(2005) dir. Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
I’ve been a fan of Tim Burton’s design style since I first became aware of him from his 1988 film Beetle Juice. I recall seeing some of his design illustrations for that film in a magazine and really liking his whole aesthetic. When The Nightmare Before Christmas came out in 1993, featuring his first foray into feature animation, I was surprised that he didn’t get involved in directing the film. But here, in Corpse Bride he returns, in part I suppose, directorially behind an animated film.
Burton’s visual aesthetic has always been his strongest point. As well, I think that his sense of humor has kept him largely enjoyable through his likable but flawed filmography.
But here, this film feels, to me, like all aesthetic and the rest of it is really almost a paint-by-numbers effort. The film’s greatest charm arises when the scenery moves to the land of the dead. It’s not an incredible step away from Halloweentown from Nightmare, really. And as much verve as composer Danny Elfman can bring can hardly mask how undistinguished his scores and songs are from one another. There is a veneer of design and visual pleasure here, but that doesn’t sustain itself for long.
Ultimately, this is a highly mediocre work, which is a shame, because it looks neat.