Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sweeney Todd Review


SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET is my favorite Tim Burton film since over a decade. After the PLANET OF THE APES remake I was really starting to lose faith in the man that brought Batman to the big screen.

Mr. Burton is back in masterwork form with SWEENEY TODD I am glad to say. I don't know about Sam, but this film took me into cinematic overload. This film is a major work of fantasy, revenge, horror, and musical art. Growing up in the '80's I never was a big fan of musicals. STAR WARS was my cup of tea, I never had any interest in that "The hills are alive...blah,blah,blah". After seeing a Broadway show in NYC, my narrow mind opened up a bit. My mind must have opened quite a bit because SWEENEY TODD was so much a musical that it had that singing while talking, and I loved every minute. Sorry I cant compare the movie with the source material from which it came. I can tell you that I would be safe to say that Burton's film does the stage musical justice, and that the film is a masterwork on its own merits.

Now to address what is even more amazing about this film. Burton has made a classic British horror movie in the vein of the old Hammer Horror movies. Another thing Tim Burton did along with Depp was that they created a character that can easily join the rouges gallery of the famous Universal monsters.

Sweeney Todd a.k.a Benjamin Barker returns to London after being sent away by Judge Turpin. He opens a barber shop above Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Shop were she sells "the worst pies in London." With the help of Mrs. Lovett, Todd tries to rid of all the people who have ever done him wrong and hopes to be reunited with his daughter, Joanna, who is now Judge Turpin's ward.

A couple last thoughts, One, please don't let a little throat cutting and blood gore be an issue, this story is much, much more than that. The second thing is that SWEENEY TODD as of right now is my favorite film of 2007. Enjoy! ~COX

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I must say that I was not sure of what I was in for when I signed on for this one. I knew from the trailers that I was excited to see it. With Burton directing & Depp starring, how could you go wrong? What I did not realize was HOW much I was going to enjoy this film. It takes film-making to a new level for me. This movie could have been made 20-30 years ago; and what I mean by that is that they do not use new methods of film-making (ie: special effects, crazy camera angles, fancy this and that, etc). It is just plain great acting, excellent singing, and wonderful writing. Why can more movies not be made like this today? Hollywood seems to over-complicate things. The simple thoughts in films are the greatest. I think of simple stories like the original Jaws & Stand By Me. If they won't do it, then maybe COX and I should.

I, like Caleb, really enjoyed & appreciated this movie. We also agree that this is probably Burton & Depp's greatest work of art thus far. Burton's classic use of blacks, whites, and subdued colors is used again here, but it also seems reinvented in a way. He uses the lighting and colors to tell the story to us, they change subtly depending on the mood. Concerning Johnny Depp, some may say how does his character of Captain Jack Sparrow get any better? Well, it simply just does. He leaves himself behind in any prior work. Did you think he could sing? The last thing I remember is "Cry Baby". If you are judging this performance based on your familiarity with that. Don't even try. This is Depp as we have never seen him before. Be prepared to be wowed.

I am not a huge fan of musicals either. When I think of a musical, I think of "The Sound of Music" or "West Side Story". This "musical" (if you want to call it that) is a different type. I was blown away by the talent of all of the actors in this, from Helena Bonham Carter to Alan Rickman to lil Ed Sanders (playing the boy, Toby). I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the songs in this film. The way that the songs overlap each other and the focus that the actors must keep truly left me awestruck. This is one reason that I very much want to see this film again. It is already a large challenge to put together an excellent film, but to have to add & direct a musical along with the movie is an enormous feat to overcome. Big props to Tim Burton & his crew on this one.

Sweeney Todd truly sits in a world of its own. I almost think that it needs its own name of genre. The songs are witty and clever. The music and lyrics bring it full circle from the beginning song to the end. In other words, this film is very well balanced from the music as well as to its story. Caleb says "This may be a perfect film", and I say "Standing ovation inside for Sweeney Todd".

I think that this movie will get all types of viewers coming its way. First, you will have the die-hard Johnny Depp fans that will bring it huge box office $$. Then you will have the Tim Burton junkies, especially the ones hooked on "The Nightmare before X-mas". This animated movie came out in 1993 and has had a very large following. The age of the viewers on this are now 14 years older and primed for this sweet flick. Furthermore, and this is a bit of a stretch, you will have some Harry Potter fans trickling in as well due to the dark mysterious tone coupled with a few familiar actors (Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, & Timothy Spall) in the same film.

I, too, have not seen the play version, so I do not have that knowledge to compare this one too. The only history I have of this is a brief version of it from the movie "Jersey Girl". However, I do think that it is OK that you haven't because it seems to do such a fabulous job making you feel as though you are viewing a live theatrical play. The sets are re-used over and over which gives it that feel of a play. The camera angles are changed so that it doesnt get redundant, but then for impact the same angles are used in certain scenes. I will say that this film drives me to a desire to view this as a live theatrical. Maybe someday COX and I will have the honor to see it.

I didn't feel conned into watching this movie, as I have felt with other BIG HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTERS. These movies make me feel like I was taken advantage of. Like, "We have your money, you got your big action scenes, and now we are done here". These are the same movies that leave me empty, not speaking of them again, not having a need to discuss them with anyone, and really not having to view them again either. This pains me. I love the fact that I was challenged by Sweeney Todd. It was something very different than what I was used to. It surprised me in a extraordinary way.

I agree with Caleb in the following ways:
1. that this is my Movie of the Year for 2007.
2. This is a true cinematic experience.
3. if one can put the blood parts past them, then they will truly enjoy this film.

I challenge the ones that can & will not see it due to the blood alone. You will be pleasantly satisfied.

So, do I think that you should see this? Do I really need to ask?
Rating: A+ (On Sam's Top 10 of all time)

.........and what are Sam's Top 10 of all time? I will get back with you on that. and I am sure that COX will share his along with mine.

4 comments:

Cricketblaine said...

Great review Caleb and Sam! I also give this film an A+ rating. Even though Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman are two of my favorite actors, I went into the film with low expectations and I braced myself for the all of the gore I knew would come. However, I spent the entire movie practically grinning! There was a kind of dark humor throughout the film that was found in the lyrics as well as in the performances by the actors. I agree that this may be Tim Burton's greatest masterpiece. Johnny Depp was absolutely fantastic as Sweeney Todd. Depp portrays Todd as a man capable of great compassion and love, but he also shows the madness and torment that grows within the character. Helena Bonham Carter was a big surprise to me. I am usually not too crazy about her, but she really amazed me this time! The ballad "Not While I'm Around" that she sings to young Toby gave me chills. All of the actors sang successfully with passion and raw intensity despite many of them not being trained singers. The music by Stephen Sondheim was spectacular and the orchestrations were powerful. The monochromatic backdrop of 19th century London was intriguing, and it was a great contrast to the bright red blood that splattered everywhere. My little brother and sister also thought this was the best film they have seen in a long time. There was so much detail and artistic creativity packed into this film that I cannot wait to experience watching it again! All of us had a bloody good time!!

Sara
12/24/07

Caleb Cox & Sam Blaine said...

Thanks for the comment "Cricketblaine"! Glad you loved this movie just as much as we did.
~COX

fswalker said...

isn't this the prequel to edward scissorhands?

Caleb Cox & Sam Blaine said...

FSW: not even close