Tuesday 18th January 2022

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (18)
Directed by: Tim Burton
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Here's some news for you: Tim Burton has made a film that doesn't star Johnny Depp or his wife Helena Bonham Carter. Furthermore, it is not set in a dark and creepy atmosphere with the colour drained out of every shot and... oh, wait a second, that's all nonsense, isn't it?

Wallace and Grommit have nothing on one of Depp's close shaves
Wallace and Grommit have nothing on one of Depp's close shaves

That's right, Burton's up to his old tricks again, this time adapting the stage musical version of Sweeney Todd, the blood-thirsty barber who liked to turn his customers into meat pies, back in the day when barbers actually shaved people. It's gruesome stuff alright, and you'd have to say expertly executed by Burton and his usual team – which is only what you'd expect after all the practice they've had at making this sort of film.

What I'm unsure of, however, is the concept as a whole. I've never been comfortable with characters talking in rhymes, springing into perfectly choreographed movements at random or singing their innermost thoughts to the audience, especially outside of a Disney film. However, combining that idea with some bloody (albeit theatrical) violence and gore, surely does nothing but earn you an 18 certificate and alienate the bulk of the musical-watching audience.

Nevertheless, I can't fault Burton's technique. He's firmly stamped his well-worn style on this film, got great performances out of a great cast and in all honesty, if you wanted to produce a bloodthirsty, 18 certificate musical, you couldn't do it any better. It's a great example of the genre. The question for me is always going to be, why would you want to? For my money, with awards season in full flow, there are better things to see at the moment.

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Length: 116 minutes
Certificate: 18
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 25th January 2008

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3%93.3% (93.3%)

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