I knew Sweeney Todd was going to be a musical, I just wasn’t expecting it to be that musical, nearly every single word is sung, with a few exceptions – Alan Rickman I’m looking at you, oh forget it Alan I could never be mad at you. And the effect is disconcerting, I’m not the genres biggest fan and let’s face it; Musicals are weird, it’s the bewildering tendency to burst into song over the most inconsequential things, raining? Iconic song and dance number. Fond of hills? Feel good belter with sweeping cinematic shots of the Austrian countryside. The reason Sweeney Todd works, just, is that the subject matter isn’t only not what we would call inconsequential or fluffy, but is downright horrific, including; a song sung earnestly to his dangerous shaving equipment, a ditty about what different types of person would taste like in pies, and a moving ode to a daughter, sung, of course, while the protagonist casually slices men’s throats open and deposits the bodies, skull first, into the cellar.

Of course the real reason most people will go to see this, myself included, is the visuals, and yes, Tim Burton and his unique vision finally lives up to his promise and makes his first decent film since Batman Returns, showing a stylised London of opulent and decaying beauty, sumptuous costume and direction that, while visually interesting, doesn’t get in the way of the story. The predicable casting of Johnny Depp works, in so far as Depp (dodgy singing aside) is as watchable as ever and is never asked to do anything more than brood, really want to kill people, and then actually kill people. Equally as predicable but eminently more beneficial is Helena Bonham Carter, who simply acts rings round the rest of the cast as the pragmatic Mrs Lovett and gives several extra dimensions to a potentially flat character. Also notable is Alan Rickman, who can make any bad guy at least a little likable, and not despite their evil but because of it, and Sacha Baron Cohen in a swaggering scenery chewing bit part.

So in short a surprising film, the choices that were made during the making of the film may not of been all that of a shock (Johnny Depp! Helena Bonham Carter! Washed out palette with stylised visuals?!! Surely not?!!) But the fact that they work is the real surprise.

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