Friday, December 21, 2007

Sweeney Todd in Review

As you may know, I've been very skeptical about the film adaptation of Sweeney Todd. It is probably my favorite musical of all time, and the thought of it being ruined on film worried me. And once I heard Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's singing, I was very apprehensive to accept it. Nonetheless, I was at the theater opening night. And I must say that this is filmmaking at its finest. Burton creates a mood completely independent from the show, but still incorporates enough elements from the show to satisfy its most obsessive fans. Depp and Carter may sound subpar (at least to some), but, when you see the new direction they have taken their character in, it works tremendously. Also, Ed Sanders has one of the best voices I've ever heard come from a child; he gives the best vocal performance in the entire cast (can't say the same of his acting, but eh). The only problem I had is that, though it was good, if you're going to do a Stephen Sondheim movie musical that is 70% singing, why not just go all out and get actors who can sing their hearts out? I don't blame Depp and Carter, as they did make it work, but still, this was not the correct project for Tim Burton to cast his best friend and fiance in. That said, both will probably end up making my ballot. All in all, Sweeney Todd satisfies deeply, with its unforgettable music, intricate plot, and surprisingly very good performances. And yet, I was left wanting just a little bit more out of it all. A-

7 comments:

Chris Perkins said...

Can't wait to see it tonight!

AJ said...

Singing actors are better than acting singers!

Alison Flynn said...

Actually, aj, that's a pretty sweeping and general statement. The ideal is to have people who are both actors AND singers. There are people who train in BOTH crafts.

Alison Flynn said...

Lovely though short review, Brian. I'm glad the film didn't disappoint.

If you have a chance, go over to www.thefilmexperience.net. Nathaniel has posted a wonderful indepth review of the movie. The reason I want to point you to it is because in one part he compares Sweeney Todd to Shakespeare. That the source material is so very strong and lasting that it can stand up to any interpretation, any rendering, and still be what it is at its core. You never lose sight of the masterpiece. Check it out.

Brian Erickson said...

That really is an excellent comparison; Sweeney to Shakespeare. When a musical's book, music and lyrics are flawless, it can't be made less than flawless under any circumstance; much like Shakespeare.

Alison Flynn said...

One of the commenters went as far as to say that Tim Burton would have had to TRY to screw it up for it to be a disappointment.

Needless to say, this particular person wasn't bowled over by the film, particularly the performances by the leads. When it comes down to it, some people who know the show will be bothered by the singing, some will be fine with it. It's very subjective.

But Sondheim's magnificent work remains either way. :)

Anonymous said...

I saw Sweeney Todd and this is an marvelous film with an amazing performance by Johnny Depp (He deserves the nomination even the Oscar) and great performances by Bonham Carter, Rickman, Cohen and Sanders. Great Art Direction, Costumes, Cinematography... One of the best filmes of the year...