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Tue, Sept. 17

Movie Review: 'Sweeney Todd'

Johnny Depp and Helena 
Bonham Carter play a dark duo in Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Sweeney Todd.”


Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter play a dark duo in Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Sweeney Todd.” Courtesy

Playing: Harkins Prescott Valley 14, 775-7444

Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen, Laura Michelle Kelly.

Plot: Benjamin Barker was a talented young barber with a beautiful, devoted wife, Lucy - until the lascivious Judge Turpin developed an infatuation with Lucy, and had Barker imprisoned on false charges in order to get him out of the way.

Years later, Barker escapes from prison and returns to

London with a new name - Sweeney Todd - and begins a campaign of vengeance, using the familiar tools of his trade: his barber's knives.

He meets Mrs. Lovett (Carter), a woman who serves "the worst pies in London," and begins working out of the upstairs of her business. The two come to an arrangement in which Todd kills victims, slitting their throats at his barber's chair, and Lovett cooks them into her pies, thus disposing of the bodies.

However, he and Lovett find it increasingly difficult to hide their bloody business from the prying eyes of the community.

Lovett tries repeatedly to express her love for Todd, in whom she sees her own darkness reflected, but Todd is too consumed by vengeance to ever be capable of love.

Star Player: Johnny Depp drives the entire macabre musical forward as the homicidal barber. Perhaps he's not the most proficient singer, but he more than makes up for it in intensity.

Best Line: "There's a hole in the world like a great black pit /and the vermin of the world inhabit it /and its morals aren't worth what a pin can spit/ and it goes by the name of London."

My Take: The musical "Sweeny Todd" is almost too perfectly suited for a Tim Burton movie adaptation. Its grim subject matter and gothic aesthetic, combined with the upbeat musical numbers and essentially jesting approach to violence, perfectly suit the archetypal band of stars, led by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, while also including such unique talents as Alan Rickman and "Borat's" Sacha Baron Cohen, giving the movie a great sense of personality. And some of them can sing, too - mostly.

"Sweeney Todd" isn't for everyone. People who consider themselves Tim Burton fans will probably like it, as it's a distillation of his style of moviemaking. For fans of musicals, it's hard to say. The music itself is enjoyable, but most of the tunes stand out more for their lyrics and context rather than the composition or singing itself.

The film is gory, but in a comically surrealist way, with the most liberal use of comically bright-red blood since "Kill Bill," or possibly the painting of a barn.

Unique, silly, darkly beautiful and haunting, "Sweeney Todd" delivers with a musical tour through Burton-land, in which arterial fluid never stops spraying, and anyone could burst into song at any time.

Stars: Four out of five.

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