Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

It's still Oscar season, and Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was nominated for some Oscars -- three to be precise -- and won one (Art Direction).

The story of Sweeney Todd is one that kids hear from an early age over here in the UK. He's this almost mythical figure we are told about as a side note in history lessons at the age of about 10 or so. When we're learning about old London town and the Tower of London and Guy Fawkes and the Great Fire and all of that, somewhere in the mix Sweeney Todd gets thrown in. Kids love the idea of a barber who cuts the throats of his victims and puts them into pies. I mean, what's not to love?!

In this film version of the story, adapted from the Sondheim stage musical/opera of the same name, Johnny Depp takes the lead role and is a man who has spent 15 years wrongfully imprisoned. He's back in London under a new name to take revenge on the man who sent him away and destroyed his family...

Directed by Tim Burton and starring his two muses, Johnny Depp and "ladyfriend" Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd is, as one should expect, beautifully shot and acted.

The supporting cast is strong, too, and includes Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

I don't like musicals -- there, I've said it. I tend to find them too twee. But some rise above that categorization to become something more than just a musical. Sweeney Todd definitely does that.

I laughed. I cried. Well, no I didn't cry actually, but I did laugh. And I did grimace. Burton has not shied away from the gruesome act of blood-letting. He positively paints every available surface red, like a modern-day Argento. The sticky shiny scarlet stuff splashes superbly.

As with all musical theatre, the lyrics can be a bit rough in places. This is a necessary evil when telling a story, and I can just about put up with that. There are also some nice little rhyming couplets here and there that make up for the rest, almost.

Overall, I had a blast watching Sweeney Todd, and I'll give it 77 points out of 100.

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