3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
On The Other Hand,
This review is from: Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street [DVD]  (DVD)I'm generally not that keen on reviewing things since everything seems to already have been said by the time I get around to watching something but this seems like the exception.
I've persevered with Tim Burton's films for long after they interested me, based on his early gems of Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood so I really wasn't expecting too much from this one.
As you can see by my score, I really got a lot of pleasure out of this and thought it was witty and pretty and darkly sensual in a way that lots of films strive for but never achieve (Burton's included. I'm looking at you Sleepy Hollow).
Beyond the two leads (who I thought were perfectly tragic and disinterested, giving it an understated menace and adding to the humour), the look is beautiful, the killings especially were perfectly nasty in a way you don't expect so much in musicals when you've got a lot of singing and silliness, again adding to the sensual delights on offer. It reminded me of something like American Psycho or Nip/Tuck in that kind of high camp gloss, everything is highly stylised and the blood and gore fit into the look and have a kind of beauty of their own instead of being soley gratutious.
The music too fitted perfectly and the singing voices were perfectly pitched to fit the characters without needing to be showing and evidence of vocal prowess or else jarring "this is a good song" bit. A lot of it reminded me of Scott Walker, that rich, almost tuneless but operatic baritone mingling melancholy and menace.
All this said, I am certainly no musical afficando (I've seen plenty of film versions and a few stage productions but generally modern musicals leave me cold) and knew nothing of this one other than a vague outline of the story of Sweeney Todd. So, I suspect like a lot of things, if you go with an idea and a feel for how you've enjoyed it before, it might well disappoint you in its new form.
To me it seemed fresh and engaging and certainly encouraged me to hunt out other Stephen Sondeheim productions since the dialogue and music meshed very perfectly with Burton's usually kinds of tricks (I think for me he's been lacking a good script for many years and has limitations as a director (or chooser of projects) which have left him in something of a rut.
I am now off to hunt out the soundtrack.