Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
****1/4 out of five
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman
One cannot deny that Tim Burton is a great director, and Johnny Depp a great actor. However, the last two movies they made together prepared me for disappointment. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a pointless remake, and don’t get me started on Corpse Bride. I’m not crazy about musicals, either. I usually find them too long and boring for my liking, and coming from an intellectual snob like me, that’s really saying something. But these movie reviews don’t write themselves, and it was a long, boring musical directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, or Alvin and the Chipmunks. Sweeney Todd it is!
And what a pleasant surprise it was! Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics are clever and pleasing to the ear, a rarity in musicals. Johnny Depp’s performance reminds us why he’s one of the best actors in the business.
He can sing, too. So can most of the cast. Helena Bonham Carter’s voice is just too weak compared to the others.
My only other quibble is that the script is a mixed bag. For every surprise and moment of suspense, there’s a cheesy line that sounds like it was written by George Lucas. And I totally saw the ending coming.
Nitpicking aside, Sweeney Todd greatly exceeded my expectations. It lacks most problems of musical movies. Burton trimmed the fat and gave us a nicely-paced two-hour movie, with top notch performances, production values, and editing. I loved the movie, but I must warn you…don’t see it if you don’t like blood.