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Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (18)

Posted by Guest Writer on Tue, 29 Jan 2008.

Sweeney Todd

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen.

It’s easy to see why director Tim Burton’s latest offering would be an adaptation of the hit musical. The story’s dark humor, brooding atmosphere and gothic setting are all hallmarks for the man responsible for such films as Sleepy Hollow, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Batman.

The film does look impressive. With it’s claustrophobic sets (that give as much a sense of a stage performance as they do reality), flamboyant costumes, excellent photography and some wonderfully bloody effects. The blood almost becomes a character once it starts flowing and does get people squirming in their seats. It may have been somewhat surprising that it received an 18 certificate, but the film definitely contains some pretty graphic violence and let’s face it, this is a story about homicidal maniacs and cannibalism (and did I mention the blood?).

Although enjoyable the first time, the film isn’t the masterpiece it has been made out to be by some and it does suffer for it’s length, which left me doubting that I’d want to sit through it again.

Along with Tim Burton favorites Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, the cast includes some excellent support from Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and a surprising Sacha Baron Cohen. All give great theatrical and musical performances.

Overall I can’t completely dismiss Sweeny Todd. It does have some great moments and it is visually pleasing. But somehow the spectacle, the performances, even the gore just wasn’t enough to leave me with any great sense of achievement or enjoyment. However I’m sure musical fans and Burton fans will lap it up.

By Tom Smith