Monday, September 19, 2005

Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride is a fun, cute little movie. Oddly enough, it is a musical, but it feels like it’s just a musical out of obligation. The songs are sporadic and infrequent, and except for the big number the skeletons do, most of the songs kind of just lie there. They pop up like the movie’s going, um, I guess I’m supposed to sing now? Only the skeleton song is notable, and even then I can barely remember how it goes.

Visually, it’s lovely, and there are some clever character designs. Outrageous caricatures brought to animated three-dimensional life. The story is thin and the movie is brief, but it seems about right for the storybook feel. And I did feel for the characters and wonder how the love triangle would be solved. It’s an impressive trick to make an audience think, maybe he should stay with the corpse… I don’t want him to break her heart… and she is pretty hot. The fact that her skeletal limbs fall off sometimes, that’s actually kind of cool. You could totally deal with that.

The rules of the story don’t make much sense. Why can the Corpse Bride rise up out of the ground one minute, and needs a spell to go to the living world the next? Is the land of the dead full of souls or corpses? If corpses, does that one dead character show up in the land of the dead before his body could plausibly have been buried? If souls, why all the decomposition? Where does Victor’s body go when he’s down there? And more, which I won’t say because it might spoil the plot. As far as this stuff goes, you just have to go with the flow and don’t sweat the details.


cyshas said...

Did you already see this? I thought it wasn't coming out until next weekend.

C said...

Is it better than nightmare before christmas? or should i just rewatch nightmare?

Kenny said...

From the Onion AV Club review:

"Bride lacks Nightmare's intensity, but also its manic highs and disappointing lows. Its characters, concept, and execution are all gently charming... All too often, Tim Burton's movies feel like they're covered in flop sweat, as if he's trying too hard and worrying too much. By contrast, Corpse Bride is a cool breeze across the brow."

I guess that makes me a bad reviewer to have to quote another review, but this sums it up nicely. The good parts aren't as good as the good parts of Nightmare (for instance, no songs will stick in your head the way "This is Halloween" does), but there is also nothing as boring as the bad parts of Nightmare. Also, it is nice that this one has some grounding in a "real world" reality as opposed to the arbitrariness of a Halloweentown or whateverthefuck. The animation is smoother than Nightmare, too, probably because of the way they animate the puppet faces (movable faces instead of interchangeable heads).

Kenny said...

It came out in select theaters in LA this week. They may have in NYC, too, I don't know.

e; said...

I think it's important to make clear that Corpse Bride is in "animated three-dimensional life" because, well, it's shot that way. It's stop motion puppet work, and that's what I think is the coolest thing about it. They shot 14 simultaneous sets for eighteen months and put the whole thing together on a Mac in Final Cut Pro.

John August was the guest for 466 last week and said that when he first got the script there was only one song in it. He thought it needed to be more of a musical and added more. Then Danny Elfman came and made them better.

I definitely agree, though... Don't worry too much about the rules. Just have fun. I definitely enjoyed it. -e;

Kenny said...

Really? It's stop-motion? I thought they were little robots!

But seriously, though. That seems like a silly thing to bring up--I would think most people would know that it's stop motion--but then again, there are probably a lot of people who think it's computer animated just because they can't fathom it being done any other way.

And actually, it is worth bringing up. Personally, I like Corpse Bride better than Nightmare, but then, I always found Nightmare underwhelming. But regardless, if you have any interest in stop-motion animation, then definitely see it--It's not like films like this are all that common, and it's worth encouraging the few creators who still bother with it.

e; said...

Follow up note after discussion in class yesterday... A lot of people in 466 didn't realize it was stop-motion until the discussion. If that's the reaction from USC students taking a cinema class, I'd have to believe the general public to be even less informed.

Maltin mentioned that he thought the stop-motion was almost too good -- that you didn't get a feel for the craft in the film because you couldn't see that it was being done. He suspected that perhaps it was due to the scale of everything... The puppet brought into class was maybe 18 inches tall. I don't know if I follow with "too good" as a criticism, but it's an interesting perspective. -e;