Photobucket“A bloody good film!”

_ Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street _ Title: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

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Tim Burton has a way with directing that places him in a class all his own. The little things he adds put his signature all over a project. If you even consider bringing the stage musical of Sweeney Todd to the big screen, and want it to work, there is no better man for the task. Burton’s sense of “macabre as art” is necessary to elevate what would be a simple blood bath with singing, into an artistic and, well, enjoyable movie experience. Add to the mix his two favorite ingredients, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter and you have the recipe for perfection. But as they say, the proof is in the pudding or in this case the meat pie. So does it serve up a must see film for the Holidays? Yes, though many will decline seconds.

Sweeney Todd (Depp) is a man preoccupied with revenge. When he returns to London to seek out the people who tore his family apart, his bitterness turns him into a heartless killer. A barber by trade he sets up shop over Mrs. Lovette’s (Helena Bonham Carter) meat pie shop where the two twisted minds start a grotesque business venture while Todd plots his revenge. Like any unforgiveness left unchecked Todd’s festers until he is totally consumed with vengeance. It controls him and manipulates his every action. Yet all of this happens while everyone is singing. Go figure.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is based on the Broadway musical and stays true to the genre. Ninety percent of all the dialogue comes in the form of a song. This may hinder many from enjoying another classic from Burton. But the songs and performances are what make Sweeney Todd stand out from other typical slasher stories. There is something about the music and the singing that make it bearable. Todd is a warped individual and many times words sung evoke more emotion than when simply spoken. In conjunction, the spurting blood becomes part of the dance. It adds flavor and color to the mix.

Depp has proven himself through out his career as a character actor who creates personable roles. Like Burton, Depp has a way of endearing you to the most detestable persons. Here he has to do that while singing. And he pulls it off. At first it was a little odd. It took me a few scenes to warm up to the crooning Depp. But once I knew he was serious I took him serious and was onboard the rest of the way through. Even better was Helena Bonham. Carter was amazing and combines vocal depth with comfortable character creation. You forget she is singing as her movements and delivery is smooth and fluid. She isn’t acting and then singing. It is seamless in its transitions. The two combine to make the musical to movie transformation succeed. Not an easy task.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is rated R for graphic bloody violence. All three of those words are prominent in this film. We aren’t talking Hairspray here. This film is dark and sinister and graphic. The imagery is as powerful as the music and lyrics. It is an important element to the feel of the film. This is not one for the squeamish. Other than that the film is tame on all fronts. You will find no adult language save for a couple of very mild expletives. Fans of Depp will enjoy this new endeavor and Burton followers will not walk away feeling slighted. The only issue you have to deal with is the singing. If you hate musicals then you will not enjoy this. You can’t overlook the singing. You can’t put it aside and rely on the remaining parts to sustain you.

As much as I enjoyed this film and recommend it for fans of the Broadway version or musicals in general, I am not sure I would see it again. I loved every moment of the experience and I may change my mind later but for now I am satisfied with the single sampling. I give Todd 4 out of 5 thumb nails.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(12/21/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2007 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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