Musicals always make me yawn and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street did not change that. However, that statement doesn’t sum up this review or the quality of the movie.
Sweeney Todd was directed by Mr. Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sacha Baron Cohen; to name but a few. The story follows Benjamin Barker, now known as Sweeney Todd, coming back to London after having spent years in prison thanks to a judge that wanted to steal his wife. He returns for revenge.
As a theatre experience I found the movie to drag just a bit, thanks to the singing. Some of the lyrics were good and it had its moments, but overall: I’m still not a fan of musicals. Johnny Depp’s voice would work for a rock band and in the moments when he picks up his tone and belts out or yells it is chillingly great. Helena Bonham Carter cannot sing, though I guess for the overall Burton look it was smarter for the director to cast his wife as opposed to say Queen Latifah. The rest of the cast: nothing stood out spectacular to me aside from a young boy with a grand voice and Sacha Baron Cohen fans will cheer for his silly moments.
The acting between the singing is okay, none of the performances are stand out in terms of attention getting, except for when Johnny Depp really gets into the madness. His gloomy disposition through most of the film doesn’t help quicken the liveliness of the entertainment.
Tim Burton has made another gothic masterpiece in visual terms. The first portion of the film was way too dark, but as it proceeds there are some very cool shots. However, once again toss in music and this reviewer yawns. (don’t worry I never fell asleep, and by the end I was wide awake; read on.)
The blood flows in this film for sure. Once Todd gets into throat cutting the red fluids spray out, the victims gargle into their deaths, and the corpses pile up and then get butchered. The climatic series of events for the ending really picks up with even more blood and gore and horror fans do get my full recommendation to check this movie out.
The story leaves the main revenge aspect and the villain a bit too underdeveloped for my liking, with the music not conveying as much passion and emotion as one would think singing should when compared to spoken dialog. However, the last 10-15-20 minutes of the movie perked me back up and it got really, really good. If you are not familiar with the story of Sweeney Todd then I say rush out and see this in the theatre because certain aspects of it will be new to you. However if you are a little too familiar with the subject matter, as I was, then really you won’t be missing out by waiting for DVD. Naturally though I suspect the legions of Johnny Depp fans aren’t going to want to pass up another chance to see him larger than life on the big screen.
Sweeney Todd ends up getting a thumbs up from me thanks to some great moments of dark humor, Johnny Depp bringing some dark bitterness and cursing at just the right musical moments, the spraying blood, and most of all the demented spiral into madness that is the shocking ending.