I know this is a few days late, Sweeney Todd is a solid 8/10 on the movie musical roster. The acting is well done, the singing bearable, but adequate. I rather think they overload on the blood spatters, but to each their own. I really want to give the film a higher score, but after having seen multiple variations of the musical in real life, it’s very hard to do so. When I’ve heard Sweeney’s whose voices are like dark chocolate velvet on your eardrums, Johnny Depp, who has not been trained for Broadway style singing falls short.
However, the classic Tim Burton cast brings the dark sides of the tale out to play. There are no grey areas in Burton’s rendition of the story- only black edges of misery and despair to contrast the few happy moments in the film that look so out of place on the rare occasion that they are shown. The Joker/ Harley Quinn-esque chemistry between Depp and Bonham-Carter is brilliant, and just as abusive. In the film, one can see Sweeney’s obsession grow, but while certain actors take their time for Sweeney to gradually descend into madness, Depp lets the rage build until the very end, when Sweeney snaps completely (trying not to spoil it). This is a case of Les Mis, where every single actor might not have an amazing voice, but they are perfectly fitted for their character.
The Beadle is a dark character, and does not provide comic relief in the film as he does oftentimes on stage, but the brilliant portrayal by Timothy Spall holds him up as not only a supporting character, but one that makes your skin crawl with delicious disgust. Alan Rickman (who is greatly missed) as the Judge plays a sinister figure, but I felt disappointed that the movie lightened the portrayal- while still salacious, I didn’t feel the extent of the perversion that the Judge’s version of Johanna (Mea Culpa) portrays in the musical where he flagellates himself to orgasm while praying for forgiveness for Johanna and decides to marry her to “keep her safe”. It also provides a different side to the Judge’s story- in this, while he is disgusting and sick, one can see that internal struggle, the parallel between him and Sweeney, whereas Burton leaves no room for identification or sympathy between the two characters.
Final word: If you want the full experience, go see the musical, but the film holds its own as well. There’s only so much you can fit in a couple of hours, and Burton does a brilliant job with his depiction of the murdering, meat pie making couple in his film. With a strong supporting cast that is usually difficult to find, this movie stands out among other horror films as a solidly great movie for Halloween or any other time of the year.