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on December 23, 2007
Although critics have been almost unanimous in their praise of this film, many fans of the show are quite harsh in their appraisal, chiefly for two reasons - one, that the principals are not great singers, and two, the deletion of roughly 50% of the score. I surprised myself in that, having purchased the soundtrack and seen the movie, I am in neither camp, as either of these factors might heretofore have caused me to pronounce most film adaptations of almost any Broadway musical a failure. Instead, I am thrilled far beyond my expectations with this production.

It might not have been so, had I not had so much respect for Stephen Sondheim. As part of the pre-release publicity, he has granted an unusual (for him) number of interviews, and says that he is unequivocally satisfied with Tim Burton's vision. As anyone who appreciates his high level of artistic integrity will agree, Mr. Sondheim would not give praise to this project if he were not satisfied with it. At 77, Stephen Sondheim is considered by many to be the greatest composer in the history of the American theatre, and I have followed him long enough to know that no amount of financial consideration could cause him to declare his endorsement if he were not truly happy with the finished film.

I have listened carefully to what Mr. Sondheim has had to say in those recent interviews, and now understand why so many stage musicals previously transferred to celluloid haven't worked. To begin with, time passes very differently in a theatre than it does on film. That which takes several minutes in a Broadway theatre (i.e. a full-blown production number) is apt to seem like a small eternity on screen. Therefore, the very thing that keeps most audiences clamoring for more in live theatre is apt to make many movie audiences run screaming from the auditorium. Then there is the problem of what Alfred Hitchcock once termed "suspension of disbelief"; that is, in real life, no one ever bursts into song during one of life's dramatic moments, no less accompanied by a full orchestra, and many moviegoers who are accustomed to a certain amount of reality therefore find musical films particularly hard to take. Thanks to some of the theories on musical film voiced by Mr. Sondheim in the past week or so, I finally understand why so many previous attempts to film Broadway musicals fall flat - in short, the theatre and film are two entirely different mediums, with two entirely different audiences. Although many theatre lovers, myself included, would be happy to sit through an entire musical transferred to screen exactly as produced on stage, most movie audiences demand something different. And something different is what they surely get with Sweeney Todd.

Then there is the score. Tim Burton has said that he has been a fan of Sweeney Todd since its original run. I believe that, as disappointing as it is for many fans to accept how much of the score has been cut, it was probably even more agonizing for Mr. Burton to decide what pieces to remove. The original ran over three hours, and at least 75% of the story was sung, making Sweeney Todd one of the few genuine operas to ever come out of Broadway. The film runs only 117 minutes and, judging by the length of the soundtrack CD (a mere 72 minutes) easily 40% of the score has been removed, chiefly the ensemble pieces. Mr. Burton apparently judged (probably correctly) that the choral numbers which worked so well on stage, although containing some of the wittiest lyrics, would be clunky and ponderous on film, and he made the prudent (if, I'm sure, difficult) decision to let them go. This is likely to be the sorest point for many fans of the show. And had I not been paying careful attention to Mr. Sondheim's recent interviews, I may not have been able to get past that point myself.

But what has been excised is more than compensated for in Mr. Burton's sumptuous visuals and careful attention to detail. Although Mr. Sondheim has made changes to the lyrics, resolving previously problematic portions of the score and actually improving it, it's amazing how much of what is left of the score is faithful to the original. Though it's a tragic story, Sweeney Todd remains in essence a dark comedy, and many of Mr. Burton's finer touches, especially the staging of the musical numbers, have enhanced the story to the point where I have hardly missed the deletions, and I speak as someone who has loved this piece in almost all of its previous renderings.

And I admit that, although he has never been a particular favorite of mine, Johnny Depp is a revelation. Without detracting from previous interpreters of the role (especially Len Cariou and George Hearn), Mr. Depp's evocation of the character is so fully fleshed out, and so filled with genuine pathos and sympathy, that I was able to immediately excuse the fact that he is not a seasoned vocalist. Besides, to reiterate a point made earlier, this is not Broadway, and there is no need for his voice to reach the back of the house. If anything, the fact that the principal characters are not great singers actually enhances the realistic feel of the film. It is also a pleasure to have both Toby and Anthony (not to mention Joanna) played by actors of the appropriate age, and hear accents that actually invoke pre-Victorian London.

In the end however, the real star (to me, anyway) is the superlative score by Stephen Sondheim. I am not amazed that some feel that there are no "memorable songs" in the score. Good music should be subtle; the absence of "catchy tunes" that one will whistle on the way out of the theatre is only indicative to me of the high quality of the score. Anyone who is previously unfamiliar with Sweeney Todd who doesn't "get it" is urged to purchase the soundtrack (the full version, with the complete libretto included) and follow along with the words and music as the songs are sung. The first thing you will realize is (as with any of Mr. Sondheim's works, whether they be in a film, the theatre, or any other medium) how incredibly witty and sophisticated his lyrics are; on first listen you are apt to miss most of his delicious wit. His use of the English language, his clever rhymes, and above all, his intelligent, deft semantics will amaze anyone who cares to take the time to listen. There are reasons why so many consider Sondheim the foremost composer of the theatre, and so many intelligent theatergoers hang on his every word. But just as important as his words (and I have always admired Sondheim's ability to use words above all else that I treasure in the world of musical theatre), you will find, especially if you listen long and hard enough, that his delicate, subtle music will, in time, work its way into your heart and conscience as some of the most beautiful music ever composed. This is NOT top-forty pop music, the type that is so often mistaken for excellence in theatre these days. In his ballads especially, Sondheim writes genuine, heartfelt gorgeous melodies; that is, real music. Once you open your heart and mind to Sondheim's glorious words and sumptuous airs, you may just become a fan for life.
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on March 31, 2008
An R rated musical about a vengeful barber who kills his victims only to serve them up as meat pies must've made the studio a little nervous to bankroll a big budget adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's award-winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Although, they must've been reassured that Tim Burton would be helming the project with his long-time collaborator Johnny Depp stepping in to play Todd. Burton, with his affinity for all things dark and gothic (see The Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition) and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (Widescreen Edition)), seems like an obvious choice to take on such dark subject matter and Sondheim agreed, giving the filmmaker his blessing.

The first disc has a featurette entitled, "Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd." Tim Burton had always been a fan of Stephen Sondheim's musical and had contemplated a film version for years. Helena Bonham Carter was also a fan and had always wanted to play Mrs. Lovett. Burton liked the idea of her and Depp as this "weird" couple. The director and his leading man talk about their long-standing relationship in this excellent featurette.

The second disc starts off with the "Sweeney Todd Press Conference, November 2007" which features Burton, producer Richard Zanuck and his main cast answering questions from the press. Not surprisingly, Burton and Depp tend to dominate the bulk of the questions. Both men are very charming and joke good naturedly with each other.

"Musical Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd" features Sondheim talking about the origins of his take on Sweeney Todd and what drew him to the story. He also talks about how he adapted it into a musical and speaks eloquently about the story and the predominant theme of revenge.

"Sweeney's London" provides historical background to 18th and 19th century London including the social and economical conditions with historians talking about how harsh life was back then. This is fascinating stuff and excellent insight the world that acts as a backdrop to the story.

"The Making of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" takes a look at how the film came together. This is a pretty standard promotional featurette that mixes cast and crew soundbites with clips from the film. It covers a lot of ground already depicted in other featurettes.

"Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition" examines the tradition of Grand Guignol or horror theatre that came out of France. Academic types trace its origins, define its characteristics, and illustrate how Sweeney Todd fits into this tradition.

"Designs for a Demon Barber" takes a look at the costumes and set design. Burton wanted the film to look like Frankenstein (75th Anniversary Edition) (Universal Legacy Series) and resemble a kind of fable look. He explains that this is why he used sets on soundstages as opposed to actual locations.

"A Bloody Business" examines how they did the film's bloody deaths. We see Burton and his crew running tests on how to get the right bloody sprays and experiment with how to pull of the throat slashings.

"Moviefone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp" features the two men asking each other questions submitted by fans. They talk about how they met, how Depp prepared for the role, and so on.

"The Razor's Refrain" is a montage of stills and behind-the-scenes photographs from the film with excerpts of songs from the soundtrack.

Also included is a gallery of production sketches, promotional stills, and behind-the-scenes photos.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon December 29, 2007
"Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barbour of Fleet Street" will surprise a LOT of movie-goers. It's a musical about a London barbour who is wronged and returns home looking for revenge.

I'm usually skeptical of film remakes of musicals. Being a fan of Tim Burton was enough to get me through the door. I am really glad I saw it. This is a very good movie that will satisfy a very wide audience, including those unfamiliar with the original musical as well as it's loyal fans.

DISCLAIMER: Not for younger kids or squeemish adults. This is one R rating that is well deserved.

First and foremost, this movie is worth seeing in the theatres. I expected this version to be even less "musical" than it was. Surprisingly, it is VERY true to the original musical, with almost all the original Steven Sondheim score re-sung by the modern cast. Musically, the songs and score are all well done and add to the theatre experience.

Visually, Sweeney Todd is STUNNING. This version is MUCH BETTER than any other previous version. Tim Burton has created a dark and dingy London that deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for almost every technical category. The black and white backdrop make the bright colors stand out when they are used. Color is used artistically and powerfully, as you'll see. :)

The actors will also attract some die hard fan groups. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter have some very different fan bases, but I think both will be satisfied and surprised by the performances. In fact the whole cast does wonderfully, and the director no doubt had something to do with that.

This is also another movie where I will be looking forward to the HD DVD. Hoping for a wealth of deleted / extended scenes and "making of" featurettes. As for the soundtrack, I plan on buying it today.

Go see this movie. You will buy the DVD. And the soundtrack may be on your shopping list soon too. There's a full version, and a "Highlights" version without the background tracks.
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street Deluxe - Complete Edition
Sweeney Todd Soundtrack Highlights

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on February 22, 2008
Ever since Moulin Rouge re-energized the then malignant musical genre, we have just been assaulted by a slew of hit Broadway Musicals turned big screen show stoppers, from the highs (Chicago) to the lows (The Producers). And while Dreamgirls was very well done, it really just buckled under its own pressure and did not live up to my expectations. But for 2007, musicals hit an all time high when not one, not two, but three well done films were released. In the Summer, we were treated to the feel good Hairspray. In the Fall, we then experienced the fantasy that was Across the Universe. And finally, they toped of the year with an all time high with Sweeney Todd- The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, one of the best musical adaptations in recent years.

For those familiar with the Broadway play, we are shown the story of the vengeful Benjamin Parker, who for fifteen years has been paying for a crime he did not commit, wrongfully accused by the wicked Judge Tulpin. Now, he has returned to London, with a new name and a thirst for vengence. Aided by his former landlady Mrs. Lovett, he cuts a bloody path across 19th century London in his ulitmate quest for revenge against those who have wronged him.

First off, Tim Burton could not have been a better choice to bring this tale to the big screen. Already one of the biggest directors out right now and a sheer genious of quirky, dark films, there really was no other contender that could have done the job he did. Here, he brings his best work since Ed Wood. The atmosphere, the costumes, the settings, everything just not only screams Burton but also keeps the vision of Stephen Sondheim alive and well. And usually i'm not a person who squirms easily but some of the throat slashings really did just make me shiver slightly in my seat, something I do not experience a lot even with some of the goriest or scariest horror films, so bravo to Burton for letting the blood fly (and believe me, there is a lot).

Now, at first I was a bit apprehensive about Johnny Depp playing Sweeney Todd, cause until then I had no idea he could sing. But luckily, my fears were put to rest as soon as he stepped on screen. As Sweeney, he glowers, he sings, he kils, just once again submerging himself into yet another unique character. Helena Bonham Carter also proves her own as Todd's acomplice, delivering comic wit at just the right time and holding her own on the screen next to Depp and as for Alan Rickman, he just completly took me by surprise. To see the guy most people know as Professor Snape just being up there and singing is just a bit of a shock but he definently pulled it off. And for those who groan over the singing, I mean come on! These are not professional Broadway singers people! So its expected they wouldn't be on par with those who originally played the cast.

I was very dissapointed that this film did not get the realy recognition by the Academy as it should have, especially for Best Picture and Director. But then again, this was a pretty tough year, full of a lot of great films, so the fact it sort of got lost in the shuffle to the likes of heavy hitters like No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood. But at least Depp got his just reward with a Best Actor nod.

Definently one of the best films of 2007, Sweeney Todd is a must see for moviegoers but if you are not a fan for musicals, this will most likely not be your taste of film. However, if your a fan or loved the Broadway play, the film will surely not dissapoint.
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I must begin by saying that I saw Sweeney with the original cast on Broadway in 1979. I was 14 years old...thanks Mom and Dad for being so progressive!! This musical (and Sondheim) has been my favorite ever since. Anyway I did have certain preconceived notions about this when I heard it was being made into a movie by Tim Burton. I used to really love Burton, but lately well, not so much. I had visions of Goldberg-esge staging and typical Burton visuals. Burton can't seem to let go of pale-faced dark-eyed make-up, and bit of machinery-gear-type props, but otherwise, he did a great job getting away from this.

I am not going to tell the entire plot because (to quote Sondeim): "what happens then, well that's the play and he wouldn't want us to give it away...not Sweeney..."

Anyway, I bought this and actually hesitated for a week before watching it. I was afraid my great experiences with the story would be forever tainted. But, nevertheless, I began. I heard the overture during the opening credits and was very excited that it was performed with an orchestra and lush arrangement (rather than electric guitars or something.) I saw the opening scene (missing the opening ensemble song) and braced myself for Depp's singing. However, when I heard Depp begin, I was pleasantly surprised. See, my first experience with Sweeney was Len Cariou. He played it similarly to Depp. He was not so much over the top, evil-incarnate; but more quiet, vengeful, sorrowful, and wronged. Cariou is also on the original cast-recording, which is available here on Amazon (Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979 Original Broadway Cast) and very good!) The DVD I have of the stage-production (Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Broadway) (Snap Case)) stars George Hearn who plays the part a little harder, a little angrier. I prefer the softer, more pitiful Sweeney; the villian needs to show a real motivation, Depp makes him real. This works with the score as the music isn't violent-crazy. It has more of an undercurrent of "something is going to happen"or "someone peering around the corner." A thriller--not a slasher. Cariou's voice and body were more large and haunting than Depp's, but for the feeling itself, Depp seems to have captured it.

Helena Bonham Carter has taken the Angela Lansbury role of Mrs. Lovett. Well, any theater fan knows these are huge shoes to fill. She tries, her voice isn't bad, it just is so diminutive. Mrs. Lovett is not a diminutive character! If you haven't heard it, you must listen to "the Worst Pies in London" by Lansbury. She is fantastic; she nearly steals the show with this song alone; no comparison to Carter. Carter does seem to come alive more as the film continues, plays her version of Lovett well, and does have a nice devious-ness to her! Her interpretation of the character, indeed makes you look at her a different, but effective way. Johanna's song (though shorter) is wonderfully performed in this version. I actually loved the orginal singer, but it was quite operatic; this portrayal was much more accessible. Anthony is also very good in the movie version (played by Jamie Campbell Bower.) Compared to original cast, he seemed younger and very appropriate for the naive, young-lover character. Pirelli (Baron-Coen) is also surprizingly good in the film. Great casting jobs all around.

I am not sure why they changed Lucy's role to not-quite-as-crazy. Toby was also less "witted" in the stage version, this one was just younger. Maybe not PC anymore to have a mentally-challenged stereotyped character (which isn't a bad thing.) Judge Turpin and the Beadle's roles were slightly different in the stage version (they had a wonderful duet!), but Rickman indeed plays a convincing antagonist (I will always associate him fondly with the movie "Die Hard.")

They did a great job with the "A little Priest" even though the switch to comic-relief is a little more effective in a live performance (you get to hear the audience laughing.) There is wonderful orchestration throughout the whole movie, I am so happy they didn't try to reduce it to a bunch of some pop songs and or add some new Top-40 ballad. I do miss the workers' whistle and I sorely miss my favorite ensemble..."Attend the tale of sweeney todd, his skin was pale and his eye was odd..." but understand why it probably would not work in the movie. I would have liked to hear it over the end credits.

I understand that this is not a movie-version of the stage play, it is a movie ~based~ on the the theater play. Still, it is quite similar and it is interesting to compare and appreciate the differences in the two versions. If you have never seen the stage-version or listened to the original cast recording; you owe it to yourself to buy or rent them. If you have never heard of Sweeney Todd before this film, I think you will enjoy this version of the dark tale.

I like the 2-disk set as it contains (besides the feature film) interviews with Sondheim, "making of" feature, history of the story, special effects discussion, and info on the original stage productions.

Burton has completely redeemed himself for me with this film. I hope that maybe some folks who think live-theater is not for them, will (after viewing this DVD) give it another chance and raise expectations of its future (I think we have had enough Disney-movie re-hashings, just my opinion.)

Sorry this got long, but I really love the musical, and was a doubter about the film. I hoped I could convice others to give it a chance. I gave the film 5 stars out of 5 because they stayed true to the story and the music, for how they reimagined the play for film, but mostly for Depp's surprisingly fine performance. I am going to watch it again, right now! You will get your money's worth with this DVD.
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VINE VOICEon December 29, 2007
I've never seen `Sweeney Todd' before. Touted in high school and offstage by Angela Lansberry who played Mrs. Lovett and lovingly reminisced over her role in an interview, I decided to take a pass. The thought of a musical about the bloody (demon) barber of Fleet Street seemed too unsavory and too discordant. Excerpts showed its potential audience scenes with beautiful music matched with too much gore. I kept picturing something like murder done to Rossini's "Barber of Seville;" something that seemed like a bizarre and comic mismatch. Trying to bring a `Green Eggs and Ham' (sorry) mentality to the cinema, I did get a shock; more than one to be exact. Somehow it all came together.

Here's why. First of all, Tim Burton, the dark director who gave us 'Batman' and wrote `The Nightmare Before Christmas' was the perfect choice for this musical. The close up shots, the editing, the timing, the wide angles, and the zooming in and out are done to perfection. The macabre atmosphere is perfectly framed without dwelling too long on any one image or scene. In terms of cinematography, I kept thinking of Carol Reed's `Oliver' for getting every frame nearly perfect. Secondly, Johnny Depp's performance is right on. I was expecting the dark side of Johnny Depp--or Jack Sparrow without laughs. This is only partly true. Depp comes to the screen in his own right, creating a familiar, but decidedly different leg in his acting ability. There's the same confidence, but a real, seething vengeance in his performance. He's not a bad singer, either. Certainly, we need just enough of a character voice, which, unsurprisingly, he can do.

The story entails class warfare that I can only describe as the British equivalent of The French Revolution done in miniature. Benjamin Barker (bka Sweeney Todd) is given short shrift by the aristocracy in power. Judge Turpin's (Alan Rickman) unjust sentence takes his dignity away, and his daughter, Johanna, is Turpin's captive love interest. Keeping a long arm is Turpin's weasel servant Beedle (Timothy Spall).

At a traveling elixir show, Todd shows his shaving prowess in a wagered stage contest. Once he wins against Italian purveyor, Perelli (Sacha Baron Cohen, 'Borat'), he gains an enemy as well as a boost in his barber livelihood. The barber of Fleet Street finds his supply of razors his method of revenge. In the meantime, his love interest, Mrs. Lovett, downstairs has a pie shop, including a most bizarre method of recycling corpses released from Sweeney Todd's trap door upstairs.

The supporting cast effectively flanks Depp, including Helena Bonham Carter, who gives us someone both steely and sensitive enough to play the part as Mrs. Lovett. Turpin's and Beedle's villainy are given just the right touch to ally our sympathies with Todd. Again, the timing is awesome for building up such arrogant and loathsome antagonists from the Victorian Era.

While I may prefer the class warfare as it's espoused by Charles Dickens and Ray Davies, I have to take the tale as is. And, as it is, it's a remarkably powerful musical voyage through a dark and grisly chapter of vengeance. I must also note that, although 'Sweeney Todd' is by no means new, it is a part of this year's trend toward cutthroat violence at the cinema. ('Eastern Promises' comes to mind.) Finally, listening to the music, not only do the songs blend, but they add suspense to the story. Any way you look at it, it's quite a feat.
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VINE VOICEon December 23, 2007
As a longtime fan of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," I've been looking forward to this movie for ages. I was not at all disappointed.

"Sweeney Todd" is an amazing film, and it's almost an exact replica of the Broadway show, which made me very happy. The story is about Benjamin Barker, a.k.a. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp), a barber who returns to London after being wrongly imprisoned for 15 years for a crime he did not commit. Benjamin was sent away as a result of Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), an evil man who was in love with Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly), Benjamin's wife, and wanted her for herself. When Benjamin/Sweeney returns to town, he is informed by Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) that his wife is dead and that the judge has taken Johanna (Jayne Wisener), Benjamin's daughter. Sweeney is determined to get revenge on the judge, and he devises a plan with Mrs. Lovett that involves slaying patrons in his reestablished barber shop and sending their bodies down a chute to the basement of Mrs. Lovett's pie shop, where she grinds up the dead to bake into her meat pies.

Obviously, this is a very dark film, and I don't think anyone could have done a better job with it than Tim Burton. He remained very true to the musical version and did an excellent job of bringing this gory tale to the big screen. The music is phenomenal, although I was slightly disappointed that the "The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd" wasn't performed at all (but the music from the song is used throughout the film). Depp's performance as the homicidal barber is by far the best part of this film. I think this may be Depp's finest work to date, and it is definitely Oscar-worthy. (Who knew Jack Sparrow could sing so well?!) Rickman is perfectly cast in the role of the judge, and Sacha Baron Cohen is fantastic in a small but hilarious role as Sweeney's rival barber, Pirelli.

The only performance that I was slightly disappointed with was Bonham Carter's. I've always been a big fan of hers, and it took me a while to warm up to her subtle interpretation of Mrs. Lovett. It could be that I'm being too hard on her and comparing her to Angela Lansbury's brilliant performance in the original Broadway production of "Sweeney Todd," but even so, I think Bonham Carter could have done a bit more with the role, and her singing voice wasn't all that impressive. However, she did improve as the film went on, and she had some very comical moments, especially in the dream sequence depicting Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney at the sea, which is by far the funniest part of the entire movie.

Another gripe I have about the movie is that the ending is very abrubt. It would have been nice to include an epilogue of sorts to let the audience know what happens to the other characters.

Overall, despite a few very tiny flaws, "Sweeney Todd" is absolutely sensational. Those of you with weak stomachs may not appreciate all the blood and gore, but this is a movie about a serial killer barber, so what else do you expect? I highly recoomend this film!
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on April 5, 2008
Going into Sweeney Todd I did not know any of the back story. I've heard of the musical just didn't know specifics. Being a fan of the horror genre I found Sweeney Todd to be a slasher/fanasy/musical/drama film (notice the slashes) baked with dark humor and bright red blood Argento style that is fueled by longing and revenge. That pretty much sums it up. I'd go as far as to say this could be in with the top slasher films because Sweeney Todd starts with the purpose of revenge and then spirals out of control to the point where no one is safe from his blade.

The story is about an honest barber, Benjamin Barker, who is wrongfully imprisoned by, Judge Turpin, because he wanted to take advantage of Barker's pretty wife. With the help of a sailor, Barker returns to London years later eager to exact revenge on the judge who caused him the loss of his wife and daughter.

When Todd returns to his old home he is informed by Mrs. Lovett (who owns a shop below Todd's old apartment and sells the worst meat pies in all of London) that his wife was defiled, humiliated, and as a result took poison. She also informs him that Judge Turpin adopted Todd's daughter as his own. Soon after, Lovett shows him to his blades which she kept hidden all these years for his return. He then rises inspired not as Benjamin Barker, honest barber, but Sweeney Todd the demon barber of fleet street.

Lovett longs for Todd, Todd longs for his family, Turpin longed for Todd's wife and now daughter, Todd's daughter a captive in Turpin's house longs for freedom and ironically the sailor who helped Todd, and the sailor longs for her as well. Oh, I almost forgot the little gin drinking boy who comes to be Lovett's helper now that her shop is thriving with a new meatier recipe; he longs for Lovett. I think I might have carried on too long.

CGI has it's critics and can look pretty fake. Initially I felt Sweeney Todd looked unreal however my mind soon changed. The reason I forgot about it is because in Tim Burton's films he isn't trying to re create anything. Burton has his own visions, then invites the viewer in, where we soon get caught up in the world he's created.

This was one of Burton's best and one of the best to come out of 2007. Johnny Depp was great as was the supporting cast: Alan Rickman (Judge Turpin), Timothy Spall (Beatle Bumford), Sacha Baron Cohen (Signor Adolfo Pirelli); however it is Helen Bonham Carter who steals the show here with her portrayal of Mrs. Lovett.
[4.5 Stars]

SPECIAL FEATURES (from the back of the dvd)
Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd: A behind the scenes look at the collaboration of Tim Burton with Johnny Depp and Helen Bonham Carter featuring exclusive footage from rehearsals, recording sessions and more!
Sweeney Todd is Alive: The Real History of The Demon Barber - Musical Mayhem: Soundheim's Sweeney Todd -Sweeney's London - The Making of Sweeney Todd - Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition - Designs for a Demon Barber - A Bloody Business - Moviefone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp - And more
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VINE VOICEon February 21, 2008
Tim Burton: Hollywood's undisputed champion of gothic horror.
Sweeney Todd: a psycho barber and famous purveyor of dodgy pies.
Hmmmm... what took you so long?

It was screamingly obvious what a gorgeous team they would make. Rarely have we seen a film director so perfectly matched to a musical. And the black magic begins when Johnny Depp's white-faced Sweeney steals up the Thames at the dead of night. As the boat slips under a spooky London Bridge it becomes quite clear that Burton was put on earth to shoot this glorious melodrama.

The film unfolds like the Grimmest of fairy tales. Depp's bitter Sweeney returns to London after 15 years of hurt. His painful story emerges in hollow songs with haunting off-key melodies. He wears his grievances like armour. His plan to murder the men who condemned him to a penal colony in order to rape his wife hinges around the dismal apartment above Mrs Lovett's ailing pie shop. The atmosphere is vintage Hammer Studios. The gleaming monochrome shots of cobbled streets are drained of color. Effectively overwrought and excellent, Sweeney Todd is a movie of bombastic, impossible camera moves and rhapsodic yuckiness. Burton can't resist filling the screen with scuttling vermin or surges of splatterific violence.

Depp's Sweeney is a fiery-eyed, razor-brandishing cadaver with a mad Pagliacci glare. Bonham Carter is comparably corpse-like--a matched composition in bird-nest hairdo, death-pallor complexion, and heavily shadowed eyes. The musical chemistry between Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's genial cockney pie shop mistress is terrific. Sondheim approved the casting, and, surprisingly, Depp has a pleasing, if untrained, tenor. Alongside Bonham Carter's sweetly tentative voice, the numbers are inventively staged. Especially the cannibal waltz "A Little Priest" and the grotesquely wistful "By the Sea". Lovett's unreciprocated passion for Sweeney is the heart of the film and her bright idea of stuffing Sweeney's clients into meat pies seems almost perfectly sensible under the circumstances.

The film's pace is a surprise. Burton has pruned Sondheim's arias to fit the tempo of a real thriller -- brilliant editing - and the villains are far less stocky. Yes, the ghoulishly attractive couple is supported by a suitable gang of gargoyles; Sacha Baron Cohen delivers a priceless cameo as a jealous unisex rival with plans to blackmail Sweeney. Alan Rickman is a sinister pleasure as Judge Turpin. And Timothy Spall is equally effective as his ultra-violent slithery enforcer, Beadle Bamford.

Burton has never been one to spare the gore. The sound of skulls cracking open when Sweeney tosses his victims head first into the basement is not for the faint-of-heart. The director's knack of finding comedy in these ghastly scenes is tested to the limit. And the haunting final shot of the film, the details of which we must keep to ourselves so not to spoil the plot, is a masterful shot, painterly in its composition of framing, detail, and color.

There is so much that can be said about Sweeney Todd, but we must insist that you stop reading and simply experience this wonderous film for yourself. A mad serial killer, a helpful, adoring woman, a vile judge, and a barber's chair - all elements that combine to form much more than this simple review can encapsulate. It is masterful cinema, art and entertainment, vision and sound combined for a truly riveting experience.
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on January 3, 2008
This is for certain the most unique and refreshing film I can recall in quite some time. Initially a 19th century urban legend, the story has been applied time and time again in different mediums, including of course the hit Broadway musical. There was a commendable recent film adaptation made for television of the story with Ben Kingsley starring in the title role as well. Tim Burton's version titled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a direct adaptation of the musical and stars long time Tim Burton collaborator Johnny Depp as the legendary anti-hero. It also stars Tim Burton's real life girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. The supporting cast is absolutely outstanding with Alan Rickman playing the film's horrible antagonist Judge Turpin and Timothy Spall playing his toady. Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) is a hilarious stand-out as one of Todd's early rivals in the film. Newer names to look out for in the cast include Jamie Campbell Bower, Jayne Wisener, and especially Edward Sanders.

Suffice to say, there is much to reveal in this film and so much is better left unsaid for the sake of surprise, especially for those not familiar with the story. It's a gutsy production for two reasons. First, it's a musical and second, more throats are slit in this film than any I can recall. Those two facts really seem to narrow the gap in terms of audience appeal. On one hand, it might be fair to assume that the demographic marching like zombies to see shallow gorno like the Saw movies would, for most part, not be the least bit interested in seeing a musical. In fact, I went to see this film with my police officer friend who wanted to see the new alien vs. predator movie, what a shame it was sold out as that may have been a far less challenging review to write. On the other side of that coin, the people who may typically be drawn to a musical may find the violence a bit off putting. I was surprised first to see that the film was a musical (shame on me that I didn't even know) and next that the film was a heavy R-rating due to excessive throat slitting or as they say in the marketing initiatives for some films today, pervasive sequences of violent bloody gore and constant maiming. The music actually adds well to the expressions of the characters and is used as a tremendous advantage while the blood, albeit certainly less important, serves to make the film visually shocking and surreal. Nevertheless, the two worlds come together and click together. However, it is a fantastic film for many reasons far beyond its generally unique existence.

Firstly, Depp and Carter are both incredible and deserving of their recent Golden Globe nominations (the film has four in all including also Best Picture for a Musical/Comedy and Tim Burton for direction). Many will say it is just Depp's time to win an Oscar and I would imagine he will be nominated for that as well and he may even win, but it won't be because of his lack of the award despite a consistently engaging and unique career. In other words, this isn't Depp's Scent of a Woman. His turn as Sweeny Todd is absolutely his very best performance. His facials expressions are mean but inviting and he helps to make you sympathize with his character despite the horrible acts of brutality he commits. Todd is played as if his one and only goal is revenge. He also sings surprisingly well. He is like a crooner with an attitude. And to think that Carter almost upstages him as Mrs. Lovett, seemingly an equally wrought character who finds love in the eyes of a man driven by bloodlust alone.

However, Tim Burton's direction is the train and the cast is just along for the ride. Depp and Carter's performances are fueled in part by the depth to which they understand or trust Tim Burton's robust imagination and actually try to exist within his demonic and stunning vision of London. The scenes that rain blood during happy songs gave me this unique sort of feeling of fear, disgust, and satisfaction that Todd was able to finally release his welled-up anger or that Mrs. Lovett was able to finally make a decent meat pie. All I could do was muster up a nervous laugh and think a little bit about what I was actually watching. I will say with definite certainty that Burton had an immense passion for this story and to tell it on his terms. He has only strayed from that perspective a few times in his career and it is nice to see him do work like this. Burton is shaping up to be one of the greatest directors of our time and in my view among his many films, Sweeny Todd is the tallest tree in a forest of trees taller than most.

I found great pleasure in watching this movie. It is relieving to see a film that cost $50 Million be so uniquely twisted and surreal. It is a risk and I hope it pays off so we can see something as equally beautiful and experimental get the resources and care behind it again. If there is a flaw here it is the same flaw that exists in all of Burton's movies. He always prioritizes style over substance. This is a visual movie first and foremost but it isn't by coincidence that the film also has heart.
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