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


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Vengeful and Redundant

Let’s step into the past for a little bit. Five years ago, I really started getting into the habit of reviewing movies, the only problem was that I was terrible at doing it. I had no idea how to properly convey why I didn’t like a movie, it was just that…I didn’t like a movie. So when I initially reviewed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I gave mad hate, but when it came to saying why, it just comes off as really bad criticism from someone who had no idea what he was talking about. Because of such, my review of the movie was one of my most controversial ones, reeling in a ton of hateful comments that really cornered me, and I am not ashamed to say I had the lower hand against the commenters. When I re-watched, I was surprised to see that my rating hadn’t changed much, but this time, I hope I am able to get my point across better.

Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) used to be a very famous barber by the name of Benjamin Barker. He changed his name as an alias to help grant him revenge against Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who had stolen his wife and daughter from him and had him banished. When he returned to London, he was Sweeney Todd and he had a very specific plan: kill Judge Turpin and retrieve his wife and daughter. His wife, however, had long died, so now Todd had an even sturdier reason to kill Turpin. When he loses his one chance to kill the Judge, Sweeney Todd loses his mind and decides to go full-out serial killer mode and kill everyone in London that needs a shave, alongside his zombie partner, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter). What do they do with the dead bodies? Make meat pies, of course, for all the good townsfolk to nibble on in their spare time.

The plot is really simple to understand, which really confuses me as to how I couldn’t pick it out the first time I saw it. It’s just a simple story of vengeance, and everything that gets in the way, causing madness. After watching the film a second time, I can easily say that I enjoyed it more, but honestly not by much. I enjoyed it enough not to want to break the TV while watching (as I wanted to the first time watching the movie). I was able to understand certain things the second time around, such as visuals and the music.

This is an operetta, I believe, meaning most of the dialogue in the film is sung, rather than spoken. That means, hey, how you doing? I’m doing fine, how about you…stuff like that is sung. You’ll see something strikingly similar in Les Miserables, which is a fantastic musical. I initially hated the aspect of almost nonstop singing, but now I can appreciate the art. I don’t mind it at all if at least a few of the songs are really good. For Les Miserables, a lot of the songs are just phenomenal, for Sweeney Todd, they were not as catchy or memorable. For an operetta, it needed the songs to be a little better written, but I just couldn’t get in to almost any of them. There was maybe a couple that held my interest long enough, but for the most part, I can’t say that I liked the music. I did, however, like what they did with what they had. They took the main songs and used them throughout the film in places where they belonged and had double meanings the second time sung. I actually can really appreciate the song usage, even if I didn’t like the songs.

I can also appreciate the visuals in regards to the ketchup blood. Before, I just couldn’t comprehend why they would do such visuals that look so fake. It was as if I were watching a cartoon while the rest was dark…I didn’t get it. The second time around, though, I can understand it. It’s just Tim Burton’s style. He wanted to make sure you really got the idea of what was going on. It was emphasizing the point in order to focus on what needed to be focused on. Again, I can understand that.

A lot of the reason why I didn’t like the movie had to do with the fact that it just wasn’t my thing. I was bored. The songs weren’t catchy for me. I wasn’t a fan of the actors singing voices, though I think they did an alright job. When it comes right down to it, I think it’s just the fact that I’m not a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim. It may also have to do with the fact that I like a story with someone that you can root for, a hero, not two villains.

I recognize the hard work done by all of the actors in order to fulfill their roles, and it still intrigues me to watch another one of Burton’s visual “masterpieces”, but I’ll have to pass on watching this ever again.

Peace out.


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