The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005)
Director: Tim Burton

review by Jonathan McCalmont

I didn't really want to see this film. I was having dinner in a Chinese restaurant and in walk a sizeable contingent of my friends. "We're going to the cinema," they say "care to join us?" Obviously I said yes because, frankly I had nothing better to do and even a bad film can be mildly diverting. Note the use of the word 'can' because this film isn't a diversion... it's a fucking monstrosity.

The plot is comprised of two main plot strands. Heroin chic posho Victor is forced into an arranged marriage with a girl he's never met. He tries to escape and winds up married to a corpse and whisked off to the afterlife. Meanwhile, back on Earth, as Victor has gone missing, Victoria is promised to the man who murdered Victor's corpse bride. While in the afterlife, Victor realises for no apparent reason that he loves Victoria and gets all the dead to return to the world of the living, this happens just in time for Victoria's wedding to be stopped allowing victor and Victoria to get married and the corpse bride to gain eternal rest by taking revenge on her murderer.

This film fails on almost every conceivable level, but despite this it isn't a bad film. Drumline is a bad film; Bring It On 2 is a bad film. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is an insulting film. It's a film that single-handedly manages to set movie animation back 30 years, and manages to desecrate an alternative culture in the name of marketing.

The central problem with Corpse Bride is that it is badly written. The characters are dull and uninteresting at best and clichéd at worse, the jokes are identical to the kind of jokes you'd find in 1920s' cartoons (you know the kind... skeletons playing each other like xylophones), the music is dull and listless (despite being composed by Danny Elfman, he of the tall scientologist daughter from TV's Dharma & Greg), and the plot simply doesn't make sense.

Hands up who remembers the film Adaptation? In that film Charlie Kaufman tries to turn a factual book about the orchid trade into a film. Kaufman couldn't do it because in order to tell a story you need a plot. You need a beginning and middle and an end with a dramatic tension and some themes and twists. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride manages to lack all of these things. Victor is caught between two women with no reason for wanting to be with either. Rather than try and get away from both of them, he falls in love with one for no reason (when in fact he spends more time with and seems to get on better with the other one). He also tries to escape the afterlife despite the afterlife being nicer and nobody being really dead. If death is simply a change of address then struggling against the hideousness of non-being somehow manages to lose its heroic quality. So Victor's story is pushed forward by a love that exists for no reason and a fear of death that exists for no reason. Given no reason to root for one outcome over another, it's difficult to really care what happens to Victor. If there's no reason to care what happens to Victor, why should we pay to find out? A weak plot isn't in and of itself a problem but when hooked up to weak characters, dull music and weak jokes it's a disaster. It's also something of a throwback.

Besides being a poorly written film, Corpse Bride is also a deeply old-fashioned film. It used to be the case that when you went to see a cartoon in the cinema it meant Disney with its own brand of family values and mawkish sentimentality. Disney had been making films like this since WWII, and it is only within the last 20 years that they had begun to realise that moviegoers are more sophisticated than they used to be. So they started casting comedians as wisecracking sidekicks and generally remembering that families aren't just kids but adults too. Burton turns back the clock by completely forgetting everything that has been learnt about writing for animation. Corpse Bride is completely lacking in anything that might make it appeal to adults. There are no good jokes, cool writing or adult themes here. No wisecracking comic sidekicks, no references to other films, and no jokes that go over the heads of kids. There's just rubbish music and 'comedy' so weak and broad you could easily mistake it for some kind of wheezing 45- stone shut-in. Actually... that's not quite true, as the film's title suggests, it has the Tim Burton brand.

Tim Burton used to make cool slightly alternative films that were always slightly off-centre and outside of the mainstream despite their huge budgets. Burton traditionally had a vision that allowed him to stand outside the Hollywood machine despite being a part of it. Here we see Burton cashing in his chips, he's not making films any more, he's pumping out branded product. Take a dull and poorly written film and add a little touch of Goth and slightly kookily designed characters, and make it a love story that's just a little bit different and ooh... doesn't it look a bit like the infinitely better Nightmare Before Christmas? Burton has taken his genius and reduced it to the status of 'chicken tonight' - it's just something you can pour onto any old shit in order to make it palatable. They even go so far as to call the film not Corpse Bride but Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.

This is a poorly made and poorly written film, pumped out by a creator who clearly cares more about selling merchandising than saying anything new or different. It's another clanger from Burton. The question on everyone's lips is how long can he trade on the goodwill generated by Edward Scissorhands before people start to notice that he hasn't made a decent film this millennium? This is cynical filmmaking at its absolute nadir. I hope Burton's cock falls off.
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send it
W.H. Smith

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2005 Pigasus Press