I'm not really a fan of musicals; I'll usually watch the Hollywood versions because I watch everything, but it's hard for me to connect with them. I don't really enjoy characters breaking into song and a choreographed dance for no particular reason. But when they're really well done, I tend to have some fun.
I really didn't know anything about Sweeney Todd; embarrassingly enough, my first exposure to it, was in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl. But from that point, I was looking forward to the eventual Hollywood version. Usually they're happy and light, I wanted to see something dark.
For the making of this film, you really couldn't ask for a more perfect duo of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Burton revels in the dark-side of life and gives the ugliness a unique beauty. And who else could play a homicidal-barber and make him lovable but Depp? He doesn't have a beautiful singing voice, but he gives it a rough-quality, with a smidgen of playfulness.
It was a shock how much singing there is in this film. In most musicals you can count on at least a few minutes between songs, but here they're pretty much back-to-back, non-stop throughout the film. Some of them are darkly-wonderful, mostly those done by Sweeney Todd and his partner Mrs. Lovett. But when the kids sang, I lost a lot of interest. There was a particularly horrible ditty in an annoy ing squeaky voice by Sweeney's daughter Johanna, that I could have done without. And it was creepy how much this actress looks like a young Christina Ricci. (Find another type of girl Tim!)
I guess the young couple was somehow necessary, because they offer the only glimpse of hope in this deeply dark story, but I could have done without them. Sweeney plotting his revenge against Judge Turpin, played deliciously by Alan Rickman, who stole his family and wrongly imprisoned him was the meat of the film. I loved how Sweeney is so angry with the world, that he'll slash anyone's throat unfortunate enough to sit in his barber chair. And it got even more disgustingly beautiful, when he and Mrs. Lovett turn all that extra flesh into the most coveted meat pies in all of London.
Sweeney Todd is exquisitely photographed, I loved the use of the near black and white photography, violently shocked with the reddest of blood-reds, literally spraying everywhere. I don't know if I've ever seen more blood spilled, and I loved every drop. The sets of 19th Century London, had that unique Burton-esque quality. Johnny Depp revels in his role of Sweeney Todd; I really can't imagine another actor in this part. Minus a few lame bits, this is my new favorite musical, and the best Burton film since Ed Wood.
Sweeney Todd Trailer