When I recently secured a spot for a screening of Tim Burton’s new film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I was elated to have the chance to see a Burton film before the masses.
See, I have been a huge Burton fan ever since I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas. And the trailers for Sweeney Todd looked as dark as ever, which is what I love about Burton’s projects. Then the day of the screening, I heard the film was nominated for four Golden Globes. This moved my excitement to the next level.
The theater was packed and people cheered before the film even started. But the ending of the film elicited much less enthusiasm. Not to say that the movie was bad, because in my opinion it was solid. This is just not a common crowd pleaser. Which leads me to my prediction for this movie: it will suffer in the theaters. The first week or two will be strong, but once enough people have seen it and talked about what kind of film it is, numbers will drop drastically.
To make one thing clear, the directing and the look of the film are classic Burton. Translation: the look and the feel are perfectly dark. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter deliver more than solid acting performances. But, with the content of Sweeney Todd being almost all musical, disappointment in the singing abilities of the two leads is bound to surface. A few songs featuring lesser-known actors such as Jamie Campbell Bower, Jayne Wisener and Ed Sanders bring back a real satisfying feel of what this musical project could have been with more strong singing talent.
For those of you that did not know, or were not told, this film is based on a musical of the same name that portrays a wrongfully punished protagonist, Benjamin Barker, who turns to a life of darkness and psychosis in his search for revenge upon those who have wronged him. He pairs up with a failing pastry chef, Mrs. Lovett, to open and run his own barbershop where he gives customers “the closest shave you’ve ever had.”
The dead bodies become a problem and, without giving anything away, they come up with a creative way of disposing of them.
The main bad guys in the film are Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) and Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall). In my opinion this evil duo stole the show. Their ability to portray such pompous and downright awful human beings jumped to the forefront of the entire movie and had me leaving talking about their performances over those of Depp and Carter.
In my opinion Sweeney Todd shaves out a B rating. The look and the feel of the film were spot on for a Burton film, but the content is something more appropriate for Broadway.
My only other big complaint was the use of blood that looked more like paint with an orange tint to it. But in that same vein, what they did do with the blood was pleasing for someone like myself who likes to see a little splatter on the screen.
This thick viscous liquid also plays a big role in the final moment of the movie, which was extremely well shot and became the brightest cinematic point of the entire flick.