How unexpected and lucky we all were to get two Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaborations in three months (Author's Note, 2017: My God, 2005 was a different place). And unlike in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Depp is really on fire in Corpse Bride, pretty impressive considering that he's nothing but a voice.

All of the voices are actually great, which surprised me, as I usually find the celebrity-voices-in-animated-movies trend to be unspeakably wrong-minded, and I think that it has produced some absolute drek. But such actors as Emily Watson, Helena Bonham Carter and Albert Finney are here because they are just that - actors - and not because you can put their name over the title. Also, some of them are sleeping with Tim Burton. For shame, Mr. Finney.

The star of the movie, though, is obviously not any of the above, but rather the design. And it is remarkable. It's Burton-Gothic to the point where anything more would lapse into self-parody, but it works. Every line of every character and building is elongated to the point where it seems like structures should break, characters should topple over. Imagine Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, only this time everyone looks that way. It's stylized to the point of no return, but if you liked the look of that earlier film, or the more earnestly gloomy Burton features, you will be knocked out here.

The story, such as it is, is one of those "fairy tales for adults" that people talk about, but it's cute and appealing, even if it has little to do besides shuttle us from one vignette to another. Considering the barely-there running time (76 minutes with credits), that there is any character development at all is a credit to the three screenwriters and the impeccable voice cast.

It seems odd to recommend a film that seems so content to rest solely on the surreality of its imagery, but there it is. I adored the way this film looked, and there was enough plot to keep me watching. It's the best Burton film in years, and some of the very best stop-motion animation that I think I've ever seen. A good way to start the Halloween season early.