Movie Reviews: Sweeney Todd
The publicity and merchandising folks responsible for drawing audiences to the movie theaters to see the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street have had a tough time selling this film, despite the fact that it is directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp. It is, after all, a movie that is sung from beginning to end, in which the colors are nearly non-existent, and which is set in 19th century London. And, oh, yes. as Roger Ebert observes in his four-star review in the Chicago Sun-Times: "The bloodiest musical in stage history, it now becomes the bloodiest in film history, and it isn't a jolly romp, either." How bloody is it? Well, consider A.O.Scott's description in the New York Times. "[It] is as dark and terrifying as any motion picture in recent memory, not excluding the bloody installments in the Saw franchise. Indeed, Sweeney is as much a horror film as a musical: It is cruel in its effects and radical in its misanthropy, expressing a breathtakingly, rigorously pessimistic view of human nature. It is also something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme -- I am tempted to say evil -- genius." Nevertheless, writes Claudia Puig in USA Today, "Unlike more realistic violent fare, the gore in this gloomy Gothic marvel feels exaggeratedly theatrical and a vital part of the melodramatic mayhem. Sweeney Todd is the perfect marriage of filmmaker and material. Director Tim Burton has adapted Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical in a darkly clever and comical fashion." Kyle Smith in the New York Post begins his review of the movie this way: "Tell me, is it good? Sir, it's too good, at least. Director Tim Burton's fierce and fast adaptation of the greatest stage musical of the last 30 years ... is mighty entertainment that makes you feel sorry for the saps next door in the multiplex." And Peter Marks in the Washington Post can barely contain his enthusiasm and praise. "With oceans of gore, streams of luscious musicality and a performance by Johnny Depp redolent of malevolence and magnetism, Burton brings Sondheim's 1979 musical to the screen with a bravura visual style thrillingly in touch with the timelessly depraved delights of Grand Guignol," he writes.