Thursday, October 06, 2005

Is as useful as cupping a corpse

I have never outgrown my interest in animation. If I can I try to watch all cartoon films shown. The only cartoons I stay away from are the uber-saccharin ones. They have never been my cup of tea. No Care Bears and no Care Bear Stares for me, no thank you.

Last night, I found myself queuing to get a ticket for Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. The film ticket cost me around ninety-nine pesos, a sign that the movie houses will not extend the film’s commercial run. It would be probably lucky if it goes beyond Sunday.

Tim Burton is one director fond of using stop motion animation. I believe his best work in this field of animation was his film A Nightmare Before Christmas.

The present movie does not stray away from the previous work animation of Burton. The setting is still Gothic with a thin overlay of the operatic. Actually it reminds me of a set from any of the films from Hammer, except that this was in cartoon version. The hero of this movie is a rake thin groom who got himself in a pickle by accidentally marrying the corpse bride. Most of Tim Burton’s heroes are rake thin anti-heroes cut from the mold of most characters by Vincent Price, although with a less than sinister bent. Burton did use Price in his movie Edward Scissorhands as the creator of Edward, who was played by Johnny Depp (the stellar star of what is increasingly becoming the Tim Burton’s acting troupe, which include Helena Bonham Carter and Christopher Lee). Depp was in Edward Scissor Hands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, and played Willy Wonka in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

Burton likes his horror icons, you have to give credit to the guy. If Tarantino is well-versed in Asian films and films from the 1970s Burton is probably the lore-master of horror movies from the 1930s to the present. He has in a way treated gently and well maybe venerated a lot of the old actors from Roger Corman’s and Hammer Films production. People like Vincent Price and Christopher Lee. If Peter Lorre and Peter Cushing were alive he probably would have made films with them as well.

I like nearly all of Tim Burton’s movie, with the exception of his take on the Charlton Heston classic Planet of the Apes.

Unfortunately, the movie does pales before Burton’s other similar-veined enterprise, the film A Nightmare Before Christmas. The story of the Corpse Bride was predictable; one could see where the story would go ten minutes into the film and the film’s music was weak; it tended to be repetitive, established no character and ultimately boring – clearly the touch of Danny Elfman was needed in this picture. There were nice moments in the film, I personally like the use of a Peter Lorre voice for the worm character and the use of Christopher Lee’s stentorian voice to that of the Preacher/Priest in the story, the role reversal for Lee, who is known for playing Count Dracula in the Hammer Horror films, was an utter delight. And visually of course it was flawless. Plus, the homage with the Harryhausen piano was nice. Ultimately though, the film’s lack of panache and theatrics did it in and became as animated as the first word in its title.

It is a technically competent made film handicapped with an ultra-mundane storyline and plot. An interesting look-see for animation fans but not much for anyone else.

Full Cast and Crew for
Corpse Bride (2005)

Directed by
Tim Burton
Mike Johnson

Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
John August, Pamela Pettler & Caroline Thompson


Johnny Depp .... Victor Van Dort
Helena Bonham Carter .... Corpse Bride
Emily Watson .... Victoria Everglot
Tracey Ullman .... Nell Van Dort/Hildegarde
Paul Whitehouse .... William Van Dort/Mayhew/Paul The Head Waiter
Joanna Lumley .... Maudeline Everglot
Albert Finney .... Finnis Everglot
Richard E. Grant .... Barkis Bittern
Christopher Lee .... Pastor Galswells
Michael Gough .... Elder Gutknecht
Jane Horrocks .... Black Widow Spider/Mrs. Plum
Enn Reitel .... Maggot/Town Crier
Deep Roy .... General Bonesapart
Danny Elfman .... Bonejangles
Stephen Ballantyne .... Emil
Lisa Kay .... Solemn Village Boy


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