head head head
Home Contact RSS Feed
Movie Review: Sweeney Todd
MrOodles   |  

Sweeney Todd movie posterSweeney Todd
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Johnny Deep, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman
Rated R
Released date: Dec. 21, 2007

Ow’s uhbou uh meet poi, guvna? An’ perhaps uh touch uh gin ta waas it deown?

Aye, mum, Oi’d luv me a meet poi! Sowch uh taste woyd tickle me knickers, it woyd.

I enjoy a spot of deliciousness, too, every now and again.

The cockney-heavy production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is palatable enough. Macabre dream team Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen lay out a smorgasbord of a Broadway adaptation that will leave audiences drooling or writhing — depending on their tolerance of anthropophagi (juicy word, eh? Means cannibals).

The film opens with a treat of a credit reel courtesy of Mr. Burton. Those impatient geeks out there that had to watch the opening credits online know what I’m talking about — it does for blood what Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘s credit reel did for chocolate. Just writing about it conjures cravings of a strip steak: extra rare.

There is plenty of blood to go around.

Thereafter the audience is served up a common sight: Johnny Depp employing full British inflection and riding into town on a large wooden ship. The revelation occurs when he opens his mouth not to bark orders of swabbing the deck or putting out the jib, but to regale us with a voice that has too long been dormant. And once he opens his mouth to sing, there is a rare moment that he closes it.

That is the difficulty in adapting a three-hour musical into a 117-minute film. Songs are slashed in twain, exposition is bare bones and quickly delivered, and loose ends are left hopelessly untied. Adaptor (rightfully credited) John Logan was not totally equal to the task. However, of the major players in this production only Logan is top round where filet mignon was in order.

Juicy, sweet, extra-bloody filet mignon.

After Sweeney (Depp) delivers his first aria with impeccable, enunciative elegance, the audience is introduced to his supporting décolletage in Mrs. Lovett (Carter). From their melodious discourse we learn that Sweeney was falsely imprisoned by the malevolent Judge Turpin (Rickman, always delightful in a sinister roll) who in turn raped his wife and stole their child. And that is grounds enough for vengeance.

But before there can be vengeance, Mr. Todd must make a name for himself. Enter Cohen as the sinfully vibrant barber, Signor Adolfo Pirelli. In the most humorous song in the film, Todd challenges Pirelli to a duel. While besting Pirelli, Todd attracts the attention of Turin’s lackey, Beadle. And that is exactly the appetizer Todd needs to butcher his main course.

The plot of Sweeney Todd is more complex than your average musical. Certainly Adolfo Shabba-Doo is jealous. However, the meat of the film comes from the near perfect execution of those Tony-winning musical duets. First, we are treated to Sweeney and Anthony Hope (played professionally by Jaime Campbell Bower). Then, Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett; Anthony and Johanna (Jayne Wisener); Sweeney and Pirelli; Sweeney and Judge Turpin; and Mrs. Lovett and Toby (Ed Sanders). This is musical in its most tender form. The ensemble pieces are all worth dying and being fed to a street urchin for.

But don’t slit my throat till I’ve had another delightful meat pie!

Regardless of the enjoyable performances that the entire cast puts together, the star of this show never appears on camera. Tim Burton is absolutely The Man. Through the best direction of his career, Burton creates an atmosphere that IS theatre. In one beautiful scene a Lark sits in a cage, and the musical accompaniment is that of shrill flutes and violins instead of a contrived bird call sound effect. After several songs, one feels the need to applaud as if the actors are directly in front of them. In the short 22 years of this reviewer’s life, he has never witnessed a more atmospheric stage-to-screen adaptation.

Burton has had a long, professional relationship with Johnny Depp. Perhaps there is no better analogy than that of the New England Patriots, but Tim Burton is to Johnny Depp as Bill Belichick is to Tom Brady. Belichick is a football mastermind, and he is so in tune with Brady that there is no disconnect between his strategy and Brady’s execution. In the exact same fashion, Burton and Depp connect on a level that is almost spiritual. Depp is the thespian embodiment of Burton’s vision. That’s why going to a Burton-Depp film is like going to a Patriots game. There’s an excellent chance you’re leaving with a victory.

It’d be a lie to say this film is flawless, though. Specifically, the dialogue between characters at any given point is rushed and unintelligible. Entire facets of the plot are missed when Mrs. Lovett or Sweeney himself must rush through expository speeches. Absolutely unforgivable is the absence of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.” The audience leaves the theater with a sincere and reasonable feeling that the film is incomplete. The ending, which was certainly powerful, is an ending that neither Sweeney fans nor movie buffs will feel satisfied with.

And I hate to end a review about an excellent film on a low note, but that’s how the film ended with me.

Grade: A – –


To me, there was nothing more satisfying than watching Johnny Depp savagely beat and then tracheotomize Sacha Baron Cohen. It was like all that is right with movies destroying all that is wrong with movies.

Sweeney Todd ecard:

Create your own Sweeney Todd trailer:


  1. Wow, they did it cut it down to to two hours. I didn’t know that. I am looking forward to this one. Great review.

    Comment by Jerry — December 20, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  2. Awesome review! I’m quite looking forward to digging into this one.

    Comment by Movies At Midnight — December 21, 2007 @ 1:29 am

  3. I think Johnny Depp is fabulous which is the only reason I went to see this film, but it’s a Burton gruesome film and I must remind myself never to see his movies again. Apocalypto was 1 compared to this gruesome 12!!!

    Comment by Marty — January 5, 2008 @ 10:44 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Previous Article
Next Article
You may have noticed that we're now AD FREE! Please support Geeks of Doom by using the Amazon Affiliate link above. All of our proceeds from the program go toward maintaining this site.
Geeks of Doom on Twitter Geeks of Doom on Facebook Geeks of Doom on Instagram Follow Geeks of Doom on Tumblr Geeks of Doom on YouTube Geeks of Doom Email Digest Geeks of Doom RSS Feed
The Drill Down Podcast TARDISblend Podcast Westworld Podcast
2023  ·   2022  ·   2021  ·   2020  ·   2019  ·   2018  ·   2017  ·   2016  ·   2015  ·   2014  ·  
2013  ·   2012  ·   2011  ·   2010  ·   2009  ·   2008  ·   2007  ·   2006  ·   2005
Geeks of Doom is proudly powered by WordPress.

Students of the Unusual™ comic cover used with permission of 3BoysProductions
The Mercuri Bros.™ comic cover used with permission of Prodigal Son Press

Geeks of Doom is designed and maintained by our geeky webmaster
All original content copyright ©2005-2023 Geeks of Doom
All external content copyright of its respective owner, except where noted
Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under
a Creative Commons License.
About | Privacy Policy | Contact