Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Corpse Bride

Finally, a Tim Burton movie that acts like, well, a Tim Burton movie.

When I was in high school, Tim Burtonwas my favorite director. The freaky weirdness of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice went way beyond their original scripts. Then he made Batman and all was right with my world. With a blockbuster behind him and people loving his style he began to craft his masterpieces; Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and of course the film that 'Corpse Bride' will inevitably be compared to, the classic Nightmare Before Christmas.

So what happened? Well, first of all 'Nightmare before Christmas' and 'Ed Wood' didn't make money. Neither did Mars Attacks and that was fiendishly expensive. Those failures hurt Burton and he recoiled. We then got Sleepy Hollow which looked like a Tim Burton movie but was bogged down by a Scooby Doo plot. His 'Planet of the Apes' remake was so bad it's already out of print on dvd. And Big Fish just felt like a tv movie.

But now we get a dose of prime Burton. I missed 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' but there was no way I was missing 'Corpse Bride'. I'm glad I didn't. I got treated to 75 minutes of beautiful stark, awkward, bizarre characters that sometimes fight and sometimes sing. In other words, classic Burton.

But don't think this is a sequel to 'Nightmare'. Where that film was a blast of childlike wonder and enthusiasm all wrapped in everything an eight year old loves, this film is melancholy, complex and story driven. There are maybe three songs and they all sneak up on you. There's a lot more greys than blacks or whites in the production design. And it takes its time, letting us explore the characters through a look, a sigh or a piano duet. I also love the theme that the dead are the same people they were when they were alive. Take that, mindless zombie movies.

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