I just got back from seeing the Corpse Bride. I admit, I'm a huge sucker for stop-mo animation. Ever since I was a wee nip of a lad I've been captivated by the wonder of bringing a very real object to life. Drawings are ethereal, they capture an idea. CG is a mathematical construct inside a world of silicon. But stop-motion is the one animation medium that actually uses real things. Things you can pick up, hold, turn around, move, look at- play with. There's something magical about that and I hope the art form never becomes so specialized that we lose out on seeing wonderful stop-motion animation on the big screen.
Overall as a film the Corpse Bride was good fun. It took a bit to get rolling and at times in the beginning it felt like it was trying a bit too hard to be the second coming of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Once they settled down and got that out of their system, though, the film really started to take off. The second act is where many animated films shipwreck themselves. *cough* Robots*cough*. But the CB had one of the best second acts in an animated film that I've seen in a long while. It just keeps drawing you in, and you wonder how in the world this thing is going to resolve itself. By the time we hit the relatively brief third act you're in for good. There were some truly wonderfully animated performances. The old skeleton elder's performances were just flat out amazing. Not in terms of technical or flaboyant showmanship, but in terms of bringing such warmth and life out of such a simplistic design. With a kind of restrained simple elegance the animators managed to capture such fantastic gestures, movements and expressions with that character. Good grief they managed to get clear, precise and subtle expressions out of a puppet whose only moveable part in the face was his jaw!!!!
Check out this image of the puppet (from a G4 TV interview with the co-director).
The simplest puppet in the film had some of the most exquisite acting. I was just blown away with how much they could get a unique character across with such a limited puppet. On twos. With no undo button. Huge kudos to the crew that worked on that character. You are my new heros, I am not worthy.... Much of the hype has been on the technology in the faces of the hero puppets Victor and such (and that stuff is groovy cool, no doubt) but I was enthralled with the performances from the simplest puppets. There we see the power of what great animation can accomplish, the power to give life to something so seemingly incapable of it. Makes me want to go and simplify everything I'm working on just to boil it all down to that core element of great performance.
So yeah, definitely go see the Corpse Bride. It's not a perfect film, but it's a fun ride and certainly well worth the time. And if you're able you simply owe it to yourself to see in in DLP. Mmmm. DLP.