Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Directed by Tim Burton.
Written by John Logan.  Based on the play by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler.
Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Jamie Campbell Bower and Alan Rickman.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  12/31/07


Tim Burton and Johnny Depp know how to make movies, so add them to a great script from the Stephen Sondheim play and an incredible production design and you get "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", a violent, nasty, puke-inducing...musical!

Benjamin Barker (Depp) has been locked away in prison for the last 15 years...and, when Barker arrives in his hometown London as the film opens, he changes his name to Sweeney Todd and proclaims that he will have vengeance on the man that put him away, a judge named Turpin (Alan Rickman).  This man Turpin is a nasty bugger--he threw Barker into jail just to have a chance to seduce Barker's wife (Laura Michelle Kelly) and, after the wife denies Turpin's advances, he takes Barker's young daughter away and raises her, only in hopes of seducing her, too!  So, after getting back to London, Barker-now-Todd returns to the barber shop where he once worked, in the hopes that he can track down Turpin and get him into his shop for one very, very close shave.  Assisting him is the new owner of the shop, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter),

My thing with musicals is always how the songs are balanced against the non-singing portions of the film; I loved the mix of that in "Sweeney Todd" thanks to the efforts of the performers and the funny song lyrics amidst the macabre nature of the proceedings.  We know that Depp will be great, but I was surprised at how much I liked the songs by the other actors in this film, particularly one-offs by Rickman and the nasty sidekick played by Timothy Spall, as well as Carter and Ed Sanders, a child actor who eventually plays a servant to Mrs. Lovett and her "meat pies" operation.  The songs are great, but they support such a good-looking film and a film that is so soaked in blood it becomes riotous by the time the thing is over.

I mean, nasty!  I don't think some people near me were prepared for the level of blood gushing and then body-crunching sequences that "Sweeney Todd" has.  I, naturally, loved that this was the angle taken by Burton, who did similarly-nasty work with "Sleepy Hollow"; boy, even watching some of the bodies hit the floor after Todd finishes up his work with them is nasty.  However, this will turn off some folks who are a bit squeamish about this kind of stuff.

But, overall, I loved "Sweeney Todd" and would recommend it for folks even if they don't like musicals.  It is still a fun, vengeful film anyway, just not something I would take grandma to see!!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09