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Hollywood trio powers ‘Corpse Bride’

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tim Burton. Danny Elfman. Johnny Depp. By themselves, they are unique, entertaining facets of Hollywood. But when their considerable talents are combined into a single picture, the results are often magical.

“Edward Scissorhands” is considered to be a classic, and “Sleepy Hollow” is a solid, entertaining film. So when their collaboration was announced for “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride,” expectations were high.

Meant as a spiritual successor to “Nightmare Before Christmas,” the movie explores similar themes and moods. A principal theme found in both is that appearances are not everything, as some of the spookiest characters are also the friendliest.

The movie revolves around Victor Van Dort, voiced impressively by Depp. Victor is set to marry Victoria Everglot (voiced by Emily Watson) in an arranged marriage. Both of their families stand to profit from the union, and their future marriage appears to be going according to plan, despite the pair never having met.

But through Victor’s nervous bumbling, he is dismissed from the wedding rehearsal to learn his lines. Entering the woods to rehearse, he accidentally encounters the Corpse Bride.

Voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, the Corpse Bride is at first a creepy, suspicious character. She immediately pulls Victor into the land of the dead, a place where ghastly apparitions are a daily occurrence. Pursuing Victor relentlessly, she manages to lose various limbs and parts in the process, a trait that fails to endear her to him.

As the film progresses, Victor finds himself warming up to the cold bride. But wrinkles in the plot unfold when Victoria finds herself in a less-than-desirable position after her fiancé pulls a “Runaway Bride” less than 24 hours before her wedding.

Fun and entertaining, the film sports deeper characters than the aforementioned “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Each of the protagonists has an overall plan supported by realistic goals and dreams. Victor’s motivations never raise any questions, despite the absurd nature of his love triangle.

“Corpse Bride” also succeeds as a musical, supported by charming songs that should delight audiences, despite their ability to strike a dark note at times. “Remains of the Day” and “According to Plan” are a few of the musical highlights and are visually-pleasing spectacles to watch. A piano-duet performed in the latter part of the film between Victor and the Corpse Bride also stands out, despite the lack of any vocals. There is even a music-only track among the DVD’s special features for those interested in Burton’s choice of images and sounds.

There are a number of special features found on the disk, which expound on several facets of the film. They feature Tim Burton and the stars who provided the voices, describing the processes that were required in the completion of the film. However, none of the special features shed any new light, as the tricks to claymation have been chronicled already in many different venues. Minor details are revealed, such as the process of animating the Adam’s apple on Victor’s throat, but nothing that really adds to the depth of the film.

“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” is a fun, visually-entertaining movie. Running only 77 minutes, it stands on the short side when compared to standard Hollywood fare. Despite this hindrance, the film still manages to entertain and is another charming union of Burton, Depp and Elfman’s considerable talents.