Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread

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Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#1
Posted: 12/4/07 at 8:08am
So that we don't get a new thread every time a new review of the movie comes out hopefully we can put all of the reviews in one thread.

I know that the Variety review already has a thread and there are one or two other pre-review threads out there so hopefully we can put the reviews to come here.

Here is one from the Hollywood Reporter:

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's 19th century London and everyone is singing, but when arterial blood sprays from the opened throat of Signor Adolfo Pirelli, you know this is no "My Fair Lady."

Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," a savage tale of cannibalism, madness and serial murder, is now Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd." The show couldn't have fallen into better hands. With realistic gore replacing the stylistic bloodletting in the stage version, "Sweeney" loses some of its darkly comic tone -- not a lot of laughs here except the nervous kind.

More akin to Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," where heads rolled like so many bowling balls, his "Sweeney Todd" places its emphasis on Grand Guignol and the deeply human story of twice-lost love and the horrifying destructiveness of revenge.
Depp is bloody good in 'Sweeney Todd'
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#2
Posted: 12/4/07 at 8:11am
Thank you, pab re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread

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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#2
Posted: 12/4/07 at 9:20am
The Reporter review draws some major distinction in the stage version of the Judge that seems off-the-wall. Judge Turpin wantas to regain his "goodness?" Huh? Not demonstrated in a single on-stage deed or intention. If that's a reference to his self-flagellation in the off-cutted solo, it's a bizarre quest for a moral layer that's not there. The character is black-hearted in the stage version, devoid of redeeming traits, and surely Burton was wise to not soften him. Merely recognizing one's dark intentions doesn't necessarily suggest a desire for redemption. The judge gets off on being naughty, after all, and it's all exacerbated by a quasi-religios "purge" when he lashes himself.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#3
Posted: 12/4/07 at 10:30am
variety,

Both sharp and fleet, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” proves a satisfying screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s landmark 1979 theatrical musical. Where much could have gone wrong, things have turned out uniformly right thanks to highly focused direction by Tim Burton, expert screw-tightening by scenarist John Logan, and haunted and musically adept lead performances from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Assembled artistic combo assures the film will reap by far the biggest audience to see a pure Sondheim musical, although just how big depends on the upscale crowd’s tolerance for buckets of blood, and the degree to which the masses stay away due to the whiff of the highbrow. In all events, DreamWorks-Paramount and Warner Bros. have a classy and reasonably commercial delicacy on their hands.


http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117935560.html?categoryid=31&cs=1
Well I didn't want to get into it, but he's a Satanist. Every full moon he sacrifices 4 puppies to the Dark Lord and smears their blood on his paino. This should help you understand the score for Wicked a little bit more. Tazber's: Reply to Is Stephen Schwartz a Practicing Christian
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#4
Posted: 12/4/07 at 10:46am
Auggie27---The judge is definitely in turmoil internally in the stage show IF you include his "Johanna" number. He's lusting and asking God to deliver him, while beating himself black & blue into an orgasm. But if you cut that number (which they did prior to the original show's opening) there is no other indication that the judge is going through this warped, pathetic, internal struggle...

I'm guessing this reviewer is basing his critique off of the included song on the OBCR, not an actual stage production.

I'm really not sweating that criticism, though. The original creative team decided that this number wasn't necessary in the "grand scheme of things" and they cut it. So, if the character is lacking, according to this Reporter critic, it's probably because he's missing that number.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#5
Posted: 12/4/07 at 10:49am
Terry Teachout, who lives in New York, is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal and the music critic of Commentary


As a member of the working press, I saw tonight's screening under embargo, so I can't say anything specific about Sweeney Todd until it opens in selected cities on December 21. (It opens wide on January 11.) What I can say is that it is--without exception, and by a considerable margin--the best film ever to have been made from a Broadway musical. The only other one to which it can possibly be compared is Bob Fosse's 1972 screen version of Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd is, aside from everything else, a better show. (It is, in my opinion, the best musical to have opened on Broadway since the end of World War II.) I also think it might actually do well at the box office, not to mention the next Oscar night.

http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#6
Posted: 12/4/07 at 10:53am
Forgive me if this has been posted already.

Here are some of the early reviews from last night’s screening.

“Assembled artistic combo assures the film will reap by far the biggest audience to see a pure Sondheim musical, although just how big depends on the upscale crowd’s tolerance for buckets of blood, and the degree to which the masses stay away due to the whiff of the highbrow. In all events, DreamWorks-Paramount and Warner Bros. have a classy and reasonably commercial delicacy on their hands.” — Variety

“Depp is the movie’s heart and guts… The musical numbers ooze with Sondheim’s audacious wit and scathing lyrics… Teaming with Depp, his long-time alter ego, Burton makes Sweeney a smoldering dark pit of fury and hate that consumes itself. With his sturdy acting and surprisingly good voice, Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages.” — The Hollywood Reporter

“This is the film to beat for Best Picture this year; the only “big” picture that is also a work of art. Academy voters should eat it up, pun intended.” — FOX News
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#7
Posted: 12/4/07 at 10:53am
Great stuff!

I'm wondering why his lips are sealed on an "official" review, yet Variety and The Reporter already released theirs!

I'm sure the studio(s) won't care since these advance "leaks" are all positive (so far).

But why aren't they honoring the embargo??
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#8
Posted: 12/4/07 at 11:03am
Wow and Teachout is NOT a hack critic either. He's generally been one of the better theatre and music critics out there for a LONG time and it's rare to see him gush and give an unqualified rave like that to ANYTHING. This bodes VERY well for the movie being something very special.....
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#9
Posted: 12/4/07 at 11:14am
Yeah Margo, I was shocked. And it got me thinking that since there was a screening for the Broadway community, attended by lots of legit critics, I wonder if we're going to be getting reviews from both movie and theater critics.

Having some favorable reviews from the legits could be an interesting marketing tool for the studio. And I'd LOVE to read a Frank Rich column on the movie.
Updated On: 12/4/07 at 11:14 AM
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#10
Posted: 12/4/07 at 11:31am
It's an understood 'loophole' in the critic biz that "the trades" (ie - Hollywood Reporter and Variety) are generally always allowed to publish early ... despite embargo. And yeah, like someone said, if it's good news -- the studio certainly doesn't mind.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#11
Posted: 12/4/07 at 11:36am
Reviews from legit critics also are not allowed to scoop the film critics at a particular outlet.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#12
Posted: 12/4/07 at 11:46am
Jeffrey Wells

I went to last night's screening of Sweeney Todd (Dreamamount, 11.21) with a guarded attitude. Here we go, another flush of the downward Burton swirl, get ready for it. The man has been in a kind of losing-it mode since Planet of the Apes and he's had his day...live with it. And then it began, and less than two minutes in I knew it was exceptional and perhaps more than that.
Ten minutes later I was feeling something growing within me. Surprise turned to admiration turned to amazement. I felt filled up, delighted. I couldn't believe it...a Tim Burton film that reverses the decline! Call me a changed man. Call Burton a changed man. Sweeney Todd is his best film since...Beetlejuice?

I have to leave for LAX and a flight to Boston in less than an hour, but I have to get at least some of this down.

All my life I've loved -- worshipped -- what Stephen Sondheim's music can do for the human heart. Blend this with a tragic, grand guignol metaphor about how we're all caught up with some issue of the past -- needing on some level to pay the world back for the hurt and the woundings. Add to this Burton's exquisite visual panache and precision, the drop-dead beautiful, near monochromatic color, the ravishing production design and...pardon me for sounding like a pushover, but this movie pushes over.

At times it melted me like a candle. I was lifted, moved...I was never not aroused.


Johnny Depp is fantastic as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street -- he has to be a Best Actor candidate as of this moment. It grieves me to admit this, but bully-boy David Poland predicted that Depp's Todd would be a major contender early last year. Helena Bonham Carter can't sing very well but she's great anyway. Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower (a major new arrival), Jayne Wisener, Sascha Baron Cohen...everyone fills the bill.

The Envelope's Tom O'Neil has been calling this one for weeks and weeks, and if Sweeney Todd hadn't been this good he would have egg yolk all over his face this morning. But he listened to the voices and somehow just...knew. Sweeney Todd is a locked Best Picture contender at this stage. It's too beautifully made, too full of feeling, too exquisitely performed to shunt aside. But it won't win because of the blood.

I was lifted, touched, moved, melted...and also showered and sprayed. And I'm sorry for this. If only Burton had focused harder on the metaphor of a man consumed by bitterness, determined to pay back those who ruined his life...if he'd only elected to turn away and not indulge his B-movie director's fetish for the gushing red vino, as if from a garden hose or a fire hydrant. The film is its own tragedy, in a way. So near and yet so far.


Something very deep-down kicks in when a human being is killed or mutilated or both. It's horrible and ghastly, and the spirit naturally recoils unless -- and this is a very big "unless" -- the style and the context turn it around and redefine it in some way.

Al I know for sure is that I was mesmerized. I loved the duets, the look of it, the control, the poise, the ache, the tragedy. This is a major, major film. Way up there. Better, impact-wise than the B'way stage version I saw a couple of years ago with Patti Lupone. The finest big-time movie musical since the under-appreciated Evita, which I feel is Alan Parker's best film ever.

So into the top-five slot goes and let the back-and-forth begin. It almost certainly won't win the Best Picture Oscar because Burton, stubborn donkey that he is, allows a gore fetish to override -- or at least too strongly compete with -- the emotion and the metaphor and the beauty, but it's a masterful work. Heart-stopping, heart-lifting. I came close to tears several times, and I don't like admitting this stuff because people use it against you later on.

http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/archives/2007/11/sweeny_todd_rev.php
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#13
Posted: 12/4/07 at 12:47pm
Oh, John Doyle...what hath thou wrought?

It appears that the person in the last review has never actually seen the originally production, widely available on DVD. The touchstone seems to be the Doyle production which was VERY metaphorical in it's depiction of the carnage. As many know, I was not a fan of Doyle's interpretation of the work.

It's just strange to have someone who seems to be a bit of a Sondheim devotee (or will many simply claim that to look all kinds of knowlegable) not know that there was a great deal of bloodletting in the original production. I'm sure it's FAR more intense on screen...but to condemn the film for going there seems just plain...well...odd.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#14
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:19pm
I went to the premier last night in NYC and totally agree with Teachout! This is by far the best film adaptation of a Broadway musical I have ever seen.

The movie is pure magic. Much more of the score was left intact than earlier versions of the script I had read.

The film is stunning visually and the score sound fantastic. It's funny, frightening and moving.

And YES, Depp can sing. And sing well!

The final moments with the young (very young) Toby are among the most profoundly terrifying I have ever witnessed on screen.

The premier was fun. Paramount invited almost every Broadway cast that had Monday off. It was nice to chat with them all.

Unfortunately, they were not invited to the party afterwards at the Four Seasons. That was fun as well. It was great chatting with the film cast and other Paramount "stars".

At the end of the screening they gave everyone in the audience a copy of the Soundtrack and the "How they made it" coffee table book.

It was a wonderful night and a wonderful film.

Now how to sell it to the rest of the world...
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#15
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:26pm
"Tim Burton’s film version of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is without a doubt my top movie choice for 2007.

Everything about it is just perfect, and all this was confirmed when I got to see this extraordinary movie musical on a big screen with a great sound system at the Ziegfeld premiere Monday night in New York.

This is the film to beat for Best Picture this year; the only "big" picture that is also a work of art. Academy voters should eat it up, pun intended.

Most Broadway musicals have trouble transferring to the screen. Think "Hello Dolly!" or "The Producers."

There were a thousand wrong turns Burton and crew could have taken, but somehow they avoided them. They condensed a complicated three-hour show into a highly entertaining two hours without missing a beat — literally."
'Sweeney Todd' — Best Movie of 2007
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#16
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:38pm
Yay, Tom!!

So glad to hear you loved it THAT much!


The 21st can't get here fast enough for me.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#17
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:45pm
Teachout's article says, "opens in selected cities on December 21. (It opens wide on January 11)" Is he just stuck on the old release info or has it changed back to this. From what I understood, it had changed to a wide release on 12/21. And does anyone know how to find a list of which cities would be included in the "selected cities"?
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#18
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:50pm
It's opening "wide" on the 21st. I don't know "how wide" or which cities... but they're not doing a staggered release schedule anymore.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#19
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:55pm
Oh, John Doyle...what hath thou wrought?

It appears that the person in the last review has never actually seen the originally production, widely available on DVD. The touchstone seems to be the Doyle production which was VERY metaphorical in it's depiction of the carnage.


The fact that some people think John Doyle's production was the way Sweeney has always been staged isn't John Doyle's fault. re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread It's the fault of the idiots who can't be bothered to properly inform themselves. I know you didn't like the Doyle interpretation, and that's cool. But... I mean, should we discourage new interpretation for fear that it might cause confusion to people who don't care to do their research? That seems a little unfair to the artist. Especially one who is all about challenging an audience that has become too passive, lazy and complacent in wanting all the work done for it.

Sorry, I know that's completely off topic.

Anyway. I've been optimistic about this movie for a while, but reading all of these wonderful things just makes the wait infinitely difficult. re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread
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Updated On: 12/4/07 at 01:55 PM
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#20
Posted: 12/4/07 at 1:58pm
That's what I thought, Best. I just checked IMDB. not that they are an infallible source, but they list the release dates for every country, so it must come from somewhere official. For USA they list, "Limited release 12/21"
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Updated On: 12/4/07 at 01:58 PM
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#21
Posted: 12/4/07 at 2:08pm
A little googling shows me that around half of the movie related web sites list it as a 12/21 wide release and half list it as 12/21 limited with 1/11 wide. If no one knows of an official source, I'm just going to go ahead and assume the "wide" ones are correct because that's what I need to believe.
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#22
Posted: 12/4/07 at 2:15pm
Hold tight to your beliefs, artscallion!!
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#23
Posted: 12/4/07 at 2:22pm
Well, a bit of trolling around the internet (dont say it!) shows that many of the odds/prediction sites are picking it as a fave Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay nominations contender as well since these "reviews" have come out.

Many agree that it will lose BP due to the amount of blood...not because it's a musical. Atonement is still the favorite on each site I found.

Carter is in the "rising" contender on a few of them...just out of the race at this point, but her stock is climbing.

Oddly, no more mention of Rickman as supporting actor, I assume due to the crowd gathering in that category.

TomMonster, thanks for the first hand review!
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re: Sweeney Todd Movie Review Thread#24
Posted: 12/4/07 at 2:34pm
When the original trailer came out, there was much scuttlebutt (I've never actually typed that word before) about how little singing there was in it.

I happened upon a site that posted nine little snippets, that give a few more glimpses of the singing performances, for those of us who have to wait until Dec 21 to see it. I scooped some of the video links up and made them pretty. See below.

Ten-year-old Ed Sanders plays Tobias, and his beautiful singing voice is showcased in the little clip of "Not While I'm Around."

Depp sounds promising, and Sacha Baron Cohen sounds great as Pirelli.


Nine Short Peeks at Sweeney Todd
Eric M. Cole
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