Utter Lack of Genius: “Sweeney Todd” Butchered

February 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm (Movies)

Is there a point in fame that, once reached, you can never fall from again?

I watched Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd last night, with the sweet anticipation I have whenever he releases a movie; I have been an avid fan since I was eight and saw Beetlejuice. At the time, I believed it was the best movie ever ever made. It had everything. Love in the Afterlife!! Color!! Deathwishes!! Humor!! Surrealism!! Incredible Music!!

And damn if it still isn’t his best. Ok, it’s in the holy triptych along with Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands. (And Batman is the best Hollywood blockbuster ever.)


Sweeney Todd? His worst movie ever.

No way, you think. She’s probably some bitter actress who screwed up her Burton audition, you’re thinking. It’s gotten rave reviews, right?? Awards n’ stuff, no?? So, it’s got to be great!! Everybody says so, after all.
Not since Big Fish have I been so disappointed with Burton. I nearly left in the middle. Where was the quirkiness?? The seamless mixing of dark humor and childlike fantasy? Most importantly, where was the ART? Was anybody actually looking through the camera?? There seemed to be no direction whatsoever, and all the actors walked through what they know how to do in their sleep. Alan Rickman (who normally I melt into a puddle for) was a complete nonentity; I think he was too bored to even try to make a character for himself. I am certain that more thought went into how he spits out the word “Potter!” than the entirety of his scenes in Sweeney Todd.

And, truth be told, I can’t blame him. He had nothing to do. No one did. The characters were as one-sided as cardboard cut-outs.  Honestly, it was one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. Oh, Depp tried to glare as blackly as he could to show his dark desire for vengeance; but for two hours? And he gets accolades for this? The effort of glaring so much stuck to his face, poor boy, and he couldn’t get it unstuck for the ending to show remorse for accidentally killing his wife.

Sadly, Burton’s relationship with Helena Bonham Carter has been an artistic disaster for both. Where’s the mysterious girl that played Ophelia? In Room with a View you can’t take your eyes off her. But in practically every movie they’ve done together she is a study in mediocrity, emptily sneering at the camera. And this time, her emptiness has permeated throughout the entire movie.  When you yawn when when somebody is pushed into a burning furnace, you know there’s something wrong.

In short, it’s a complete hack job. We do what we know how, give ’em Johnny in his Kabuki make-up, and let’s not sweat it too much because we know that know we are now considered geniuses; just you try ‘Enry ‘Iggins, to say anything bad about us!

I feel cheated.  I love Tim Burton movies. I would like more than anything to go for cotton candy and ride the ferris wheel with him on Coney Island. So what the fuck happened??? How on earth could he lose his humor?? Where did it go??

Let’s get one thing straight: I love splatter movies as much as the next person. It’s Pavlovian; the bigger the geyser of blood, the harder I laugh.  But in Sweeney Todd, it was empty laughter.

The simple fact is, this movie is a spoof. But the director didn’t get it. They should have given it to Mel Brooks. The entire theater would have been crying with laughter. The characters are meant to be one-sided nutters.  I see a girl sewing in a window?? OMG, I’m just gonna grab her and live happily ever after!!! But Burton decided to ignore that and make yet another gothic fantasy.

But a gothic fantasy needs a good story with twists and turns and capital D drama. Sweeney Todd has no suspense, no twists and turns; If it was a twenty minute short that would be fine. But it’s a farce!!! Sweet and Benny Hill-simple.

A farce, and with the worst, most repetitive and unimaginative music to ever grace a Tim Burton film. So strange for someone who actually seems to have an ear for catchy tunes, to watch straight-faced the horrendous “I’ll fiiiiiind you, Joooooaaaaaaanaaaaa,” and not leave it on the cutting room floor.

The biggest farce of all?

That this is “Tim Burton at his Best!!” “Johnny’s Best Acting Ever!!!” 5 stars!! 4.7 stars!!

No, it isn’t. By far. So just admit it.



  1. Karolos said,

    Xexe, hmmm… I have to say i recognise that acerbic style! Nice one phoivaki, thing is you made me want to see the flick just to disagree with you, you were THAT good!

  2. Eleni said,

    You know i disagree, but nicely argued. Meya to blog honey!

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