‘Corpse Bride’ chokes, flatlines

Steve Schirra

Victor, voiced by Johnny Depp, lights his candle in Corpse Bride.

Credit: Ben Breier


Corpse Bride

Starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter

Directed by Tim Burton

Distributed by Warner Bros.

Rated PG for some scary images, action and brief mild language

Stater rating (out of four): **


If you loved Nightmare Before Christmas, you’ll love Corpse Bride.

That’s because they’re basically the same movie.

The third of Tim Burton’s stop-motion creations, Corpse Bride, delivers the stunning scenery and campiness expected of any of his films. Unfortunately, Bride is anything but unique.

A completely lame opening song informs us of the characters’ situation: The Everglot family’s vault is empty. Their daughter Victoria (Emily Watson) must marry before the family is forced to leave their lavish mansion for the poor house. The heads of the Everglot household, Maudeline and Finnis (Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney of Big Fish) don’t care whom she marries, just that she does it soon.

Enter the Van Dorts. Fish merchants Nell and William (Tracy Ullman and Paul Whitehouse) are looking forward to reaping the rewards of marrying into a “rich” family.

Their son, Victor (Johnny Depp) is weary about the ethics of an arranged marriage, and whether true love is possible when a union is decided by outside forces.

Through their awkward, whispered dialogue, we learn that there may be hope for Victor and Victoria’s love life.

But no love story is complete without the Burton twist: Victor kind of accidentally marries a dead corpse.

Parted from his bride, Victor finds himself lost on the set of Nightmare Before Christmas with his new Sally-esque Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter).

The rest of Bride chronicles Victor’s quest for true love – both living and dead – and the cast’s fascination for morbid, random sing-a-longs.

While the film may be visually appealing, it is lacking originality that would make it more memorable. Director Burton needs to stop using the same actors and crew in his films and try something new. Casting someone other than Depp for the lead would be a start.

Perhaps one of the movie’s saving graces is the wonderfully crafted ending, which makes the entire film somewhat worthwhile.

Be ready to be aesthetically amazed and intellectually buried six feet under.

Contact Forum editor Steve Schirra at [email protected].