Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ★★

The music is consistently great but it's the only persistent strength in this film.  The rest is kind of like Depp's Oscar nominated accent. Constantly lapsing between strong and terrible, but never consistent.

There's the unconvincing green screen, the constant assumption that the audience is familiar enough with the story to forgive the lack of cause and effect and motivation by most of the character, and Burton's continued belief that gothic, gory, and weird for the sake of gothic, gory, and weird are enough to sustain a film.

After I finished this thing, I went and did some reading on the origins.  Reading up on the original Penny Dreadfuls, the slow evolution of various plays throughout the 1800s and 1900s, the 1973 play by Christopher Bond that essentially birthed what we know of Todd today, and Sondheim's discovery and vision to turn that play into a musical with help from Hal Prince.

I am the first person to argue that adaptations should not be held accountable for the source material.  If you're going to adapt something word for word, what's the point?  But Burton essentially stripped out all the complexity, depth, and nuance of Bond, Prince, and Sondheim's versions, all the psychology and allegory.  He threw it all out exclusively for the darkness, macabre, and weirdness.  As he always seems to do.

You can see hints of the original brilliance underneath.  The plot is pretty much identical to the previous incarnation so the metaphor is somewhat in tact, but Burton has no vision or take on this story.  And that's what's disappointing beyond the empty gore and unconvincing theatrics.

He stripped away everything and replaced it with more blood.  The end result is a shallow film with nothing to offer of its own.