Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I thought this film was very hit and miss. I liked the look and feel of the settings and I liked the idea of the story but i think Tim Burton's execution of the story wasn't that great.

The plot basically is: (1800s I think) Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) returns to London after serving time in prison in Australia for 15 years on a trumped up charge. Benjamin once was happily married to his wife Lucy, and she had just given birth to a child. A Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) was in love with Lucy and had Benjamin beaten and arrested for no reason, then sent to Australia. Judge takes Benjamin's wife and child. The wife gets poisoned and the child is kept against her will. Benjamin returns and finds out that his wife was murdered and vows to take revenge on the Judge. Benjamin was a barber once, he gets his old blades back and he plans on killing the judge with his little "friends" as he call them. He also changes his name to Sweeney Todd. Sounds friggin cool in theory. And if you add the ending to this the idea of this story is really good.

Do you like musicals? Would you sit through a musical slasher? It wouldn't be impossible to make one. The thing is that the story is really great and all, but i just really hated the damn singing. I've seen one or two musicals. By one or two I actually mean only two that I remember well. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" by Howard Hawks, and "West Side Story" by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Now these are classics, which might make comparing them to classics harsh. But if you want to make a good musical this is what you're up against and you've got to deliver, especially in this day and age where they aren't appreciated as much I think. I really liked the song and dance routines in these two movies. They were great to listen to, and they really contributed to the overall story in a meaningful way. In Sweeney Todd however, Helena Bonham Carter sings about her mince pies (no not her eyes) for about five minutes, without adding much to the story. I thought that about most of the songs.

The gory, slasher bits also went on for ages without much creativity. Sweeney misses the chance to kill the Judge and just decides to kill lots of people instead: the aristocrats for exploiting the poor, and the poor to relieve them of their misery. What a nice guy. Sweeney lures them into his barber shop and slits their throats then dumps their bodies in the basement for making lovely mince pies with. Nellie bakes them. The slashing just goes on for too long without much creativity.

I did like the settings though. His settings in most of his movies are very good. Johnny Depp is always good. Helena Bonham Carter was good. I loved her acting in Fight Club. The story is great in theory. The ending was fantastic. The singing just really pissed me off.

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