"Corpse Bride" is probably one of Tim Burton's most unique films. Not just because the film itself has a very unique story, animation, and characters, but because it is the first full length animated film Tim Burton actually directed (he only produced "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach"), the first film he received an Oscar nomination for, and the only one of his stop motion movies not to be released by Disney, but instead was released Warner Brothers. The film was also produced by Laika Entertainment, who later went on to do other stop motion movies like "Coraline", "Paranorman" and "Kubo and the Two Strings". With both the creative forces from Burton and Laika, it leads us to a film with a very original and emotional story, some colorful animation, and some pretty likable characters.
In a Victorian city, the son of rich fish merchants named Victor (Johnny Depp) and the daughter of snobby poor aristocrats named Victoria (Emily Watson) have been arranged to be married by their parents in hopes that the wealth of merchants can restore the wealth of the aristocrats. However, Victor is unable to remember his wedding vows and tries practicing them in the woods nearby, unaware that the tree root he places his wedding ring on is rather the finger of the Corpse Bride named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) whom he by accident engages to. He is then transported into the Land of the Dead where he is told about Emily's tragic backstory which I shall not spoil and it's up to him to return to the world of the living and set things right.
It was very obvious that Burton (along with Depp) were clearly putting their passion and energy into this film rather than the disastrous remake of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" which came out the same year. The film has a very creative story that feels like a fairy tale being retold despite the film rather being original. I also am astonished that a film with a story as crazy as this was able to work well in the first place. The animation is also great. It certainly looks different from Burton's previous films and I like it because it's able to establish itself as its own product rather than riding the reigns of the previous movies. The idea of making the Victorian city more downbeat, grey and dull while making the world of the dead bright, colorful and upbeat is especially clever. I also found myself getting really emotionally connected to the characters. The relationship that Victor has between both Emily and Victoria are well established and pretty believable. The characters of the dead are also a lot of fun. I really enjoyed how they looked and some of the gags that they came up with like the skeletons taking off their heads and putting them on the skeleton right next to them. As far as problems go, the villain is a little bland. While his connection he has to the plot is really well written, his personality was very boring and he really didn't stand out compared to Oogie Boogie from "Nightmare" and Aunt Sponge and Spiker from "James and the Giant Peach". I also thought Danny Elfman's songs, while well written and fun, were a little forgettable. It's a shame too as the songs from "Nightmare" were my favorite part. However, I do think that "Remains of the Day" was probably the song I remember the most due to how colorful and upbeat it was.
"Corpse Bride" may not be on par with "The Nightmare Before Christmas", but as a film in general, the creative original story, the colorful animation, and some pretty likable characters. It could have been as good as "Nightmare" had it had a few more fixes, but I thought it was pretty impressive for what they delivered.