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Sweeney Todd

Tim Burton's 2007 film adaptation of the musical starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

  • May 2, 2011
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I decided to rewatch this movie and after doing so, I have deduced that I was being unfair, comparing this to the stage show. Of course the stage show is brilliant, but this is a splendid work in its own right and arguably the best thing Tim Burton has done since Beetlejuice. There are some things that this movie does better than the show, and some things that the show does better than the movie, but I shall get on about that later in the review. This musical is my favourite musical of all time, and the movie definitely does it justice with Tim Burton's typical directorial and visual flair.

For those of you who don't know the story of this brilliant musical, it is about Benjamin Barker (AKA Sweeney Todd played by Johnny Depp), an escaped convict who travels home to London with a young sailor named Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower). We are soon told that Benjamin was arrested on a trumped-up charge made by Judge Turpin because Turpin wanted Barker's wife. After Barker is imprisoned, Turpin rapes his wife and that leads to her suicide by poisoning. He has also taken Todd's daughter and raised her as his own. After Todd encounters Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) and encounters Signor Pirelli, who recognizes and blackmails him (Todd responds by bashing his head in with a teapot and slitting his throat), the whole killing people and making them into pie thing starts to happen and makes for one hell of an exciting climax.

There's also a subplot involving Anthony and his romantic feelings for Johanna (Todd's daughter). However, Anthony is beaten badly and threatened by Turpin. That doesn't quash his spirit though, and he vows to get Johanna aout of Turpin's house and later, out of the madhouse so they can be together. This storyline and their romance in general is very sweet and the actors have good chemistry together. However, that brings me to one major problem with the movie. Johanna is a terribly underdeveloped character with very little screentime. In the play, she had more time with Anthony and a longer song, plus a part in a Johanna/Anthony duet. In here, she only has about six lines and they're all under ten words. Plus, she does sing, but it's a very short song. Needless to say, the story carries over from the play well to make this a worthy cinematic adaptation.

The film contains some decent performances. I'm probably going to get a lot of hate for this, but I didn't think Johnny Depp was all that spectacular as Sweeney Todd. Don't get me wrong, he was still splendid, but just not worthy of the Oscar nomination he got. Johnny Depp was the perfect choice though, because he's a character actor and a damn terrific one at that. Helena Bonham Carter was terrific in this movie, actually better than Angela Lansbury's personification of the character. She and Johnny were terrific together as always and they had two good performances in this movie. Jamie Campbell Bower is a nice-looking young fella with a great singing voice, plus he's quite a good actor and delivers his lines with total conviction. Jayne Wisener was okay as Johanna, but again, really underdeveloped and quiet. Alan Rickman was also terrific as Judge Turpin, better than his personification in the play due to his sheer perviness. Sacha Baron Cohen was hilarious as Signor Pirelli, and Edward Sanders was great playing Toby. As for the singing voices of the actors, they were all pretty good, including Johnny (even though Sweeney Todd is meant to be a bass).

The film has Tim Burton's typical visual flair, so naturally, the art direction, costume design, and general style is fantastic. The film didn't really use that much CGI, and I am quite grateful for that. The songs are also brilliant, some of the best I've ever heard in the movies, even though they are incredibly dumbed down due to most, if not all of the actors being untrained singers. Danny Elfman's score is stunning as well, along with everything else that Danny has done, with or without Tim Burton. The blood is incredibly fake-looking, so you gorehounds expecting realistic gore will be sorely disappointed. Those of you gorehounds looking for plentiful gore will be pleased, because the gore certainly is plentiful. All in all, the film certainly is very artsy and is better for it.

Sweeney Todd is not a movie for everyone, especially not for the squeamish. However, for the unsqueamish (like me), it is a highly entertaining movie that signifies Tim Burton's best work in years (despite the fact that his last original movie was Beetlejuice). Great visuals, a splendid story, a great score/songs, solid direction and writing, and good performances from everyone involved. For the non-squeamish moviegoer, I would definitely recommend this movie. It's also one of the DVDs that I would love to own but sadly don't. So, I would definitely recommend this. See it.

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More Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber... reviews
review by . January 04, 2013
Can You Tell This Is A Tim Burton Film?
This movie, like all Tim Burton movies, screams TIM BURTON. That being said, it's an enjoyable musical adaptation. Of course, "Johanna" is the stand-out musical number, being hauntingly and achingly sad. Sacha Baron Cohen is memorable and Helena Bonham Carter is quite bearable (to be fair, much of my ire towards her comes from her being Burton's wife). There are some striking visual shots (as expected) and lavishly grotesque scenes which make the lack of character depth and plot …
review by . May 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    Tim Burton gives me all that I look for in a musical feature film with "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", an adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim hit Broadway show of the same name. If you've followed up on the filmmaker's works to this day, then you'll know that he's usually not afraid to go to dark places, but I don't think he's ever purposely corned himself in a dark alley and proceeded to inflict severe and perverse emotionally deconstructive …
review by . December 12, 2010
In all fairness this is probably the worst version of Sweeney Todd out there, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. I actually do like this movie, but it seems that the only reason Tim Burton decided to adapt it is that it's a dark musical and he has already laid claim to anything with even an iota of macabre. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that, but it just makes me think that he amped up the blood and guts and downplayed the original beloved characters whereas the …
Quick Tip by . September 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Strong performances all around in both singing and acting. Even though I thought Bonham-Carter was a bit too young to play Mrs. Lovett when the cast was announced, she pulled off this role wonderfully. Depp totally got into this role as he usually does. Like he does all of his roles, he played Sweeny Todd as a three dimensional character, who did horrible things, yet you could feel sympathetic to what he went through.
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
this movie was weird to say the least. when i first heard that it was a musical i was totally uninterested, but then when i saw it i was pleasantly suprised, it was really good!
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Depp shows his wide range of talents. He shows that he can both act and sing in this movie. Burton's direction is also at its best.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A quite amazing musical/drama revenge movie. It had great potentilal and rose to the challenge. A fantastic cast.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
very......interesting, and strange movie. for a musical not that bad though.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Loved this movie! I went and bought the original afterwards and I must say, they did a great job with this movie! It is entertaining and the effects are amazing!
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This may be a bold statement but I believe that Burton may have crafted his best since Ed Wood when he made Sweeney Todd. Believe me when I say those were pretty big shoes to fill but The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is just a fantastic work of art from beginning to finish. Taking his cure from the ghastly legend of Sweeney Todd & retaining all of the original Sondheim soundtrack music, Tim Burton has proven himself once again to be nothing less than a genuis in the grand halls of cinema.   …
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About this movie


2007 musical thriller and the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's stage musical starring Johnny Depp

Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman
Directed by Tim Burton
Writers: John Logan, Steven Sondheim (Musicals)

After years of rumors, it turns out that Tim Burton was the perfect visionary to filmSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Stephen Sondheim's Broadway masterpiece, and the result is a macabre and moving musical movie as enthralling as anything Burton has ever done. The show's mix of gothic horror, Grand Guignol,verydark humor, and witty and beautiful music never was the stuff of traditional musical comedy, but it's a powerful work, and perhaps the richest of the late 20th century. In the movie, Burton's frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp, plays Todd, a wronged man whose lust for revenge drives him to murder (an 19th-century legend who has been traced to a real-life barber). Helena Bonham Carter, another Burton mainstay, is Mrs. Lovett, the barber's partner-in-unspeakable-crime. It's no surprise that Depp is an excellent choice to convey Todd's brooding intensity and volcanic rage, but he can also sing a score that is so challenging it has often played in opera houses (though not with the same style as the Broadway original, Len Cariou, and he occasionally lapses into pop style). Bonham Carter is small of voice and lacks the humor of the original Broadway Lovett, Angela Lansbury, but ...
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Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: December 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 56min (116 Minutes)
Studio: Dreamworks PIctures, Warner Bros Pictures
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