I wasn’t a big fan of Tim Burton’s previous animation, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The production was terrific, but I thought the story was weak and the music was not memorable. In fact, Burton’s movies are generally big hits or big flops with me. Hated Mars Attacks! and Beetlejuice, didn’t like Sleepy Hollow and Big Fish, didn’t even bother to see the remake of Planet of the Apes. But I loved Ed Wood and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Go figure. He takes chances, and they either appeal to me or they don’t.
This is a great one. The story is short, focused, and original. The characters are wonderfully bizarre. There are no Shrek-like modern references, which would have been out of place here; he plays it straight, for real feeling. It would have been easy to make the corpse bride into a bad person, but she is not. The film is bursting with imagination and I highly recommend it.
Technical note: I knew Burton was a big fan of stop-motion, but I thought he had caved in and done this one with CGI. He didn’t! It’s all done with little puppets! This is an incredibly tedious process when done on this level and with this attention to detail. It was made by Laika Studios in Portland, Oregon, which was the old Will Vinton operation, now owned by Phil Knight. Nice detail: when Victor sits down to play the piano (with his fingers actually hitting the right notes!) the brand name on the piano is Harryhausen, the patron saint of stop-motion.