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Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005 04:09 am

Exquisite Corpse

This Bride is a looker, but she's hard to love

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Based on a European folktale, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride gets off to a rousing start as director Burton and co-director Mike Johnson’s camera bobs and floats through the gray village where the Van Dorts and Everglots live. There’s a great deal of scurrying about for the wedding of shy guy Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp) and wallflower Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). The Van Dorts (Paul Whitehouse and Tracey Ullman) see this union as a step up socially, not realizing that the Everglots (Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley) are broke.
 Nervous about the impending nuptials, Victor is dismissed from the ceremony to calm down. As he walks in the woods, he slips his beloved’s ring on what he believes is a tree branch but is actually the bony finger of a young woman who was killed on the way to her own wedding (Helena Bonham Carter). Now she’s eager to be Victor’s bride. What ensues is a journey to the land of the dead, where the corpse bride resides. It’s an eye-bending universe of rollicking carcasses that seem to be more alive than the living. That, of course, is the irony of the film: The living carry the weight of the world on their shoulders as the dead frolic without a care in the world. Naturally Victor is tempted to join this happy world. There’s really no suspense where this conflict is concerned, and we find ourselves, like Victor, enjoying the sights of the netherworld. In an age when most animated films are computer-based, it’s refreshing to see this more basic labor-intensive form, stop-motion animation, in the spotlight. Astute viewers will enjoy the technique, but, in the end, Bride ends up more a curiosity, a tip of the cap to the early days of the animated form instead of an engaging motion picture.

Also in theaters this week. . .

Cry Wolf [PG-13] A group of prep school pranksters create a fictitious killer to scare the student body, but when a young woman shows up missing — the wolf becomes all too real. Parkway Pointe

The Exorcism of Emily Rose [PG-13] Restless lawyer Erin Bruner takes on the church and the state when she chooses to represent a priest imprisoned for performing an exorcism. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East, Route 66 Drive-In

Flightplan [PG-13] Bereaved wife Kyle Pratt (Jodie Foster) boards a plane home from Berlin with daughter in tow, but when Pratt awakens her daughter is missing — and the crew isn’t convinced she ever boarded the plane. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

Just Like Heaven [PG-13]] There’s a ghost in David Abbott’s new apartment; a charming and beautiful ghost. When Abbott falls for his new house guest, an odd couple doth make. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Lord of War [R] A weapons dealer (Nick Cage) faces the consequences of his life choices and profession when he is being pursued by an Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke). Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East
Red Eye [PG-13] Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is held captive on a red-eye flight to Miami, and when Lisa’s captor threatens to kill her father unless she agrees to help kill a rich businessman, she has nowhere to go. ShowPlace East

Roll Bounce [PG-13] When roller skates ruled, X (Bow Wow) and company’s rink closed down forcing them to skate in a neighboring town and compete for bragging rights. ShowPlace West

The Skeleton Key [PG-13} A young caretaker (Kate Hudson) finds herself in the midst of voodoo and witchcraft as she unravels the mystery of what’s truly ailing her patient. White Oaks

Transporter 2 [PG-13] An action-packed film about ex Special Forces operative Frank Martin. Think lots of car chases. ShowPlace West

An Unfinished Life [PG-13] A single mother looks to her estranged stepfather for comfort and a roof, but she receives an unexpected return — forgiveness. Yes, it’s that cheesy. ShowPlace West
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