threatening history. The story, although kinda cute, was rather weak. Also, I should point out that the title has the word “corpse” in it. I don’t know many ten-year-olds that know what corpse means. I think this movie was more geared towards the goth kids that will buy the dolls and the posters and t-shirts at Hot Topic than the kids who would make this their own Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m not so sure I would have enjoyed this movie as a ten-year-old, and I’m not quite sure what to think about it now. I want to love it, but it just didn’t capture me like Nightmare did.
I know I’ll have my critics out there who will say I should review the movie as it stands alone, not in comparison to Tim Burton’s previous work. I’ll say simply this in my defense: every commerical and theatrical preview heralded this as “From the man who brought you The Nightmare Before Christmas…” I equate this with J.K. Rowling writing a bad novel after the Harry Potter series is over. We’ve come to expect greatness from Burton, and while this movie was entertaining and at least worth the price of the movie ticket, it wasn’t of his usual calliber.
I will say that the film score was beautifully written by Danny Elfman, as expected. The aesthetic appearance of the film was visually amazing, also as expected. Knowing the time and effort put into the stop-motion filming is incredible. The characters’ visual appearances were perfectly formed. Victor even resembles Johnny Depp, who provided the voice. Victoria is a perfect little porcelain doll of an image, perfect for her character. And the corpse bride herself was just the right mix of subtle cartoon sexuality and comedic gore (think Jessica Rabbitt, but dead, pale, and with some bones showing).
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