I am now convinced after seeing the wickedly delightful ‘‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Baker on Fleet Street” that there is no role too great for Johnny Depp.
He made pirates cool in Pirates of the Caribbean; played a creepy Michael Jackson-esque Willie Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and now the man proves to be quite the adept singer in a big screen adaptation of a Broadway musical.
Depp is Sweeney Todd, who returns to London in search of revenge after his wife and daughter were kidnapped by the heinous Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.)
Taken in by the eccentric meat pie baker, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Todd plots to enjoy his long sought payback and kill Turpin.
He takes a decidedly less than therapeutic method for dealing with his aggression: slashing the throats of patrons of his barber parlor.
Mrs. Lovett finds her own uses for Todd’s new hobby and the two began a macabre romance when he isn’t obsessing over Turpin. Carter is amazing and she more than holds her own opposite Depp – not getting lost in the force of his performance but keeping the audience just as entertained and enthralled with Lovett.
The sinister pair even become a twisted family as they take in the young orphan Tobias (Ed Sanders who makes a great feature film debut). Sweeney Todd reunites Depp and his frequent collaborator Tim Burton.
Burton has one of the great imaginative minds in the business. While he likely would have excelled in a number of creative art fields, moviegoers would have been cheated of the larger than life sets and unique vision he brings to all of his films, and Sweeney Todd is no different. Whether it’s a dank, dark alley or a vibrant oceanfront, your eyes are in for a visual feast.
The score is fantastic, which makes sense considering the film’s Broadway origin. At times, however, the music is a little too bombastic and drowns out the actors during their musical numbers.
You’ll need a strong stomach as the movie takes its sinister turn. Todd begins offing his customers and the blood squirts like it’s the third installment of Kill Bill making for a pretty gruesome second act.
Sweeney Todd is a truly unique experience and while sickly twisted, is one of the best films of the year for its scope, performances and inspired direction.