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A Dark and Dreary London Where The Only Thing Bright Is The Blood

December 14, 2007

Sweeney Todd Ticket FrontSweeney Todd Ticket Back

Holy crap, Johnny Depp can sing!

I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in the State of Maryland to see Sweeney Todd (aside from the movie press, of course). I do love an advanced screening because there are no advertisements or previews prior to the film. There is quite a bit of, “raise your hand if you have an empty seat next to you.” As they do pack every seat with a body and a very large man watches you during the movie to make sure you’re not trying to record it. Of course, the advanced warning from the long-haired studio guy that this was a really bloody film had the whole theatre hootin’ and clapping.

Now that I’ve seen the film I can say that there is definitely a reason that it has already been nominated for 4 Golden Globes. I never saw the stage musical, although I always wanted to see it. I was familiar with the story going into the picture and I had a vague knowledge of the songs as well. The lyrics get tweaked just a bit in the film and I think they work while still staying completely true to the original.

Tim Burton’s London is dark and shiny and the brightest color is the red of the blood. The blood is unnaturally vibrant, which works well against the gray and black backdrop of London. Aside from the black, gray, and red, color is only used two other obvious times in the film. Both times, the color serves to show characters that seem out of place from the world in which they live. The first time is when Sacha Baron Cohen first appears in the marketplace as Signor Adolfo Pirelli. His costume is bright blue while everyone in the crowd blends to gray. And while I could have done without Cohen’s obviously stuffed pants, he did play a good part and the stuffed pants did make me hate his character more so I guess they served their purpose. The second time we see some color is in Johanna’s dress. The dress makes her almost glow, like a jewel closed in a box that finally captures a spark of light.

As for the actors, Johnny Depp was amazing and I think he approached the singing in the best possible way for someone who is not a trained singer–he made the character sing. So what we hear is Depp purely in the character’s voice, and it works. Helena Bonham Carter holds her own as Mrs. Lovett and I think the duets between Carter and Depp are some of the best numbers in the musical. Of course, you do have to love a musical where one of the main songs contains the word “shit”. Yeah, that one’s going on my iPod in the “I Hate The World Mix”.

Then there’s Alan Rickman who always plays a great villian and he doesn’t disappoint with his portrayal of Judge Turpin. You do really hate Turpin and you want him in Sweeney Todd’s barber chair so badly.

I wasn’t very fond of Jayne Wisener’s voice in her musical numbers as Johanna. Generally, with a musical, I want the singing to feel natural. I don’t want to notice it. Weisner’s voice was a little too piercing and opera-like for a musical and it took me out of the scene when she first started singing. That’s usually not a good sign. She has a lovely voice, I just don’t think it was right for this musical.

And just because I recognized him, it was nice to see Anthony Head even though he only had a couple of lines and if you blinked, you might miss him.

The film had good flow and while I got the feeling that there might have been something missing in a couple of places, it didn’t seem to hurt the movie as a whole.

Now that my critical analysis is finished–I loved this movie! My sister-in-law was jumping up and down in the parking lot she loved it so much. Johnny Depp looked good and it is worth going to see the film just to see him in that old fashioned black and white striped bathing costume. Just the sight of him in that getup made the whole audience burst out laughing.

I was so wired when I came home that I didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 in the morning. I was still happily wired the next day and hummed my way through work. Humming–not something I do on a regular basis. I couldn’t believe how happy I was. My sis-in-law called it, “The Musical Effect”. Man did I need it last week.

Hey, it’s a musical you can get a straight guy to see with you–’cause he can say he went for the bloody butchering and you can enjoy Johnny Depp with a side of blood lust for yourself.


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