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April 19, 2007
The Corpse Bride Blu-Ray - Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
17/11/20058/2/2007Warner BrothersTim Burton
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1DD5.1 640kbpsPGJohnny Depp

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Victor and his bride Victoria.
Set in a 19th century European village, this stop-motion animated feature follows the story of Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp), a young man who is whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter), while his real bride, Victoria (Emily Watson), waits bereft in the land of the living. Though life in the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colorful than his strict Victorian upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world, or the next, that can keep him away from his one true love. It's a tale of optimism, romance and a very lively afterlife, told in classic Tim Burton style (although the movie was also co-directed by Mike Johnson).

To be honest, when this movie started I was very concerned I wouldn't like it. As the opening song, According to Plan, is being sung by the parents of the soon-to-be-wed I wasn't overly impressed. But that was one of the few low points in the movie - as soon as Victor and Victoria meet around a piano the movie picks up and the charm increases exponentially. By the time the hero meets the Corpse Bride you'll be hooked. By the end, you'll love this movie.

Tim Burton is a genius and when left to his own devices (unlike the terrible Planet of the Apes where the studio took control of the movie and destroyed it) he can craft entertaining movies like few other directors. The way in which he has crafted the world in The Corpse Bride, and manages to generate even the smallest detail and movement in the characters is sensational. Consider this; The Corpse Bride took 55 weeks to shoot, with 109,440 individual photographs taken to create the movie. Now that's a considerable effort!

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The Corpse Bride looks stunning.
This is one of the first movies that fills our widescreen TV's with the video encoded at 1.85:1. Using the VC-1 video codec at 1080p it's fair to say that this is certianly the best video presentation we've seen on Blu-Ray to date. Despite the fact that the movie is on a single layer 25GB disc the short runtime of only 77 minutes ensures that the movie isn't overly compressed. Sure, it's an animated movie so you won't have realistic flesh tones or glorious scenic views, but what is here is stunning. Much of the movie is extreemly dark and yet there are no artifacts present.

Actually much of the movie is very muted in tone. The living world is actually quite sterile and dull (which is deliberate - not a criticism) while the dead world is vibrant with some great colours and lifelike characters.

Audio on The Corpse Bride is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps (compared to 384kbps on the DVD release). There's plenty of dialogue in the movie and for the most part it comes across extremely clear - Christopher Lee is wonderful yet again with a deep booming voice. In fact all the voice cast has done a superb job. Danny Elfman (who has worked on movies such as Spiderman 1 & 2, Batman and The Simpsons) has created a wonderful music score, with Victor's them, which is first played on the piano a true standout. Danny Elfman also sang the in a couple of the songs in the movie. There's a solid use of surround sound in some places while the subwoofer/bass is used to good, but not overwhelming, effect.

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The dead are full of colour, and life!
Overall I was a bit underwhelmed with the extras on this disc. There are a series of short clips, and a rather delightful isolated music score but it was a massive production taking years and I would have loved to see the extras with a lot more details. All the extras are in Standard Definition MPEG-2 with 192kbps sound. Still, this is much better then a bare bones movie release (get it!) and what's here is interesting enough.

Isolated Music Score::

    Without a doubt this is the highlight of the extras as you can heard the brilliant music from the movie, including Danny Elfman's wonderful score. Watching the movie with just the music and no sound effects or speech emphasises just how much emotion is added to a movie by the music alone.

Inside the Two Worlds (4:03):

    In this short feature various cast and crew talk about the differences between the living and dead worlds.

Danny Elfman Interprets the Two Worlds (4:55):

    Music composer talks about the themes between each of the two worlds.

The Animators: The Breath of Life (6:38):

    An all-to-short feature about what it takes to animate and bring all the characters to life, including the painstaking work of moving each character a tiny fraction to create the movie from still images.

Tim Burton: Dark vs. Light (3:39):

    A very short featurette focusing on Tim Burton with comments from many of the cast regarding his direction and input into the movie.

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The dog is pretty funny.

Voices of the Underworld (5:58):

    Tim Burton and others discuss the voice actors used in the movie with some behind the scenes of the voice acting.

Making Puppets Tick (6:32):

    A quite interesting look at how much effort it takes to put the puppets together and make them movable for the animators.

The Voices Behind the Voice (7:35):

    A pretty cool feature in which two windows are presented - one shows the final movie with voiceovers while the second window shows many of the actors doing the voicework in the studio.

Gallery (13:27):

    Not a gallery of images as expected, but rather a lengthy video showing a series of animation tests for many of the characters that appear in the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (1:50):

    The theatrical trailer for the movie.

I went into this movie with very little knowledge of the storyline, but as a fan of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas I was keen to check it out. While the movie isn't quite up to the standards set by Tim Burton's previous, and now classic, stop-motion movie, it is still a charming adventure from start to end. What can't be faulted is the superb video and audio presentation - quite possibly the best we've seen on the Blu-Ray format to date. It's sad to think that stop motion animation is a dying art form, but this movie shows that great things can still come from the technique.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Warner Brothers Ent. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.