One of my favorite musicals is "Sweeney Todd" and I have been looking forward to the movie version for months. Since it also happens to be one of reveilles' least favorite musicals, I knew I was going to have to see it without her. So, I went to a matinee showing on the Saturday before Christmas.
This was an excellent version of the musical. Because they could do movie-style special effects, Burton really brought out the horror aspects of the show. This was a very bloody movie, but it was effective and didn't seem too over the top.
What worked well:
- Johnny Depp: Although he didn't have the big baritone singing voice that Sweeneys usually have, Depp's more rock-style voice really worked well in the part. Depp's acting was also excellent, I really believed him as a killer.
- Helena Bonham Carter's acting: Carter played Mrs. Lovett as much more aware than I've seen other people play it. For example, Angela Lansbury's Lovett always seemed less aware of what was going on and she somehow managed to make the character seem cute. Carter's Lovett, on the other hand, was a full participant in what was going on and seemed the intellectual equal to Sweeney.
- Casting Toby as very young: Normally Toby is played by someone in their early 20s and the character comes off as simple. Since Toby starts to piece together what is going on (i.e., Sweeney killing people), having the character be young and more astute worked well. It also make Toby's murder of Sweeney much more shocking.
- Seeing the meat pies eaten: I've always known that Lovett baked people into the meat pies, but in the stage version, you never see people eating pies (since they are singing). Seeing people actually eat the meat pies, which could only happen in a movie, was an image that started to turn my stomach. Just one way Burton did a good job bringing out the horror aspects of the show.
What didn't work as well:
- Helena Bonham Carter's singing: While Carter's acting was top notch, her singing voice was very thin. Since I knew the show very well going in to the movie, I knew what lyrics she was singing, but making them out was difficult since she had trouble being heard over the orchestra. This was a disappointment since Sondheim's lyrics are top notch.
- Dropping the Beggar Woman's part throughout the show: In the stage version, the Beggar Woman meets Sweeney very early on, says "Hey Mister, don't I know you", and gets shooed away by Sweeney. This provides a reason for her to be hanging around the pie shop. Since the two of them didn't meet until almost the end of the movie, it really didn't make sense why she would be hanging around the pie shop, unless you knew the Beggar Woman was Sweeney's wife, but that hadn't been revealed yet. So I think this cut hurt the story slightly.
Things I was sad to see cut:
- The longer version of "A Little Priest": This is such a fun song with great lyrics. I was sorry to see half of it cut out.
- Dropping "Kiss Me": Since it doesn't add a lot to the story, I can understand why this song was cut. But it's such a difficult song to sing that I missed the attempt.
- The choral section of "God, That's Good!": Since there were no choral numbers in the movie, I can understand why this was cut. But, every time they played the notes to the lyric "God, That's Good!", my brain filled in the choral part and then kept going, which I found very distracting and I had to keep forcing myself to watch the movie and not fill in the missing choral parts.