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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Posted: December 6, 2007 at 9:56 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp re-team for their 6th film together, and is my favorite Burton film since Big Fish, and is probably right there with Big Fish for his second best film behind Ed Wood.
The film is an adaptation of the Broadway show of the same name and is a full blown musical, so you idiots that won’t give a movie a shot just because there is singing, just go ahead and save yourself the time of reading any further. (I find it funny that a lot of people that grew up on and loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, say they can’t even watch musicals or grown at the mention of one.)
The story goes like this, Sweeney Todd(Depp) roles into London some years after being arrested and thrown out by a conniving Judge who wants to steal Todd’s, then Benjamin Barker, wife. He returns brooding on revenge and seeks to hunt down the man who took his life away. He returns to his past barber shop and home above Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pie Shop where Lovett(the always great Helena Bonham Carter) is still cooking “The Worst Pies in London’ and tells him that his wife is gone.
One of Todd’s shipmates is a teenage boy named Anthony Hope (Jamie Bower) and he has the anti-emotions to Todd about returning to London. He stumbles upon the rich district to find a beautiful girl perched in a window, Johanna (Jayne Wisener), singing about being trapped. We quickly find she is on lock down under the control of, Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who put Barker/Todd away, and his accomplice Beadle (Timothy Spall). The two kids sing a love song to each other and Hope gets a warning from Turpin to stay away from Johanna.
The movie sets up the main players with the first few songs and is a slow build up, but isn’t at all boring, and really gets going with the appearance of Sacha Baron Cohen as Pirelli a competitor Barber. Soon after Pirelli’s arrival Todd’s blood lust begins to boil over beyond containment and boy does the blood flow. I won’t go any further into the plot, but be warned; there will be buckets of blood by the end of the film.
As for the songs, singing, and acting Depp is great as usual and makes the most out of a pretty one dimensional character and is a fairly good singer as well. Carter is fantastic as Mrs. Lovett and steals a lot of the scenes she is in. She is also the best singer of the bunch and has the best, or is at least involved in, of the songs. All of the young actors have great voices with Wisener and Bower showing off their skill. I will give special mention to Ed Sanders who is the youngest of all the actors and is great as the assistant to Pirelli and has a wonderful singing voice. Cohen is hilarious as usual as the Italian barber, and does a good job singing as well.
The movie looks great, the CGI London backdrops might rub some people the wrong way, but I think the look is of Burton‘s intention. I’ve already mentioned the grisliness and the gore and the movie is not for the squeamish, but you should still bare it if you are at all interested in the movie. There isn’t really any dance numbers like many Broadway shows but that doesn’t take away from this being one of the better musicals to be released since the revival of the genre with Moulin Rouge!. Now this movie isn’t as good as the fore mentioned Rouge, or Chicago, but I think it fits in as my third favorite of this new era for musicals.
If you are a fan of Burton and Depp this is a must see same for any fans of Broadway or musicals. The movie works most of the time and is never boring, just slows down once or twice. The darker fare might keep some away but they would be missing out on one the most entertaining films of the year.