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PCR # 287  (Vol. 6, No. 38)  This edition is for the week of September 19--25, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Tim Burton's
Corpse Bride"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

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Warner Brothers     
Starring the voices of: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Albert Finney and Christopher Lee
Directed by: Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour and 16 mins

If you're curious as to why this film is called TIM BURTON'S "Corpse Bride," you only have to watch the opening credits. Burton's name appears no fewer then five times before the film gets going. Not that I'm complaining. Burton is truly one of the greatest visionary directors of his time. I can't think of anyone that spends so much energy in making sure the "look" of his films stand out. Whether it's the quirky "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" or the dark and brooding "Batman," Burton knows what he wants and he doesn't compromise.

The story of the Corpse Bride is very curious. Victor Van Dort (Depp) and Victoria Everglot (Watson) have never met. Yet, thanks to a little matchmaking by their prestige seeking parents, they are to be wed. Both sets of parents are counting on this marriage to assure their status in the upper crust of society, not knowing that neither have the proverbial pot. In spite of their meddling parents, the two manage to meet briefly and take a like to each other. During the wedding rehearsal, conducted by a very blustery Vicar (the always great Christopher Lee, enjoying his third wonderful part this year). After being scolded for not reciting his vows properly Victor runs out into the wind and snow and soon finds himself in the woods. As he's walking he tries to remember his vows. Soon he is reciting them like a champ, even going so far as to slip the wedding ring onto a branch. Sadly the branch turns out to be the skeletal hand of a young woman, long dead, who herself was murdered while waiting for her betrothed. Stating that she and Victor are now married, she makes her case to both the dead and living in the most spectacular ways.

Like "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Burton has constructed "Corpse Bride" as a tribute to the great stop motion animation films of the past. Burton even pays homage to the master animator himself when we see Victor playing a "Harryhausen" piano! Though there was some computer help on a few scenes, the majority of the film is skillfully done in the classic stop motion tradition. The script is witty, with lines like "I'm the head waiter" and "I'll keep an eye out for you" taking on an entirely different meaning in the world of the dead. The songs by long time collaborator Danny Elfman are well written and lively. The vocal talent is top notch, with Depp delivering a performance as moving as "Edward Scissorhands" fifteen years ago. Both Watson and Carter bring their characters to life, both figuratively and, in Carter's case, literally. The rest of the cast are equally good, with Finney and Lee standouts, obviously having fun with their roles.

With the next few months promising more "serious" films as award time rolls around, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" is one that doesn't take itself that seriously, which will be a treat for both kids and adults. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"  Three and a half stars

This week's movie review of "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.