Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sweeney Todd (2007) - At least it isn't as bad as Alice and Willy Wonka

Viewing context:
Film4. Had it on the +box for a while, but was a little resistant to watch it after feeling so emotionally numb after seeing both the Willy Wonka and the Alice films.

Directed by Tim Burton who has me viciously divided internally. I still have a lot of love for Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks and the Batmans. I LOVE Corpse Bride (definitely spurred on by my son’s love for it and incessantly repeated viewings). Yet, I really cannot stand his newer films - Willy Wonka and Alice. Haven’t yet seen, but fully intend to watch Big Fish. Screenplay by John Logan, who has written the upcoming Rango, which I am keen to see with Corey. He also wrote The Aviator and had a hand in the Gladiator screenplay

What Happened:
Johnny Depp’s Benjamin Barker returns to London under the alias of Sweeney Todd after a life in exile. He intends to exact revenge on the crooked judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) who raped his wife and was the reason that Barker was sent away. Teaming up with Helena Bonham Carter’s Mrs Lovett, he supplies the fresh meat that she needs to liven up her pie shop.

Although it was mostly spectacle, it did have some thematic points. Mrs Lovett and Todd represent the skilled working classes: a baker and a hairdresser; both representing entrepreneurial sensibilities and have to work for a living. In the period in which the film is set, anybody well-off enough to pay for their shave must be part of the middle classes, most clearly embodied by Todd’s original inspiration for this killing spree, judge Turpin. Therefore Todd has no qualms with dispatching these individuals to the meat grinder, whilst biding his time for the judge himself. The song when they hatched the plan was inspired by seeing these social types (Lawyers, Vicars, Bankers, etc) outside on the streets, walking around as if greater than the common man.

What it did particularly well:
Once it got going, the spectacle of some of the scenes was entertaining. Bonham-Carter’s character, I actually really like, which quite surprised me.

Where it may have fallen short, unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
Couldn’t help going in biased against the Depp-Carter-Burton triangle after severely disliking Alice and Willy Wonka. This prejudice was not helped by the sterile opening and Depp’s first song, which was the most uncinematic of a pretty uncinematic bunch of musical numbers. Although there were a couple of good numbers, most were too static and seemed forced. Considering I had just seen The Princess and the Frog and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, both films where these things came across much more fluid and organic, I was pretty disappointed on the whole.

Performance of the film:
Sacha Baron Cohen as the fraudulently uber-Italian rival barber

Scene of the film:
The introduction of Sacha Baron Cohen as the rival barber was the point that injected life into the film, which it managed to maintain up until the final act where it unravels a little.

Most outstanding or memorable feature:
The couple of songs that it got right were great (they were just too few)

No comments:

Post a Comment