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Sweeney Todd Review

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
December 22nd, 2007

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is the latest collaboration between Director Tim Burton and Actor Johnny Depp. After seeing this blood soaked and delightfully demented musical, I had one question continuously racing through my head. What could possibly be left for the team of Burton-Depp? How can they top or follow a film with such large amounts of blood, repulsively great characters, and macabre musical numbers?

The film begins with Sweeney Todd returning back to London many years after being wrongfully imprisoned. The years have not been kind to Mr. Todd, with his lifeless complexion and long black and white hair that is styled up and out not down he resembles Frankenstein’s younger brother. The desire for revenge and the hate that currently resides in him has removed the humanity and warmth from his heart. Mr. Todd wants everyone to suffer for his pain, but especially the corrupt Judge Turpin and his faithful assistant Beadle Bamford.

Judge Turpin is played by Alan “the bad guy from Die Hard” Rickman. Mr. Rickman has a had solid career but no matter what he does he will always be best known for playing the cold blooded Hans Gruber. While Turpin isn’t as rememberable as Gruber, he is still an adequate villain. Rickman’s Turpin is especially vile when he is expressing his love for Mr. Todd’s estranged daughter, Johanna, who Judge Turpin keeps locked in one of his rooms, often spying on her through a hole in the door. Soon after Sweeney returns he meets Mrs. Lovett, who informs Sweeney that the Judge drove his beloved wife insane and imprisoned his daughter. After hearing this, Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett devise a plan for revenge where Sweeney kills his customers and Mrs. Lovett disposes of the bodies by turning them into delicious meat pies.

Tim Burton’s propensity for the morbid is perfect for the film, given the nature of the source material. Mr. Burton has his actors play their part with a large amount of fun and sleaze. Much of the film’s entertainment comes from watching the actors take such joy in playing characters with such despicable natures. Also, Burton does not skimp on the blood or the gore. Playfully bright blood dances across the screen on many occasions. While Sweeney Todd is Tim Burton’s first venture into the musical, film scores have always been a large part of his films and Mr. Burtion gives the film’s songs the proper amount of time and attention. The musical numbers are usually entertaining and never feel like an afterthought.

Johnny Depp gives another impressive performance as Sweeny Todd, again playing an offbeat character. Although, a murderous barber who has his victims turned into pies is even more off beat than usual for Mr. Depp. When Johnny sings, his voice has a necessary gruff to it that you would expect from a man whose desire for revenge is the only reason he continues to live. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have worked together so frequently with great results that you would imagine when Burton gave Depp direction for the film he would look in Johnny’s eyes and not say a word, and then Johnny would just slightly nod and go do exactly what Burton was thinking.

While many people in the audience will be anxious to see Sacha Baron Cohen as Pirelli, but it is Timothy Spall’s performance as Beadle Bamford that will be remembered. Mr. Spall’s smarmy performance constantly tests the audience’s gag reflex.

Sweeney Todd is a film that relishes its morbidity. Taking great pride in showcasing morally and often physically apprehensible characters, while smearing blood on the screen and dropping corpses down a hole into a boiler room. Sweeney Todd’s Christmas release is a bit questionable given the film’s dark elements, but its entertainment value is not.

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