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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Swifty Reviews 'Sweeney Todd' With Lune

Sweeney Todd poster


I saw Sweeney Todd two weeks ago, since I generally like most musicals, I rather enjoyed the film, though to me, it's a 'good but not great' film. Nonetheless, I have been looping the soundtrack on my computer a lot these days.

The following review is done with my friend, Lune (back in 2005, she and I collaborated in the Blogathon, in which we alternated between her drawing pictures, and me writing a novella based on her drawings, our collaboration was awesome, considering that we conjured all those up in 24 hours), who having seen the musical, ain't that impressed with the film adaptation.

I said:
Tell me then. To you, what are the pros and cons of the Sweeney Todd film?
She said:
to point out the cons is easy i guess.
She said:
it's just very Burton
She said:
everyone is typecast in the roles that they would normally play, so there really wasn't any element of surprise there
She said:
and let's just say that Sweeney Todd is like a nasty Edward Scissorhands with razors
I said:
Uh huh
She said:
Pros - more people get to know about sweeney todd and also sondheim's genius.
I said:
Yeah, and people like me will start checking out the original stage musical the film was adapted from. In fact, I've been looping the soundtrack on my computer quite a lot lately.
She said:
though i guess that bit is pretty much overshadowed by Burton again. not that Burton's vision of the musical isn't great. I do think Burton has synthesized alot of the elements that he used in his past films and thus has perfected a certain skill and penchant for the dark and gothic
She said:
Sondheim was also responsible for west side story
I said:
Yeah. I like Burton and I guess he's great at what he usually does. His signature style is very distinctive
I said:
But I agree that his style tends to overshadow his works
I said:
It's what I thought of his last work, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
She said:
But yeah, that was exactly what i was dreading when I went to see sweeney todd.
She said:
I've seen it on the stage and i've heard the original cast on the cd, so my views have some biasness to it.
She said:
I see it as a character piece very rare in musicals
I said:
So it's impossible for you to judge it for what it is? Pretend that the stage musical had never existed?
She said:
it's enjoyable but lack surprise element.
I said:
Uh huh. Even though I knew nothing about the musical, I could guess all the twists in the film
I said:
... like the identity of the beggar woman when she first appeared
I said:
(keep this spoiler-free!)
She said:
But when you think about it from a musical theatre perspective
She said:
It's groundbreaking. it's a total broadway gem. it borders between musical and opera. it's dark and horrific instead of the usual jolly fare
She said:
hence often regarded as one of sondheim's best
I said:
Hmm. Better than West Side Story huh?
She said:
i don't know if you can compare both because west side story is so much more romantic. and there's often much emphasis on the song and dance, rather than the plot
I said:
Yeah
I said:
All right, what do you think about the acting in the film?
I said:
No surprises?
She said:
yup no surprises....bonham carter is perhaps the worst of them lot
She said:
i don't like helena bonham carter's mrs lovett
She said:
and they chopped off the lovely lovely duet of anthony n johanna
I said:
WHAT?
I said:
i LOVE mrs lovett!
She said:
surely surely the greatness of sondheim is not yet forgotten?
I said:
oh damn
I said:
well, they had to cram 3 hours worth of shit into 2 hours
I said:
so they sacrificed anthony and johanna
She said:
that was a bloody beautiful duet you know
She said:
mrs lovett is not brash enough
She said:
the characters are traditionally very working class.
She said:
n depp sounds like david bowie.
She said:
david bowie comment was from my bf
She said:
i wouldn't say it's a brilliant film. it's predictably burton, depp and bonham carter
I said:
yeah, it ain't
She said:
it's well made but not great. everyone's typecasted
I said:
My little sister's crazy over Alan Rickman's singing voice ("So sexy!" she gushed)
She said:
lol. alan rickman. he should not sing
She said:
pretty women's quite a tough score to sing though
She said:
It's a delicate balance of being manly yet gentle
I said:
Heh, I love that song!
She said:
I guess it's unsurprising that you like Pretty Women, it's the song that everyone remembered sweeney todd for.
She said:
the classic tune
I said:
I like By The Sea too
She said:
i'm still bummed out that they chopped the anthony n johanna duet off. not even west side story was as romantic as that
I said:
Why is Bonham Carter weak again?
She said:
she's just her kooky usual
I said:
Hm. Yeah, a slightly saner version of her Bellatrix character in Harry Potter
I said:
I don't know, I once mentioned (to Su Ann) that Tim Burton is a little... 'one note' as a director. He's great at what he does, like Tarantino, but occasionally, his style overwhelms his works. However, there isn't a Burton film I hate, except for the Planet of the Apes remake.
I said:
So he brought his nice gothic style to Sweeney Todd, and I personally thought his style worked better for a tale like this... compared to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
I said:
I liked Helena Bonham Carter's Mrs Lovett, but maybe because I've already been too used to her kookiness, so having a larger-than-usual dose of it felt like a blessing to me.
I said:
I actually thought her performance was one of the best in the film.
I said:
As for Depp, well, I'm impressed that he, er, attempted to sing.
I said:
But I'm not blown away enough by his performance to immediately think "YES! OSCAR NOMINATION!" (which he had received for the film)
She said:
yeah i don't think he deserves a nomination
I said:
Which is surprising, since I thought he deserved his previous nominations with Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and Finding Neverland
She said:
his performance wasn't exactly breathtaking
I said:
Yeah, just angsty in a humourous way.
I said:
I thought the kid who played Toby was good though.
She said:
yeah me too
She said:
and don't get me started on sacha baron cohen
I said:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
She said:
i liked him better when he isn't feigning his borat/ ali g -esque italian accent
I said:
Not much to add on this review, myself. My take is, it's a nice film, quite enjoyable despite being rather predictable, but the songs, and the musical sequences, are really good. It's probably one of Burton's better films since MARS ATTACKS!
I said:
But strangely, I think I might like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE more (though the film belongs more to the 'love it or hate it' category)
I said:
because of its audacity.
I said:
Sweeney Todd just felt very... 'safe'.
She said:
todd is a box office pleaser no doubt about it
I said:
Although with around 50-60 million for its domestic box-office, it's hardly a massive blockbuster hit, hm. Probably got a bad rep because the marketing campaign concealed the fact that it’s a musical.



Sweeney Todd trailer


Angela Lansbury's version of Mrs Lovett singing BY THE SEA


Patti Lupone sings BY THE SEA


George Hearn's voice is better than Johnny Depp, heh


(not sure which Johanna/Anthony song Lune was referring to that was omitted from the film, it could be 'KISS ME')



KISS ME




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