Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd”

Finally saw Tim Burton’s rocking version of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” over the weekend and let me tell ya, it’s bloody good…emphasis on the bloody. Seriously, I haven’t seen this much spraying, operatic bloodletting since the first volume of “Kill Bill”, and that time, the bloodiest scenes were in black and white.

Well, not so here, amigos. Tim Burton’s bright, comic-book-red blood flows freely and often…and it couldn’t be cooler!

Johnny Depp as “Sweeney Todd” (Dec. 19, 2007)

Save for the standards “Pretty Women” and “Not While I’m Around” — which are way darker in the context of the show than they are as stand-alone songs — I wasn’t that familiar with the original musical, but wow, it’s good. Christine found some of the numbers a bit stagey and claustrophobic, but I really dug the musty intimacy of it all.

Set in and around a gloomy, beautifully dank Victorian London, the movie and the songs are as dark as can be. And while the ads make it look like quirky, Tim Burton-lite, this movie is one of the darkest things he’s done in a while.

I found the songs and humor to be funny as hell, but I should warn the uninitiated that this “Sweeney Todd” is not for the feint of heart.

Johnny Depp singing in “Sweeney Todd” (Dec. 19, 2007)
Anchoring the movie and proving once again that he can do almost anything onscreen, the always-astonishing Johnny Depp rocks in his first full-blown musical. Ditto for “Borat’s” Sasha Baron Cohen (as Depp’s hysterically oily rival, Pirelli), Alan Rickman as the villainous Judge Turpin, and the incredible little boy who plays Toby (newcomer Ed Sanders).
Johnny Depp & Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd” (Dec. 19, 2007)

But fans of the musical know that the dark heart of the show has always been that wily scene-stealer, Mrs. Lovett.

I read somewhere that Stephen Soundheim loved her character so much that he actually demanded (and got!) final approval for the casting of Mrs. Lovett. And though Helena Bonham Carter wasn’t the best singer he auditioned, she was by far the best actress. And lemme tell ya, Soundheim was right. Helena Bonham Carter is spectacular in the role.

I’ve been a huge fan since I first saw her in “A Room With A View” and Carter has continued to amaze me ever since. If you haven’t seen her in “Fight Club” you haven’t lived. Not only did she blow Brad Pitt and Ed Norton off the screen, but her twisted, manic performance as Marla Singer is one of the great screen characters of the 1990’s. Really amazing stuff!

Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd” (Dec. 19, 2007)

Here again, Ms. Carter — who gave birth Saturday to her second child, a daughter, with Tim Burton — rips into a really juicy part with a vengeance. And like her co-stars, I’m happy to report that Carter’s singing here is top notch. More traditionally Broadway-ish than Johnny Depp’s rock-infused vocals, Carter’s scrappy, Cockney-accented singing really steals the show.

And though the content of her “meat pies” would turn even my hearty stomach, I gotta say if Carter’s saucy Mrs. Lovett was selling them…I’d be the first in line!



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8 responses to “Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd”

  1. I seriously can’t wait until us laypeople can see it (opens tomorrow, right?). As a lover the stage production for years, I am certainly looking forward to it.

    I looked up the soundtrack on Amazon and discovered that they didn’t cut very many songs at all. I was expecting the Tim Burton version to reduce the song count (Chicago, for example, cut a bunch, although Rob Marshall made it work). But nearly everything from the original is accounted for on the film adaptation.

  2. yeti9000

    Good to know…yeah, I thought the soundtrack was really phenomenal. But I am dying to hear what an Angela- Lansbury-Patty-Lupone-loving”Sweeney Todd” expert thinks of the movie! Let me know what you think when you see it…

  3. Melissa

    I have been DYING. This is the musical that really got me into musicals, and more importantly, into the genius that is Stephen Sondheim. Tim Burton has dropped the ball on a couple of recent films, so I’ve been nervous, but everything indicates that I’m going to be sitting in the theater grinning like an idiot. I think Dave and I are going to see this on Sunday (I hope he doesn’t fall asleep like he did when we saw a stage production a few years ago. Pretty embarrassing when you’re in the third row and the actors can see you!) and I’m practically twitching. Can’t hardly wait!

  4. Loved it! Awesome film adaptation of a great stage musical.

  5. I hated the first volume of Kill Bill: so much blood in vain…

    I’m not very keen on musicals either but I appreciate Tim Burton’s atmospheres so I think I’m going to try at all.

  6. Olivia

    I LOVE SWEENEY TODD! It is one of my favorite movies. I love Toby (Ed Sanders IX) and Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower)! They are so hot! Some of my favorite songs are Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir, Johanna, God, That’s Good!, My Friends, Green Finch and Linnet Bird….. Well- I love all of the songs! I am obsessed with the movie! SWEENEY TODD ROX!

  7. sacha

    edward sanders is my cousin and he has a sister called alice a brother called ben xx

  8. Hey, Sacha!

    Thanks for your comments. Your cousin rocks! 🙂

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