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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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"The Worst Pies in London"

  • Dec 23, 2008
Rating:
+4
WARNING: This film contains graphic bloody violence.

Whenever Tim Burton makes a film with his wife, Helena Bonham Carter and his close friend, Johnny Depp as the film's stars... the result is typically bloody brilliant. That's certainly the case with Burton's filmed adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The film is a dark, morbid, brutally violent revenge melodrama that follows the life of a wrongfully imprisoned man, as he seeks out the deaths of anyone whoever did him harm.

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd
Unsurprisingly Johnny Depp plays Sweeney Todd to perfection. With his maniacal stare, brooding demeanor, and haunting vocals, he shows that he can not only sing but also tread the line that separates horror from comedy. Helena Bonham Carter is also magnificent as the delightfully dreary Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a bakery where she makes gruesome meat pies (guess where she gets the meat from). The film also stars Alan Rickman as the sinister Judge Turpin, Timothy Spall as the demented Beadle Bramford, and the hilarious Sacha Baron Cohen as rival barber, Adolfo Pirelli. The entire cast is superb and part of what makes their performances so stunning is that none of them are professional singers. Though they might not possess the vocal talents that the cast of the stage musical had, they bring their own personalities and their own unique style to the songs, which have never sounded more contemporary.


Benjamin Barker was a talented barber and a devoted husband, whose idyllic life was intruded upon by tragedy and conspiracy. He was accused of a crime that he did not commit and sent to prison for fifteen years. After being released he makes his way back to his London home, where he reestablishes his barbershop on Fleet Street, but he now goes by the name of Sweeney Todd. Sweeney discovers that his imprisonment was the result of the scheming Judge Turpin, who coveted Barker's wife and then raised his daughter, Johanna as his own. Sweeney craves the satisfaction of bloody revenge, so he forms an alliance with the deranged Mrs. Lovett. It is Mrs. Lovett who conceives of the plan of disposing the bodies of Sweeney's victims by putting them into meat pies. So while Sweeney reduces London's impoverished populace, Mrs. Lovett creates the worst pies in London. Soon the situation becomes sticky when a young sailor falls in love with Johanna, earning the wrath of Judge Turpin and his toady, Beadle Bramford. And things only worsen when Adolfo Pirelli, a mountebank barber, discovers Todd's identity, which forces Todd to kill him in a particularly grotesque manner. As the bodies pile up and Todd descends into a self-destructive cycle of revenge, fortuitous circumstances lead him to make decisions that horrifically alter the lives of all involved.


The screenplay by John Logan is based upon Stephen Sondheim's musical, but he also makes sly references to English folklore and gothic horror stories. The film's greatest strengths are the quality of the acting combined with Sondheim's brilliant music.
Don't eat that meat pie!
However the film is flawed in its execution. Quite often there's too much focus on throat slitting, which quickly becomes monotonous, as well as nauseating for squeamish viewers. Personally, the bloodletting itself didn't bother me so much as the repetitive nature of it. It's unfortunate that Tim Burton couldn't have found a way to show the killings in a more creative slapstick style. The film's look is priceless due to the immaculately created sets, costumes, and props, which plunge viewers into the seedy underworld of London in the 19th Century.
Two Equally Wicked Individuals
All in all, Sweeney Todd is a macabre masterpiece, a musical/dark comedy/horror hybrid that will either become reviled or beloved in time.
Judge Turpin The Closest Shave...

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July 11, 2010
Man I loved this film as well and I am absolutely in love with Helena Bonham Carter, I just love her in everything she does.
July 11, 2010
She was amazing in "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"! Terrific in this as well.
 
March 04, 2010
I too loved this film. I just had to see it in the theatres, which I rarely do. There were times when I couldn't quite understand Helena when she was singing, but it may have been because of her strong accent, and because I liked the sound of her voice, it didn't detract terribly from my enjoyment anyway. I'd never heard of Sweeney Todd before this film, so I can't compare this to the original play, like many of the film's haters have done. I also thought that the ending was brilliant. I'm usually never surprised by "twists", but I honestly didn't see that one coming at all. Thanks for this review.
March 04, 2010
No problem. It's funny, in the case with musicals I typically don't like them on the first viewing, especially at the theatres because the sound quality isn't as good. But this has become one of my favorite film musicals right up there with "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "The Phantom of the Opera".
March 04, 2010
I've always wanted to see "The Phantom Of The Opera", but haven't ever gotten around to it. I don't usually watch musicals, but with the case of "Sweeney Todd", the dark atmosphere and haunting lyrics made it more appealing to me. Have you reviewed "The Phantom Of The Opera"?
March 04, 2010
Yep, both the musical and the 1924 silent film.
March 04, 2010
Okay, I'll take a look at those.
March 04, 2010
So, you've never seen either? Do you like silent films?
March 04, 2010
Neither, and I'll confess that I've never seen a silent film.
March 04, 2010
Well, if you see either, let me know what you think.
March 04, 2010
Will do.
 
September 20, 2009
Awe... you got to this before I could.  I really enjoyed this film.  I thought it was among Tim Burton's best... though not THE best he's done.  But it was probably one of his best films in a long time.
September 21, 2009
It certainly was a vast improvement over "Planet of the Apes" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". I love Burton's visionary style and his quirky characters, but he needs to stay away from remakes. In fact, most directors need to stay away from remakes. However, I am curious to see how Burton's re-imagining of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" will turn out.
September 21, 2009
Actually, when I first heard of Tim Burton doing Alice in Wonderland it almost seems perfect for him.  It's weird, crazy and dark enough for him.  I liked the visual style of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though I'm still divided on that one.
September 21, 2009
My only hope is that he sticks with the source material, doesn't mock the 1951 Disney film, and shows more restraint than he did in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". It's funny, but he's such a hit and miss kind of filmmaker. He doesn't make mediocre films, only great ones and terrible ones, never anything in-between. Truthfully, I'm also a little jealous because I had always dreamt of doing a live-action Disney version of "Alice in Wonderland" and he beat me to it. So much for pipe dreams!
 
September 20, 2009
Honestly, I liked this movie but I always get disconnected whenever a film is a musical. I liked the premise, loved the set designs and cinematography but sadly, I couldn't sit through this. If I was a director, I'll give this the woopak treatment--truly dark, disturbing and grim. nice review.
September 21, 2009
Well, this did veer into very dark territory, but the mix of dark comedy and disturbing horror kind of cancelled each other out. Altogether, it's an uneven film, but a fun one. I, too, am not a fan of musicals except for a few ("The Wizard of Oz", "Fiddler on the Roof", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Phantom of the Opera", etc.) but most of them fall into sub-genres like fantasy, horror or sci-fi.
 
May 16, 2009
Meh. I would've given this two enthusiastic thumbs up ofcourse & five stars. You brute! Excellent review nonetheless. Keep it up!
May 16, 2009
It would've gotten 5 had it not been for the imbalance of tone. It could've done with more of Burton's dark sense of humor and little less of the very repetitive throat-slittings. They could have at least added some slap stick humor. I don't know what, maybe some blood squirting out the window into a customer's meat pie and he smiles and asks what the delicious new secret sauce is. :)
May 16, 2009
I can see your point but I don't believe the overall tone of this film was too be as funny or quirky as earlier Burton works. I do like your idea though. ;-)
 
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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 …
review by . May 02, 2011
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, …
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!
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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)
2007

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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Details

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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