The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Corpse Bride

This is not a sequel to Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s the same movie, but with a few details slightly altered. Coming in at a mere 77 minutes, it still feels drawn out and draggy. The characters are the same kinds of tall spindly people and skeletons we saw in “Nightmare.” The Danny Elfman music follows his usual pattern, but is not as catchy or engaging as usual. There isn’t a memorable or hummable tune in the lot.

The story line is all superficial conflict points that turn out not to matter and characters who are asserted to have strongly held views that they throw away when the plot needs some wrapping up. A serious disappointment from almost every possible angle. Oh yes... the cute animal sidekick in this one (a loathsome Disney animated film convention) is a maggot that looks like a worm with big puffy purple lips and an exaggerated Peter Lorre voice. A Peter Lorre voice? That was their big innovative stylistic decision?

If you really need a plot summary to decide whether to rent this... A young man has been betrothed in an arranged marriage for financial/social convenience to a woman he has never seen. Turns out he likes her. Through a convoluted plot contrivance, he accidentally marries a deceased bride who has been pining for her lover. He is ferried down to the underworld, where everyone drinks and sings. He tries to come back to his intended. Uninteresting plot complications ensue. A not very villainous bad guy emerges. All the lovers and families tend to be ambivalent or somewhat unconcerned about who marries whom. Everything is resolved and there is a very pretty final shot with a magical transformation that comes out of nowhere and has no foundation in the internal logic of the universe Burton has created. Burton proves that stop motion animation need not be as fun or as witty as in the Wallace and Gromit movie.


SPOILER QUESTIONS FOLLOW… STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE!!!!
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1) How does the corpse bride know Victor’s dog so that she can present him with the perfect gift?

2) Barkis is menacingly pulled off behind a closed door by the enraged denizens of the underworld at the end. They brandish knives and malevolent expressions promising he will get what’s coming to him. What are they going to do to him? We have seen that the dead people don’t mind gaping holes in their decomposing bodies, decapitation, maggots living in them, limbs falling off and being easily snapped back in place, swords stuck through their torsos… How do you threaten somebody with a knife in that kind of universe?

3) The Corpse Bride is “released” from her longing at the end of the movie and turns into a swarm of butterflies? Does this happen to many of the corpses? What are the criteria for such a transformation? Why does everyone else seem to just decompose away to a skeletal state?

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