Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sweeney Todd - mini-review

My oh my - I haven't seen a movie with that much blood in it since my last Tarantino/Rodriguez outing. If you can stomach the blood, go see this in the theater. It deserves to be seen larger than life and with the music swirling around you.

Burton's typically dark and twisted settings are perfect for the revenge story of a barber whose wife and daughter were stolen from him by a greedy London judge. Fifteen years after being wrongfully transported, the barber returns to reap vengeance. Initially frustrated in his attempts, Todd snaps and murders folk at will, assisted by his neighbor and landlady who bakes the bodies into her meat pies.

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd is fabulous, inhabiting that dark soul fully and singing his little heart out. At the moment when Todd succumbs to the madness he was attempting to hold at bay, I remember coming out of the movie a little to think, "He better get nominated for a Best Actor come Oscar-time." I am a huge Depp fan - ever since his 21 Jump Street days - but he really is marvelous here. Helena Bonham Carter is her usual creepy, wonderful self as Mrs. Lovett; Alan Rickman made my skin crawl as the evil Judge Turpin. Young Toby, played by newcomer (?) Ed Sanders, has the best voice of the lot but Depp and Bonham Carter do themselves proud as non-singers.

I've never seen a stage production of Sweeney Todd (although I think my college put on a performance my senior year) and I did wish I'd been familiar with the songs: there is very little actual dialogue that is not sung so understanding the lyrics is important to understanding the story. I'm pretty sure I got the gist but folks who know the show better will have gotten nuances that I'm sure I missed.

Gore-o-phobes (Mr. Mouse, this means you) will not like this film. Devotees of the movie musical genre will not know what to do - even Little Shop of Horrors ain't nothing like this. Tim Burton afficionados may be surprised at the buckets and buckets of red heretofore unseen in TB's catalog. But if you are not in the least put off by the sanguinary decadence, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a treat.

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