Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
803 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
Sublime
marcosaguado1 March 2008
As it happens more often than not, greatness is relegated to some obscure angle. In a year of brilliant opuses by the Cohen Brothers and PT Anderson, this Tim Burton film shines as the best from every angle. It's not just that Burton creates another superb, dark universe with Dante Ferretti's complicity or that Johnnt Deep breaks new ground, or that Helena Bonham Carter surprises us with a complex, marvelous realistic parody. The film touches visually a very private cord. Ed Wood managed that but Tim Burton with "Sweeny Todd" elevates it to the purest form of art. He will be punished for that, as Ed Wood was in its day. Disappointing grosses in a world that worship grosses will make it appear as a sort of a failure. My advise to you is run to see it wherever you can find it. Try to see it in a big screen with great sound. You will fly and dream and be taken away by the masterful hands of Tim Burton and the glorious faces of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
183 out of 235 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Gloriously Dark
malleyvoice1 March 2008
Tim Burton has gone beyond himself and anything he has ever done. "Sweeney Todd" is stunningly beautiful. Dark? yes, bloody? sure! but then we're in Victorian London where everything is what it appears to be no matter how turgid. The meeting of Mr Todd and Mrs Lovett is so scrumptiously conceived that I'm sure will be one of those film moments that are used whenever "great film moments" are compiled. Johnny Depp will never cease to amaze me. He is not just the beautiful boy with soulful eyes, but a great actor. How extraordinary that two talents like Burton and Depp should meet at the perfect moment in time. How lucky for us! Mrs Lovett is played by another extraordinary actor: Helena Bonham Carter. She is spectacular! Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman and in particular Timothy Spall add to the perfection of this film. Dante Ferreti, the production designer and Coleen Attwood, the costume designer, deserve all the kudos they are getting and will get. Glorious!
168 out of 216 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Johnny and Tim forever
katiemeyer19792 March 2008
What an extraordinary treat this bloody dirty tale of vengeance and gore is. The exquisite way Tim Burton presents it to us makes it so. Stephen Sondheim's stage masterpiece becomes a film masterpiece of unequaled stature. Everything about it reeks of genius of magic. Once again, Johnny Depp fills, Burton's macabre universe with overwhelming humanity. He can slash as many throats as he wants if we look into Johnny's eyes we see the struggle, the human winning in despair. I know I'm not making too much sense but I just want to urge you, if you love cinema, to rush and see it as God intended, on a big screen and Dolby surround sound.
86 out of 109 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A refreshing and brilliant film
roquedog50413 December 2007
Contrary to the many comments I have read and heard about the film thus far, I thought it was absolutely wonderful. After what some could term a "dry spell" for Tim Burton, it is such a breath of fresh air to see this new offering, Sweeney Todd. The movie showed Tim returning to his roots of the dark, the sinister, and the macabre. All were blended together in the setting he is so very well-known for, the dark streets of London.

In addition, I thought the fact that he maintained the musical aspect of the film/play worked in the movie's favor. I know Johnny Depp has said that he can't sing, but he sang rather well if you ask me. Keeping the cockney accent, whether singing or not, it made the film that much better. While I was surprised to see Danny Elfman not included in this movie, I believe the music was performed and carried out beautifully, nonetheless. Indeed, the accents can at times make it hard to discern what is being said, but that's not always a bad thing, considering the circumstances. Were they to all of a sudden not speak or sing with their cockney tones, it may provide a problem with consistency. Overall, I loved the movie and have no complaints. A very refreshing return to the realms and themes that Tim Burton is so very amazing at capturing. Top notch!
396 out of 547 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Dark Humor Done Right
ShellyA2275 December 2007
Despite the grim expectations from the story synopsis, the film delivers gore in a surprisingly tasteful way. There are no screaming teenagers running from a lunatic; instead we get a somewhat British blend of satire, slapstick and just "wrong" humor. Although I'm not much of a Johnny Depp fan, I enjoyed his performance as well as Helena Bonham Carter's. Even the portrayal of the common clients was stunning.

Despite being generally familiar with the story, I fell into some traps expecting specific twists, yet something different (and better) being delivered. This is a model of how to do dark humor that filmmakers should and probably will follow. It is most refreshing. Don't read the story and don't read any spoilers until you've seen it.
374 out of 529 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Tim Burton's most dramatically satisfying film so far.
Boris_Day17 December 2007
I approached Sweeney Todd with trepidation, having been underwhelmed with most of Tim Burton's recent output and every screen musical of the last decade. The biggest problem I have with Burton's films is that his screenplays rarely manage to pull their disparate elements into a satisfying whole. Here, despite adapting the material to his own sensibilities and shortening the play by an hour, he adheres closely to Sondheim's book, resulting in the most dramatically satisfying film Burton has ever made.

I liked the adaptation of the off-off Broadway Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but have been left underwhelmed by all the recent big budget film musicals, so I'm glad to say that Sweeney Todd, wipes the floor with every major screen musical of the last decade, including the likable if over extended Hairspary. Most surprising is how shockingly gruesome the the film becomes in the second half. This must be the most blood drenched film since Shogun Assassin, with arteries spurting blood like like fountains as throats are cut, with the violence escalating towards the end leading towards a climax that is exhilarating, heartbreaking and satisfyingly bleak.

Unlike the dreary dirges Danny Elfman supplied for Burton's stop frame musicals, Sondheim's score is a joy to listen to from beginning to end, its dark romanticism sometimes reminding me of Bernhard Herrmann, perfectly fitting what is both a musical and a horror film in equal measures.

Depp and Bonham Carter are both excellent and it's down to their performances that I never quite lost sympathy with them in their descent into madness, blood lust and cannibalism.

Musical haters may not be converted as 75% percent of the dialogue is sung, but this completely dispatches any notion of cloying sentimentally the genre is often associated with.
278 out of 391 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Tim Burton Claims Sweeney As His Own!
ArrestedDevelopee21 December 2007
As a fan of the original stage version of this grimly Gothic tale, going into Sweeney Todd was bittersweet in my hopes and expectations. However, I'm pleased to announce that I did find Burton's latest effort impressive and intentional. Fans of the original won't be disappointed with a top-notch cast and the wonderfully dark overtures that haunt every minute of Sweeney Todd. Tim Burton, one of the masters of ambiance, sets his atmosphere in the grisly streets of a depressed London and his artistry punctures through every scene of screen time. I would have to clarify that, while Johnny Depp is a skilled actor, fans of the original will find it hard to believe that Depp has the ability to transform into the George Hearn "Sweeny" we've come to know. This is in fact true and recognized by Burton. In this respect, the character of Depp is not played as the same manner as the deep-voiced, towering Todd from the musical adaptation. Depp's is more of a less boisterous and thoughtful one. The vocal performances are great but have a different approach and feel to them. It was a refreshing adaptation and I feel a triumph on the part of Burton for making a stage-to-screen experience that captures you from it's bloody introduction.
176 out of 244 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Burton and Sondheim: a match made in heaven
DramaQueenKate17 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, this is about a barber who kills people. Yes, this is a musical.

I have been excited about this movie since last December, when I first heard about it. Having been a Burton fan since my four year old self was quoting "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and "Nightmare Before Christmas" and a Sondheim fan since middle school, I had faith that Tim Burton was the perfect director for Sondheim's masterpiece. So you can imagine how lucky I felt to be able to see a screening of this.

This movie is all I could ever hope it would be.

I walked in the theater with my best positive outlook. I had shed my mournful tears over the cut songs (the Ballads, Kiss Me) and wanted to be as optimistic as possible, and I was not disappointed at all.

Johnny Depp's performance in this is one of his best by far. He stole every scene he was in. He has toned down Sweeney for the screen, so those used to George Hearn or Len Cariou may have to get used to, but I think the important thing to remember is that this is a movie, not a stage show.

Helena Bonham Carter gives a great performance as Mrs. Lovett. Though she is different from Angela Lansbury, her portrayal still works marvelously, and she and Johnny make a great pair.

The supporting cast is all amazing. Alan Rickman could make "High School Musical" entertaining. He is so deliciously evil in this movie, and you can tell his sidekick, Timothy Spall's Beadle Bamford, is having a great time with his sniveling character. Sacha Baron Cohen is, of course hilarious as Pirelli. The three young supporting actors (and unknowns), Jamie Campbell Bower, Ed Sanders, and Jayne Wisener, are all perfect in their roles. I hope to be seeing them in more films to come. Another unknown to Hollywood but acclaimed London stage veteran, Laura Michelle Kelly, is chillingly creepy as the beggar woman (and gives a naive sympathy as Sweeney's wife, Lucy, in the flashbacks.

Now, for the blood. There's a lot of it. A whole lot. Just a warning. However, the blood is so immense that at times it is, as Richard Roeper said, almost Python-esquire. I think audience are supposed to laugh as fountains of blood gush out of Sweeney's unlucky costumers. It is also brutal the way they land on their head on the way down to the bakehouse.

All in all, this is an amazing film even if you have never heard of Stephen Sondheim (though you really should, but that's not the point.) I can't think of a better way that theater lovers' beloved Sweeney Todd could have been brought to the screen than in Tim Burton's own unique mind, and I know that I could not be more content with this film.
56 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Awesome, dark and funny. Classic Tim Burton stuff.
metalbot-111 December 2007
Good dark fun.

I knew nothing of this movie except Tim Burton and Johnny Depp had something to do with it, and that, as the executive director put it, there was "lots of blood". I don't think of myself as liking musicals, although I should probably reconsider now.

I had a moment of dread when the movie started and there was a mention of Sacha Baron Cohen being in it. However his performance was in fact quite good. While his acting has a few things in common with his over-the-top Borat character, it somehow fits rather well within the movie.

Some elements of the plot are rather predictable, in a Greek tragedy sort of way, but it doesn't really detract from the movie. We get to enjoy the downward spiral even though we know its shape.

All in all, the movie was awesome, filled with damned and hopeless characters that still made you laugh at every turn.
290 out of 434 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A Conventicle of Geniuses Came Together Here
AnneOBrienRice20 December 2007
And this conventicle has brought us a glistening and irresistible nightmare. There are delicious Dickensian overtones throughout, and the look of the film itself is poetically potent. The entire mix is shockingly seductive with an unforgettable ending. Burton's humor is part and parcel of his sheer brilliance, as always, and, as always, the great Johnny Depp is intense and positively unforgettable. All performances are electric, the pace and length are perfect, and the film draws us deeper and deeper with every moment into its stunning blend of the grotesque and the undeniably beautiful. Analysing the power of a film like this is no simple matter. The whole is dazzlingly disturbing. You don't want to miss a second of it, even though the film is merciless to us and to its protagonists. It sings, it glows, it enchants, it horrifies. I want to see it again. And again. It's a brutal and shattering masterpiece.
250 out of 379 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The best musical in years!
Smells_Like_Cheese27 December 2007
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is one of the year's most talked about films, it's getting big Oscar buzz and of course, what could be better than Tim Burton taking on this dark musical? With Johnny Depp starring along with beautiful Helena Bonham Carter by his side, this movie just screams terrific. My mom and I saw the movie today and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street lived beyond to my expectations. Tim Burton hasn't exactly released a classic lately that would be remembered for all time, but Sweeny Todd is sure to make it's way into one of the most memorable films of 2007. Johnny Depp and Helena both have incredible voices, they were so hauntingly beautiful and magical together, it's like these roles were made for them. Along with an equally strong cast as Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen who were also incredible, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a new memorable musical for years to come.

Sweeney Todd has come to London on a mission, a mission for revenge! His wife was taken by the evil judge for his own pleasure's with her and Sweeney's daughter. Now Sweeney's daughter is grown and is being held by Judge Turpin and he has been informed by his lover, Mrs. Lovett that his wife has died. "At last my arm is complete!" Sweeney says as he raises his faithful razor and wishes to kill the vermin of the world as well. Mrs. Lovett comes up with the clever idea to create a tasty meat pie of the victims and makes quite the popular business. But Sweeney is determined to find his daughter who is being wooed by his young friend, Anthony, and kill the judge who has taken everything from him.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was so beautifully shot. The reason why I love Tim Burton so much is because he knows how colors and contrasts work in a film. He knew how dark Mrs. Lovetts and Sweeney Todd are, in a picnic scene where everything is supposed to be bright, Sweeney and Lovetts are the only dark figures in the lovely setting. The music is triumphant, the songs were so memorable and almost hypnotic, I felt like was in a real Broadway audience. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is one of the best films of the year, I guarantee it, this was a terrific musical that was a bloody good time! Tim Burton is back and he's better than ever with Johnny.

10/10
56 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Burton does better than anyone else . . .
jdesando14 December 2007
"At last, my arm is complete again." Sweeney Todd as he admires one of his efficient razors after a long absence.

I'm not sure Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd is "grand," but I'm confident it's in the best Grand Guignol tradition of sensational stage horror given its name from that little theater in early 20th century Paris that specialized in sensationally ghoulish productions. I am also sure that no one in film is better able to play the titular butcher than the shape-shifting, ever-naughty Johnny Depp.

The opening song "No Place Like London" hints to Anglophiles like me that it won't be my usual tour of West End theaters, rather a seedy, dangerous place where Mac the Knife would be more at home. Throughout the musical, Steven Sondheim's lyrics expressively revel in the amoral, throat-slicing world that Sweeney and his adoring meatpie lady, Nellie Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter), wallow in as he prepares to take revenge on the equally amoral Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who dispatched Todd to prison early on to get his beautiful young wife. Hence Sweeney's revenge inclination.

Sweeney's lyric best expresses the wildly murderous world, hardly the usual province of musicals: "Alright! You, Sir?/No one's in the chair come on, come on/Sweeney's waiting/I want you bleeders./You sir! Too sir?/Welcome to the grave./I will have vengeance./I will have salvation . . . ." Yes, it's Sleepy-Hollow, Corpse-Bride Tim Burton's movie with blood spouting like red paint from a pressure gun contrasting the somber, almost black and white underside of London. When one of the children bites into a pie with a finger in it (shades of our contemporary law suits!), the audience doesn't even gasp, given the omnipresence of bloody bodies.

There is no more interesting musical this year, even considering the enchanting Once. In the end, it is unsettling, unsavory, and unusual. Burton does better than anyone else in juxtaposing horror with innocence.
149 out of 235 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Shave and a haircut -- two slits!
steve-bailey-116 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I came to "Sweeney Todd" with a clean slate, as it were. I'd never seen any of the previous stage or screen versions, and I'm generally adverse to the archly ironic style of Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim.

All of that said, I was thoroughly delighted by director Tim Burton's version of the story. As with Burton's best work, it's movie-making at its Grand Guignol finest.

For those even more ignorant of the story than I am, Johnny Depp plays the title role, or should I say evolves into it. Initially, his character is named Benjamin Barker, and he's a happily married father in Victorian London.

But an evil judge named Turpin (Alan Rickman at his oil-slick smoothest) lusts after Barker's wife. So he wrongly sentences Barker to prison, seduces and poisoningly induces Barker's wife, and takes Barker's baby daughter as his "charge," to await the day when she is old enough to marry him.

Fifteen years later, Barker escapes from prison, returns to London, and adopts the persona of barber Sweeney Todd. At first, he intends only upon avenging Turpin. But he soon discovers he has an other-barberly way with a razor. And as it happens, Todd's landlady (Helena Bonham Carter), an unsuccessful baker, could use some fresh ingredients to sell her pies.

Oh, and this is a musical, too -- albeit the bloodiest musical ever, with shot after shot of Todd severing the necks of bourgeois customers whom he feels have it coming.

So why do I heartily recommend such a gruesome holiday offering? For one thing, the script (by John Logan, an avid "Todd" buff) and Burton's elegant direction take the story its bare bones, with vivid characterization and crisp plotting and timing.

Of course, the actors contribute much as well. And every last one of them -- including Sacha Baron Cohen, whose "Borat" business turned me off -- sing and act wonderfully, taking some of the sting off the movie's black-comedy ickiness.

Johnny Depp, again, takes major chances and scores. The feyness of Burton/Depp collaborations such as "Ed Wood" and "Willie Wonka" is gone. In its place is Todd's grisly dark confidence and rationality of his murdering ways -- the ultimate depiction of the maxim "Be careful what you wish for." Its dark themes aside, "Sweeney Todd" is the latest entry in an apparent renaissance of the movie musical -- and justifiably so.

"Sweeney Todd" is rated R for numerous scenes of violence and murder, and themes of cannibalism.
112 out of 185 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Got me onside, surprisingly good
motta80-27 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I am generally not a fan of musicals. I don't like the artifice of singing dialogue moments. I have no problem with singing in a movie but this grates on me. Take Dreamgirls for instance. For the most part i was fine with it, good songs, performed as performances with a narrative structure surrounding them. However once of twice it had songs in place of dialogue where characters were discussing things amongst themselves or some such thing and i just got annoyed. And yes i dislike all the classics like West Side Story for this very reason.

For about the first 20-30 minutes of Sweeney Todd I was having the same problem. This makes no bones about it being a musical. It's not Rex Harrison speak-sing, it's not staged songs in the middle of clumps of dialogue, it's pretty much all singing. Everything. Every sentiment, every emotion, every plan, every aside. Yet after about 20 minutes or so i got used to it and went with it and then just appreciated the wonderful dark humour and sheer entertainment quality of it.

Johnny Depp is great in the lead but he is complimented across the entire cast with Alan Rickman on fabulously villainous mode; Timothy Spall wonderfully revolting an Beadle Bamford - Rickman's henchman; and Helena Bonham Carter hilariously off-centre with all the best lines. It also has a star making turn from a brilliant child actor, Edward Sanders. Much better than the now ubiquitous Freddie Highmore (who got his big break with Depp in Finding Neverland before rejoining him (with Burton) in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory) he seems destined to have a great career potentially.

The film's greatest achievement however is how Burton has translated it to screen. This is a purely film musical. It never feels stagey. Unlike recent films like The Producers, Dreamgirls, Chicago which felt largely like they'd stuck a camera in a theatre and just filmed the show here Burton is brave enough to create a cinematic musical using all the tricks of his craft. That is never feels like it belongs anywhere but on a cinema screen is a huge testament to Burton's skill in the translation and I hope the Academy is intelligent enough to recognise this come the Oscars next year.

The dark humour is great, the look is stunning, Depp is gloriously unhinged while remaining believable. Even if, like me, you don't generally like this type of musical i think you'll get swept up in Sweeney Todd and enjoy it. Bravo Mr Burton.
68 out of 111 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Bloody good!
Bob-24021 December 2007
This movie stunned me so much that I could hardly move from my seat when it was over. The dark cinematography is brilliant and works so well to enhance the story. Johnny Depp has given us so many amazing performances in the past and you can put this one up there at the top of the list. I have to admit that in the past I have loathed Tim Burton offerings but he redeems himself in my opinion with a feast for the eyes and ears that is a triumph. I approached the movie with trepidation because actors put in singing roles seldom work, but not this time. The singing was not only terrific, it was mesmerizing. I have to warn you this movie is for movie fans that love music (Broadway, classical or opera) and have a cast iron stomach. I heard they used 70 gallons of fake blood filming it and I believe them. All I can say is you can see the bloody scenes coming a mile off so you have plenty of time to avert your eyes.
68 out of 114 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Burton slits Sondheim's throat.
Cinemadharma24 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd" explores moral dualism -- the belief of the coexistence or conflict between the "benevolent" and the "malignant", such as a conflict between good and evil. Sondheim expresses this in many ways, chief among them is his extensive use of counterpoint. Counterpoint is "the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm, and interdependent in harmony". The term comes from the Latin 'punctus contra punctum' or "note against note". Counterpoint is often used in musicals, especially in songs that try to compare or contrast two or more characters' views. As written and originally conceived and staged, the musical counterpoint in "Sweeney Todd" mirrors not only the difference of views between the characters, but the conflict of views within each character.

Tim Burton's film "Sweeney Todd" fails because it has eliminated the emotional and psychological counterpoint, and with it any and all depth of character. Instead of "note against note", Burton offers "one note only".

One of the key elements to what makes the musical so powerful and dynamic is the counterpoint between and within Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. On the outside, Sweeney is dark, brooding, vengeful and single mindedly violent. On the inside, he is a wronged man, in complete and spectacular anguish over the loss of his daughter and the death of his young bride. This dual conflict of morality is illustrated during Sweeney's powerful "Epiphany" when he sings "I will have vengeance... I will have salvation!" His underlying basic human goodness is the reason we care about Sweeney and what makes him a tragic character.

Mrs. Lovett is his mirror opposite. On the outside, (originally embodied by Angela Lansbury) Mrs. Lovett is bright, quirky, colorful and upbeat. She reminds you of your sweet ol' grandma. Hiding away on the inside however, is the real demon of Fleet Street - she lies and manipulates Sweeney into committing bloody murder, then comes up with the ghastly idea of baking the dead bodies into meat pies.

Burton's Sweeney is nothing but vengeful, his Mrs Lovett is as dark, brooding and humorless as Sweeney, his Judge Turpin shows no conscience (due to the cutting of Turpin's one musical number in which he expresses his personal morality battle), his Toby is a cute and clever Oliver-esquire street urchin, rather than the original 'mentally-challenged' Toby who is smarter than he appears. This theme is everywhere in the Sondheim musical - Sweeney Todd is really Benjamin Barker, Adolfo Pirelli is actually a Brit masquerading as the Italian UberBarber who disguises pee and ink as hair tonic, Anthony rescues Joanna from an insane asylum by disguising himself as a wigmaker, Joanna is then disguised as a male sailor, dead bodies are disguised as meat pies... it goes on and on... and in the end, the Tim Burton film is disguised as the Stephen Sondheim musical, but is ultimately revealed to be the empty, shallow film it is.
48 out of 81 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Well....
fire9215 December 2007
It was bloody, disturbing, gruesome...and I loved every minuet of it! Deep makes a awesome Sweeney but I think Helena Bonham Carter is my favorite performance in this film, she is VERY funny and makes the character her own! BUT for people who love the stage version (which I do!) try to erase every thought of it from your mind! If you keep comparing it to what it was on stage than you won't enjoy it as much! Go in to the theater with an open mind and embrace the film for what it is (very different then what it is on stage)! This is an amazing film and I recommend it to every one (except to people who have week stomachs)!
105 out of 191 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Barely Misses The Mark
andrew180028 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Bearing in mind what Tim Burton films are like, I was still disappointed with the end result of the film adaptation of SWEENEY TODD. Most of the problems lie in the fact that Burton makes an already dark and gory tale even darker and gorier. This is precedence over plot and character detail, even cutting songs from the original show that greatly helped these areas.

In discussing the film with my fellow moviegoer, we agreed that the movie does suffer from having "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" excluded from this version. By including any passerby that the camera zooms by (which in this day of CGI, such editing was inevitable) or lingers on, Burton could have easily made this work, too - what a shame. Some cuts and changes, do better the story, such as the toning down of Johanna by making her less freaky a person and less shrieky a singer.

Unfortunately every plus like the aforementioned instance, is met with more than one minus, such as the way the character of the homeless woman in brought into the movie. By introducing her so late into the story (also by cutting an earlier song of hers), we wonder, why bother at all? She becomes a tacked-on subplot, an afterthought of the screenplay. It's no wonder Johnny Depp looks to feel almost nothing for her at the end of the film.

I am also on the ilk that thinks principle characters should not be shown gruesomely dying in the picture frame, unless it serves a clear purpose (e.g. Janet Leigh in PSYCHO). If not, then it only becomes pure exploitation (and hopefully I've given enough hints as to which character I'm speaking of without totally giving it away). This only becomes more apparent as you watch certain characters die and ask, "how come they got an explicit death scene and not this character?" What is the point, indeed...

The movie also highlights contrivances in the story itself: how, out of all the people in London, could this homeless woman have encountered all the characters in the story on separate occasions? It's because she's there merely to keep the storytelling wheels turning, and when the story is slimmed down to a stage presence, it seems to make more sense. Likewise, the absence of police, who appear at the end of the play, but not the film. With townspeople disappearing left and right, how could they not have intervened sooner? The movie leaves us with these questions of logic, which, even for a musical, should have been addressed.

As for the principles, they all do an okay job. If any criticism is to be made about the restraint in their singing and acting, the finger should be pointed at how the film was directed. Burton seems to think that he can counterbalance each person by giving them an overly cartoony exterior (Sweeney's Bride-Of-Frankenstein hair) and a very, very subtle interior; subtle to the point of shallow character depth and a communication barely audible (and God only knows how many lines I missed because the actors spoke so quietly). The play seems to have worked successfully with these values reversed - underplayed, but period costumes with bombastic personalities.

Timothy Spall -- whom I hold in high regard, but know he accepts bad scripts sometimes -- is sadly reduced to nothing more than a sniveling rat, complete with bulging eyes and gnarly teeth. I pictured Beadle the way he's seen on stage and thought Spall would fit in so seamlessly. Here his craft is wasted on a one-dimensional, stereotypical villain - another sad, shame of the movie.

Sacha Baron Cohen, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him kind of role, is almost totally pointless in being cast. So long as the film had a big name like Depp to draw audiences, any person could have been cast in the role of Pirelli. Most of his songs and lines are reduced to nothing, coupled with an accent that is too difficult to understand. Visually, the mustache bit worked quite well on the stage in revealing his con-artistry, which is not used in the film. Burton only wants to make it known that Borat was cast in his film and wears a ludicrously funny wig before he might be bumped off.

Kudos are to be given to Edward Sanders, the child who was rightfully chosen to play Toby. It's nice to finally have someone who is close to the age of the character because, judging from the stage version, I seemed to have it in my head that Toby was just supposed to be a dwarf. His confident singing voice and charismatic involvement makes an impact over the course of the picture.

It seems that the movie seems is solely impressionable to people because it is opera-like in its music and jarring in its horror - "the perfect horror musical." These extremes are only due to the fact that the music has been slimmed down to just under two hours and the dark comedy is stripped to be just, well, dark. You could really just watch the opening credits and know everything about everything that follows. You could just stop watching altogether, and not have to ask yourself questions like, "why is Sweeney on a boat with that guy?" To anyone who knows the story, you'd know Sweeney was a prisoner, but that seems to have been rushed in the movie if you don't pay close attention.

Another question to be asked is, "when is Burton going to NOT use Depp to be some glaring freak in his movies?" Hopefully the same day Burton decides that making every movie to be a moving Edward Gory illustration has placed him in a rut. SWEENEY is not a complete waste of time, but it is not half of what it could have been, and Burton most definitely needs a change of scenery.
33 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
A Bloody Mess
Smuckers24 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I love "Sweeney Todd" the Broadway show. But what a relentless, grim, slog this movie is.

Where to begin? Johnny Depp looks like Cruella De Ville, and sings like David Bowie. He is completely miscast. An overrated actor if there ever was one. Helena Bohnam Carter fares slightly better, but can barely carry a tune. Both look too young for their roles.

Many scenes contain whispered or otherwise unintelligible dialogue. Other scenes are terribly under lit.

The movie has no tempo, no shape. The pacing is leaden. The staging is pedestrian, even during the musical numbers. You keep waiting for them to take off, but they just plod along to their lead footed conclusion.

By stripping out half the score, Burton has taken away the context, the irony, and the dark humor of the Broadway show. What we are left with is a docu-psycho-drama...with music! In the Broadway show, Sweeney gets up off the floor at the end and admonishes the audience to "attend" his tale. In the movie, there is no such relief. All we are left with is a perverse, depressing, bloody pieta...fade to black.

Oh, and the blood---! It's horrific, and no amount of apologizing or explaining on behalf of the production team can excuse it. This is beyond "over-the-top," it's gratuitous, even pornographic. Only for the very strongest of stomachs.

The audience I saw the movie with greeted the credits in absolute silence. Then we all glumly shuffled out of the theater, feeling like we needed a shower.

Who is this movie for? People who like musicals will hate the blood. People who like slasher flicks will hate the music. People who like Sondheim will hate the reduced score and the inadequate singing voices. And the teeny boppers who like Johnny Depp will be traumatized for life.

It's a movie for nobody. Stay away. Rent the DVD of the Broadway show.
124 out of 235 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Behind the blood-soaked curtain...
stopsign999917 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Tim Burton's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's stage musical is less transposition than re-imagining; fraught with both heavy expectations and risky subject matter (murder, revenge, cannibalism, poverty---we're not talking "Mamma Mia" here), this cinematic offering had every reason to turn out a failure, or at least a massive letdown. Does the film fulfill the dark promise of its theatrical parent? Gloriously, the answer's yes.

The film's CG-heavy title sequence doesn't portend well (the glossy, too-perfect video-rendered look of the title imagery are a poor match for the grim subject matter), but once the story kicks in, Burton and company more than prove themselves worthy of Sondheim's masterwork. The film's opening shots of Sweeney Todd's arrival in London, are some of the more striking images Burton has created, the grimy details of the nineteenth-century British capital painted in every grimy soot-covered stroke on screen. This is, gladly, as far from a prettified or fairy-tail view of Victorian London as we're likely to get, right up there with the grungy neo-noir views of Victorian life of "From Hell", "The Prestige" or G.W. Pabst's "Threepenny Opera". In this world the gaslights illuminate a world one step away from Hell, the industrial fog of soot hiding monsters around every street corner, so no wonder Sweeney Todd seems right at home upon his arrival. The design team of Dante Ferreti (sets) and Colleen Atwood (costumes) plunge us into a discomforting, claustrophobic 19th-century London void of romance, the horrible beauty of an intricate landscape of harsh dirty concrete and cruel grey skies.

The most contentious area of speculation, the vocal performances of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter in the leads, are answered with mixed results. Depp's singing is steady and passionate, displaying an admirable willingness to put his voice front-and-center in Sondheim's unforgiving and challenging compositions which lay the singer bare to the needs of the narrative and the audience's perception of the central character. Sweeney's almost Brechtian connection to the spectator's view of the action in on display when he's the only character who gets solitary moments during which he seems in direct communication with the audience with this thoughts and feelings. Burton and Depp beautifully communicate this in the "Epiphany" number by opening the action into the street and choreographing Sweeney's action amongst the denizens of London who don't see him; psychologically the only ones aware of Sweeney's encroaching madness are the audience and Sweeney himself. It's a joyous celebration of deliberate homicidal determination, when all doubt falls away and Sweeney knows his place in this dismal world. Depp;s vocal stylings are spot-on, his only failure in the few moments when he's reaching for the end note on a search-and-destroy mission.

Helena Bonham-Carter's work is more problematic, as she doesn't possess the voice to pull off the material in its original form and the film's vocal arrangements barely give her any more margin for error. Her performance in the end does work for two reasons: first, she won't make anyone forget Angela Lansbury and she really doesn't try, working exclusively within the range of her own voice. Second, she imbues Mrs.Lovett with a sharp wit and cynical worldliness which goes a long, long way in leavening the show's dark ambiance. Bonham-Carter's reputation as a Merchant-Ivory "corset queen" is partially deserved, but she doesn't get near enough credit for how funny she can be (her asides in "Wings of the Dove" and "Welcome to Baghdad" show a sharp, distinct comic intelligence). Her willingness to lampoon her persona in costume pictures translates beautifully to the morally derelict, slovenly but calculating Mrs.Lovett, who as the (slightly) more mentally present half of the murderous equation anchors the story and reminds the viewer of the giddier joys of such a gruesome and dismal tale. For a moment, you actually believe that Lovett considers Sweeney and Tobias her "family" and there's a glimpse of the twisted romantic underneath the blood- soaked veneer of the cannibalistic pie-maker.

The real surprise here is Tim Burton, who confirms his ability as one of the most able and vibrant visual stylists in contemporary film. Burton's uneven output highlights the fact that he's a brilliant showman but unsure as a storyteller; his films are beautifully crafted but many of them drag by the second act, bogged down in visual histrionics and setpieces which dazzle the eye but stagnate the storyline ("Sleepy Hollow" being only one example of this; shoehorned into a protracted story line the film became draggy and tiring after the second act). Partnered with a stripped-down, lean screenplay by John Logan, Burton finds a perfect framework for his paintbrush, his visual extravagances disciplined by a demandingly sparse and clear-headed narrative. Referencing all manner of ghoulish artistic, theatrical and cinematic traditions including Grand Guinol, Hammer Horror, Mario Bava, and Edward Gory, Burton's every stroke keeps this horror show running efficiently. You can feel his sideshow-worthy glee at the chance to bring this story to the screen and this time his talents are completely attuned to the needs of Sondheim's horror show. If there is a false step here, it's that the film's pacing is too frenetic, lurching from one narrative point to the next almost as though Burton was concerned that the viewer's interest would wander for even a second. As it is the show's edited morsels (the show's numbers have been clipped to ten for the film) have barely a chance to digest in the viewer's mind before zipping to the next installment and the film's ending is more than abrupt.

In most respects it's a triumph, as Burton raises the film from the long shadow of the stage show and makes the story his own. It's as tasty a cinematic pie as any filmmakers could have made out of the fearsome, poisoned stew of the story of the Demon Barber.
31 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Introducing the new generation Infant Homicides: "Danielle Panabaker & Ed Sanders"
CihanVercan15 September 2008
2007 has passed with 2 tracer bullet psycho-crime movies; Mr.Brooks and Sweeney Todd, with similar endings:

Miss Jane Brooks(Danielle Panabaker) hunted his father(Kevin Costner) and Little Toby(Ed Sanders) overcame his master(Johnny Depp). We'll look forward to see if producers and directors can make good use of these new generation infant homicides, in future.

Tim Burton is having his leading actor killed for the first time, if we consider Beetle Juice as an immortal superhero. Responsibly, Sweeney Todd dies just after he accidentally killed his beloved wife.

I don't know why, but lately in all psycho movies, all the bloody grim killers turn into mother's pet at the end. Since when? Since Mary Harron's "American Psycho"(which had Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, the man of the dark nights, had become Christopher Nolan's Batman afterward). This way or another, every psychopathic killer is completely bewildered and is repented at the end. Yet before, there was no repentance. For instance, Beetle Juice was never repented, Addams Family were never repented, Reservoir Dogs were never either. Somebody please tell me: Who put this repentance law to psycho movies?

Anyway, Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a musical film-noir from Tim Burton with his original style of bearish and abominable bugs'n beetles movie.
14 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
D for Dreadful (some spoilers)
lori-1696 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Tim Burton missed the point of this one. I'm sorry. He just doesn't get it.

Yes, this film is Sweeney Todd through Tim Burton's eyes, that is one thing for sure.

Tim Burton's direction is just way, way too heavy. This material is very dark. It doesn't need the heavy, dark hand of Burton to make it any darker.

I was not a fanatic of the musical before seeing the film. In fact I had only seen one version of the musical before, the most recent Broadway production directed by Jonathan Doyle, with the incomparable Michael Cerveris as Sweeney. So I am not a traditionalist, and I am certainly open to new interpretations. If they are good.

This interpretation simply wasn't. It's not only the fact that Burton changed around major plot points (like how three of the major characters are killed). It's not only Helena Bonham Carter's wooden acting skills (except for when she is screaming as she's burned to death). Burned to death? Wait, that's not in the script. Oh, it is now! And I could be wrong but I don't believe for a second that she is the one singing her role.

I was pleasantly surprised by Johnny Depp's singing, although it took some getting used to. I thought it would be awful, and it wasn't. But his acting, which I usually love, was simply awful. Academy Award? Please. Stop kidding around. Maybe I just had a hard time seeing past all the teased up 80s style hair on his head, but a few eyebrow raises, forehead crinkles and blank stares are not my idea of Oscar-worthy acting.

But speaking of jokes, where were they? This script is supposed to be damn funny. Many funny bits sprinkled throughout, from the Worst Pies in London through the silly interludes in Pretty Women to the hilarious double meanings in By the Sea, A Little Priest (I'm sorry, why were they looking out the window in this scene instead of interacting with each other over the pies? I must have missed this. Oh, that's right, they didn't interact in the WHOLE FILM - except for that one part when Sweeney tells her to get out, loved that).

But apparently Tim Burton missed the humor. Not only the humor, but he seemed to have missed the entire point of the whole song A Little Priest (not to mind the whole point of Sweeney's story).

He also took out any sexual references, including a whole song, and made the whole thing very unsexy. I have read reviews saying Carter was very sexy in this, but I didn't see that at all. Yeah, her very shallow cleavage shows through most of the movie, except in one scene during By the Sea when she inexplicably seems to have no breasts or nipples at all, but that doesn't make for sexy.

The only giggle in the entire theater came from me when Sacha Baron Cohen (a breath of fresh air, IMHO) came out in that ridiculous blue body suit reminiscent of the late Evel Knievel.

By making Toby an actual little boy rather than an adolescent or adult who might not be all quite there, Burton took away a lot of the meaning of this part of the script as well, and took away some of the humor from Pirelli's Miracle Elixir as well as one of the most beautiful songs of all, Not While I'm Around.

Oh and don't get me started on the music. Horrible, awful. Taking Sondheim's masterpiece and making it almost unrecognizable. There were three tempos of music in the film: very slow, extremely slow, and super fast. Really it's only two tempos (very slow and super fast) but I'm trying to give a little more credit than is deserved. In parts the usually gorgeous score tended to drag on and on and on and in other parts it was so rapid it was like someone suddenly just turned up the metronome and no one realized it. Almost like little robot people just got their engines revved up.

Yes, robotic. That's how I would describe almost all of the acting. Alan Rickman was good as usual. Sacha Baron Cohen gave some needed spice to the movie. I usually love Johnny Depp and can rarely find fault with him, but this older, not wiser, version of Edward Scissorhands just did not sit very well with me. I usually hate Bonham Carter and she did not disappoint in this regard. Why was she cast in the film again? Oh, right. She's Tim Burton's wife. I almost forgot.

Jamie Campbell Bower was okay as Anthony, seemed a little young for the role and his facial expressions were odd at times, but he held his own. And Jayne Wisener had the best singing voice in the cast (besides Rickman's, which was quite good as well), her acting wasn't bad either.

Timothy Spall was at times bearable, at times awful as Beadle. Does everything have to be visual with you, Burton? Is everyone ugly evil and everyone evil ugly and all is black and white? Seems that way.

The visuals were sometimes interesting, but mostly again very very heavy handed, and unnecessarily so. I didn't see anything interesting or original about them. They were also at times completely implausible. For example, there is no physical way the chute for the bodies could go directly to the basement fro the barber shop. Thet would have to pass through Mrs. Lovett's bakery. This is stupid and unnecessary.

If you're sick of reading my review, then you get a small sense of how I felt at the end of the movie. Except you didn't pay hard earned money to read this, lucky you. I should have left in the first 5 minutes of the film when I had the impulse.
45 out of 80 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Johnny Depp gets to wear the white face paint .....again
grolsch25 January 2008
I know I am supposed to love this movie, after all its a literary masterpiece and it was Directed by Burton & its got Depp but um it was just underwhelming.

What on earth were they thinking? I am sure that as a stage play that this would be quite enjoyable but as a movie it just did not translate too well, it would have been much better if it was not a musical. The songs were at times irritating and at other times just pointless. The story could have been presented as a great black comedy, which of course is what the Sweeny Todd story is. Instead it fell short, I smiled a couple of times as the corpses slid down the chute but overall it failed to deliver any real laughs.

It seems as if this was nothing more than a vehicle for a potential award in the musical/comedy category for Depp. To be honest I am getting a bit tired of seeing Depp with the white face paint and blackened eyes, enough already its time for something different.

For my money white face paint and deadpan delivery is NOT acting.

I have no idea how this has rated so highly on IMDb, at best this is a 5-6/10
21 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Very disappointed
Leopold0055 February 2008
I suppose in many ways I should've found out more about this movie, rather than just thinking it looked good on the trailer and going to see it. Still, that's the way it went, so here goes the review.

First thing I noted, just from the opening credits, was the Burtonesque style. This had me immediately concerned as I'm not a huge fan of his work. Why not? Well, I do find his work is very much style over substance. His films look good, but I've never been over enamoured with anything else. Burton films are like Windows Vista; looks good but ultimately you want to leave it alone. Okay, so I've paid good money, I'll sit it out and hope it's more Beetlejuice than Corpse Bride.

Second thing I noted was that it was a musical. This surprised me. Not being the sort to frequent stage shows, I hadn't realised that there was a stage musical to base it on. Ah. Still, it might work, this sort of thing has been done before. I'll give it a chance.

Well, it didn't work. It was very typically Burton style over substance, yet again. London looked gloriously slummy and very definitely suited the mood, in much the same way the Michael Keaton "Batman" recreated Gotham as a dark place. I didn't like that film, either, for much the same style over substance reason. After a few minutes of admiring how the mood has been captured, you're bored and want the film to entertain.

But there was worse to come.

For a start, Johnny Depp's cockney accent drifted into Jack Sparrow. Every time it happened - and it did so a lot - it grated on me, purely because Captain Jack is not a macabre character, and hearing that voice detracted from that required for Benjamin Barker's unstable mental state. I wanted someone who would be full of malice and ill-will generated by gross injustice, and I ended up seeing a hapless pirate with delusions of grandeur. Not good.

Then there was Helena Bonham-Carter, playing the role of a slightly unhinged woman with mad hair and poor complexion. Ooh, what a surprise! I'm sure the point was that there was supposed to be a chemistry between Sweeney and Mrs Lovett, but there was nothing. Nothing at all. I know there's supposed to be a degree of unrequited love on Mrs Lovett's part, but in this she was moping round him like a lovesick teenager, getting nothing back.

If this is based on the musical, then I don't want to see it. It seemed as though the songs were purely "sung dialogue" rather than actual music scores. In many cases, the songs didn't even seem to fit. Perhaps there should be more to them, maybe there is in the stage show, but on screen it was awful. And we can't even blame the medium either, as Grease transferred to the silver screen very well.

Then there was the gore. Talk about obvious! After the first couple of slashings, it was very tiresome and unnecessary. Burton really could do with taking lessons from Tarantino on how to do gory violence; we all know the scene from Reservoir Dogs, where Mr. Blond cuts the ear off the police officer whilst dancing to "Stuck in the middle with you". We never see the act, just hear the screams, which makes it all the more sickening. The mind can do more justice to implied violence than the camera ever can with visuals.

The film was too long, too. How much of it was entirely necessary, I wonder? There was one massive plot diversion which was just a complete waste of time. Making an audience invest in a substantial subplot and not follow it through to a reasonable conclusion is extremely irritating.

And to cap it all, the cherry on the icing on the excrement cake, Alan Rickman wasn't even as good as he usually is as an arch villain. Granted, it's a change not to see him overact, but in this case the role positively demanded it.

It gets a half star from me purely because there were a couple of lines which made me chuckle and because Timothy Spall played a good weaselly character. I score it a 1 as that's as low as I can go.
83 out of 158 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
This movie is amazing
thomaskluiver26 January 2014
When I saw this film for the first time, I was immediately blown away. I had never heard of the bloody story of Sweeney Todd, which is an amazing story about revenge. Honestly: this story is so great almost anyone could make an awesome movie from it. But Tim Burton has exceeded all expectations, if you ask me. The atmosphere of this film is just superb, it's all black and white and RED and beautiful.. the music and cast are perfect. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are all great (and they can sing too!) The songs will probably be stuck in your head for weeks (most notably "My Friends", "Pretty Women" and "No Place Like London"). This is, in my opinion, certainly the best musical that's out there.. probably one of the best films I've ever seen. And you're going to want to watch (and sing along with) it again and again.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed