"Sweeney Todd" officially bowed in New York Monday night (scroll down for pictures),and the critics love it. Tim Burton's film adaption of the musical, stars Johnny Depp (who sings and dances) as the demon barber, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen. One thing that may hurt the film, is the nonstop gore and gurgling blood throughout the film.
Both sharp and fleet, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" proves a satisfying screen version of Stephen Sondheim's landmark 1979 theatrical musical. Where much could have gone wrong, things have turned out uniformly right thanks to highly focused direction by Tim Burton, expert screw-tightening by scenarist John Logan, and haunted and musically adept lead performances from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Assembled artistic combo assures the film will reap by far the biggest audience to see a pure Sondheim musical, although just how big depends on the upscale crowd's tolerance for buckets of blood, and the degree to which the masses stay away due to the whiff of the highbrow.
And the Hollywood Reporter loved the film as well:
The musical numbers ooze with Sondheim's audacious wit and scathing lyrics. A lullaby conveys menace. A waltz celebrates conspiracy. Cynicism runs through all the songs' social critique.
The blood juxtaposed to the music is highly unsettling. It runs contrary to expectations. Burton pushes this gore into his audiences' faces so as to feel the madness and the destructive fury of Sweeney's obsession. Teaming with Depp, his long-time alter ego, Burton makes Sweeney a smoldering dark pit of fury and hate that consumes itself. With his sturdy acting and surprisingly good voice, Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages.
Meanwhile, Fox News's Roger Friedman called it his favorite movie of the year:
I told you last week about Johnny Depp's Oscar-certain performance as the crazy barber who cuts people's throats while waiting to avenge himself on his enemies.
What maybe I didn't make clear is that Helena Bonham Carter is a delight as Mrs. Lovett, who turns Sweeney's victims into meat pies. She is acerbic, sarcastic, sexy and she can sing. She may come from behind and out run the two potential Best Actress front runners, Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose") and Julie Christie ("Away From Her").
The other performance not to be missed is Sacha Baron Cohen, who sheds his Borat/Ali G persona and literally steals the movie as Pirelli, the faux Italian snake oil salesman who confronts Sweeney and tries to blackmail him with horrendous results.
"Sweeney Tood" opens Decemeber 21.