Directed by Tim Burton, starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Albert Finney, Joanna Lumley, Tracey Ullmann and Paul Whitehouse.
Tim Burton has kept fans waiting 12 years for another big screen foray into the (under)world of animation. 1993's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' spawned its own mini industry, probably gave young Goths more fashion ideas than was really necessary and will be a spooky seasonal fixture for years to come. So 'Corpse Bride' had its work cut-out and it's perhaps somewhat unsurprising that Burton's latest comes off second best.
Shot at the same time as his recent 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', 'Corpse Bride' finds Burton's longtime screen collaborator Johnny Depp voicing Victor, the accident prone son of nouveau riche fishmongers William and Nell Van Dort (Whitehouse and Ullmann). Victor is due to marry Victoria Everglot (Watson), a woman who he's never actually met but whose wealthy background is very important for his own parents.
What the fishmonger and his wife don't realise is that Victoria's parents Finnis and Maudeline (Finney and Lumley) are actually penniless. But that's just the start of the pre-nuptial drama: on the night before the wedding Victor disappears and somehow finds himself betrothed to the Corpse Bride (Bonham Carter), a love-spurned zombie who won't take 'I don't' for an answer.
From the outset, it's easy to see the love and care which went into Burton's latest. With its characters all stick legs and spade faces, it looks fantastic; there's great attention to detail (eg a piano named after stop-motion animation legend Ray Harryhausen) and even those who don't like musicals will find themselves laughing at the ghoul-led singalongs - if Tom Waits made a film it would look and sound like this.
So, with all those pieces in place and the all-star cast only to happy to play up, why is 'Corpse Bride' something of a disappointment? One reason: it's too short. With its content pitched more at adults than children, at just 77 minutes 'Corpse Bride' doesn't represent good night out value and there's no way a man with an imagination as wild and vivid as Burton couldn't have found another half-hour to fill out the story.
Perhaps the cinema release will really be just be the warm-up for a lengthy afterlife on DVD, but even though it's a little disappointing, 'Corpse Bride's charms are undeniable. Don't be too surprised if it ends up on Broadway.