Media Maven: “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Media Maven: “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

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Sweeney Todd
Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Laura Michelle Kelly, Sacha Baron Cohen

You’ve seen the Warner Brothers logo before a movie a million times, yet you’ve never heard it like this. At the beginning of this movie, you’ll hear the horror organ music accompanying the clip.

It’s like the organ grinding is telling you to get ready. Not only will the music knock your socks off but this film is going to be good! Then you’ll see thrilling graphics of a trail of flowing blood. Strangely, even this is not morbid. It’s all preparing you as the leads come into place, presenting the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Johnny Depp plays Benjamin Barker, a.k.a. Sweeney Todd, the deranged, bitter, lost man who changes his identity upon release from prison. He returns to find his wife has poisoned herself and his beautiful daughter, Joanna, now a young woman, in the care of the judge who sent Barker to prison many years ago.

Now let me give a disclaimer: To transfer a live Broadway theatre production into a film version is a difficult endeavor. Under the capable, creative direction of Tim Burton this nearly impossible feat has been accomplished. However, many filmgoers who have seen the play live were disappointed by the film version.

I’ll concede to that statement. I know it’s like comparing apples to oranges. A live action theatre production can never be emulated to the same extent and appeal as a film. If you go to Sweeney Todd with the intention of being entertained by the film’s merit ONLY, and NOT compare it to the Broadway production—then you will be pleasantly surprised.

Fans of Johnny Depp will be delighted and rewarded for their patronage. The man can sing!! Any time Johnny is on screen, he becomes bigger than life; his performances are enthralling. Yet again he manages to show a deranged, eclectic character in the depths of despair and remorse discover that revenge only begets the hate that eats away at his own heart.

Alan Rickman as the judge is also in the same league as Depp. His combined singing and acting contributes to the show.

Tim Burton insists there was no nepotism as he cast his long time love Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. She is Todd’s accomplice. There’s no need to suspect special treatment for her acting chops. But her singing isn’t quite of the same caliber as her fellow stars.

Overall, Sweeney Todd is a treat!

Rating: Four Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.