film review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2008)2 Comments
I’m a big fan of Tim Burton, the only film of his that I haven’t seen is Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I think his output has been somewhat inconsistent. The last film of his that I really loved was Big Fish in 2003 and while I liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I wasn’t blown away. Corpse Bride I was really disappointed with.
Which leads us to his latest offering, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It’s not a bad film, it’s actually reasonably entertaining but it just didn’t quite work for me. It wasn’t the musical aspect, I love musicals and I left the cinema thinking that I’d much preferred to have seen it as a stage show… I think the problem was that I just found it so predictable. From practically the moment Johnny Depp’s character steps off the boat, you can see how it’s going to end (don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you!). Now, predictability isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I take all films as they come, however if a film is going to be predictable there has to be something else keep you hooked and this film didn’t have anything. The songs were decent, the acting was fine, it looked great but it was never enough to tip it into the category of a great film, for me.
There were some positives though. As I mentioned, visually it was brilliant, all the hallmarks of a Tim Burton film and then some. Also I thought the principle characters were perfectly cast, particularly Alan Rickman, when you hear his voice you just know there’s something evil about him. Helena Bonham Carter too was spot on and Johnny Depp is never out of place in Tim Burton’s shadowy gothic world. It was also pretty funny when it was trying to be, Sacha Baron Cohen certainly did his job on that front.
All in all it was fine, there was nothing really wrong with it to be honest, it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps I was expecting too much, though I try not to with Tim Burton. I just can’t help thinking that there just wasn’t enough of anything to pull it off, it was just lacking in heart or sparkle. That’s why I think the stage show would be better, at least on stage there would be the passion of the spectacle, the drama of the theatre if you will…