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Movie Review: Sweeney Todd (Burton/Depp)

Some dynamic duos just go together. Batman and Robin, Bahamut Zero and Jessica Alba, Starsky and Hutch, Burton and Depp.

At least, that's what I thought going into the Tim Burton adaptation of the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [link @ RT] last Friday evening. It had a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I've enjoyed every Burton-Depp collaboration to date, including such notables as Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride -- even Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was decent.

So what happened here? How did a musical with a good old-fashioned revenge story, a dark setting, and Burton and Depp end up so... boring?

Yes, that's right. This movie is just dull. I honestly don't know what film all the reviewers were watching, but I was fighting to stay awake. Depp is suitably brooding, but his character has nothing interesting to say. The songs are meandering and largely forgettable. The supporting cast is in general either heinously underused (Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall) or simply insipid (Jamie Campbell Bower, Jayne Wisener).

Get ready to see Johnny Depp maintain this expression for 2 hours

Not all is lost, however. Helena Bonham Carter plays the female lead and is a bright spot in this otherwise dreary and turgid musical. She gets almost all of the good lines, and seems to relish in the role. It's amazing how she can bring life to the movie, even in the same duet as a bland partner (Johnny Depp can hit the notes, but his voice is not particularly well-suited to the part). Another happy surprise is Sascha Baron Cohen's performance. Although his screen time is brief, his charisma is undeniable and elevates the movie to something more whenever he appears.

Someone needed to make this movie enjoyable

In short, Sweeney Todd is perhaps a competent musical (I have not seen the stage production), but it is not a good movie. Considering the strength of its cast, this is particularly disappointing. There's also a twist that is not really a twist if you've ever seen a movie where a seemingly unimportant character receives an undue amount of camera time.

Perhaps I was just having a curmudgeonly evening, and have judged Sweeney Todd harshly. I can only recommend that if you do go see it, go in with modest expectations and you may be pleasantly surprised. But if you go in hoping for something on par with, say, Edward Scissorhands, your expectations are already too high.
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About MaxVestone of us since 9:23 PM on 06.03.2007

It's only a model...

Uncommon, some wear on the edges.

First game: TI Invaders (Space Invaders knock-off) for the TI-99 "home computer". Either that or the Pac-Man built into the glass-top tables at Mr. Gatti's Pizza.
First console: NES
First world-altering game secret: JUSTIN BAILEY
First Arcade: Aladdin's Palace
First "mature" game: Leisure Suit Larry
First PC: 386SX 16 mHz w/40 MB HDD, Win 3.0, & 640x480 VGA baby!
First FPS: Wolfenstein 3D
First game mastered: Street Fighter II Turbo - Hyper Fighting (SNES)
First LAN deathmatch: Duke Nukem 3D
Great Game Reawakening: Living in an apartment with all sixth generation consoles and 3 gaming rigs.

New Systems: Wii, DS.
Somehow now owns: PS3
Randomly owns: SEGA Nomad, Game Gear, Genesis II, Sega CD
Cannot afford but is thinking about intercepting return RROD coffin: Xbox 360.
Currently playing: Rock Band, Zack & Wiki, Unreal Tournament III