Thursday, December 13, 2007

Review: Sweeney Todd

Hey, are you in the mood for a really, really dark, semi-depressing musical gorefest starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's cleavage? Then Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is for you.

I just got back from a preview showing of the new flick and here are some important salient facts I learned and which I will consequently share with you:

1) This is a good movie. It pulls you in from the moment Johnny Depp with his white-streaked hair and raccoon eyes first appears on screen. There's a quiet little hiccup when he first starts singing and you're suddenly reminded, "Oh yeah, this is a musical." But almost immediately, this story of a barber driven mad by the loss of his wife and child and the horrifying acts he commits in the name of revenge will have you pinned to your seat.

2) Johnny Depp can sing. This really shouldn't be a shock because by now we all should just accept the fact that Johnny can do anything including but not limited to: flying, performing a flawless Heimlich Maneuver, building a computer from string and Scotch tape, and knitting.

3) This is a ridiculously gory movie. In fact, if Sam Peckinpah and Quentin Tarantino had a love child, it would be Tim Burton directing this movie. I'm not good with gore so I watched a good portion of it with my hands over my eyes, but as grisly as some of the images are, they're not entirely gratuitous. This is a Gothic, over-the-top Broadway spectacular -- this level of violence and the broadness with which it's portrayed seems necessary.

4) I say this as a completely heterosexual woman: Helena Bonham Carter's bosom is extraordinary.

5) I'm still not overly fond of Stephen Sondheim's work, and I feel quite guilty about it. I'm not saying the music isn't good. It's actually terrific music. My quibble is with his lyrics and I apologize in advance for this analogy: like Alanis Morisette, Sondheim is prone to cramming as many words as humanly possible into as small a musical phrase as possible. And while the lyrics are always endlessly witty and smart, the total effect just sounds a bit awkward to me.

6) For all you Buffy fans out there, Anthony Stewart Head makes one of those "blink and you'll miss him" cameos toward the beginning of the film. Thankfully, Giles does not get offed. I don't think I could have handled that one.

In short, this is a very dark and violent movie. At the same time, though, it's enthralling and genuinely different from anything else I've seen this year. And ultimately, it's worth the price of admission just to see and hear Johnny Depp create another unforgettable character. The dude's so good I'm surprised he has enough time to knit.


srah said...

What? Alanis crams extra words in her songs? On what planet would "We were together during a very tumultuous time in our lives" not all fit in one line? :D

amanda said...

I'm still worried about Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd. You need an incredibly strong voice to sing Todd's role, and from what I've seen, Depp doesn't have the power to really make Todd as terrifying as he should be. Hell, Depp doesn't have a very strong speaking voice -- he half-whispers just about everything. Still, that's not going to keep me from going to see the movie on opening day!

Liz said...

Actually, I was surprised at how strong Depp's voice was. Granted, I've never seen the play performed on stage, but I thought he did an excellent job with the character and with the songs. He did a pretty good job scaring me -- there was very, very little of the usual Depp/Burton whimsy that they put into their films. In fact, I can think of only one scene which provided a much-needed laugh and respite from the gloom. Let me know what you think about it when you see it. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts.

agent57 said...

I do want to see it, but to be honest... I'm a little sick of Depp. I mean, I still love him in a lot of stuff he's been in, but he's just... everywhere now. I was much more excited to hear Rickman voice in the trailer. And I'm glad that Giles is still in there a bit. People were thinking he might have been cut entirely, which would make me sad.