Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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Old 10-14-2008, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=120094&d=1221828941
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

92






Studio and Year: DreamWorks - 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 116 Minutes
Genre: Musical/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall,
Directed by: Tim Burton
Music by: Stephen Sondheim
Written by: John Logan
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 21, 2008







"Never forget. Never forgive"



Film Synopsis:

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton join forces again in a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical thriller "Sweeney Todd." Depp stars in the title role as a man unjustly sent to prison who vows revenge, not only for that cruel punishment, but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop, Sweeney Todd becomes the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who "shaved the heads of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard from again." Joining Depp is Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney's amorous accomplice, who creates diabolical meat pies. The cast also includes Alan Rickman, who portrays the evil Judge Turpin, who sends Sweeney to prison and Timothy Spall as the Judge's wicked associate Beadle Bamford and Sacha Baron Cohen is a rival barber, the flamboyant Signor Adolfo Pirelli.




My Take:

attachment.php?attachmentid=122007&d=1224008224

I am not certain that I would call myself a fan of musicals but I have seen a number of them and have liked them all. I remember when Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of Fleet Street was released last year. I never considered going to see it theatrically. I like Johnny Depp and Tim Burton collaborations but this didn’t stir any real interest for me. When I saw it was announced for Blu-ray release I looked forward to the opportunity to review it. I didn’t read anything about it prior to seeing it so I went in with no real background or expectations. I have to say that I really enjoyed this film. The cast did their own singing parts and while they weren’t virtuosic performances they were good just the same. I much prefer it this way as it lends an air of realism to the characters. As far as the story goes, this is a dark and violent film about redemption, love, and no second chances. I have never seen the stage production so I have no point of reference. There is an underlying comedic side to the story that could easily be missed. Depp gives another great performance in the lead role. His often pensive demeanor and distant stare play perfectly against the brutal and cold aggression he shows toward his victims. Carter is absolutely wonderful as Sweeney Todd’s meat pie baking accomplice and confidant. Alan Rickman is perfectly cast as the villainous Judge Turpin. I have been a fan of his since I first saw him in Die hard and he has yet to disappoint me when portraying the bad guy. Burton’s creative direction and incredible set design brings period London to life with splendor. Last but not least is the beautiful music of Stephen Sondeim which is truly the backbone of the story. As I stated earlier this may not be a film for everyone as it is violent and dark in its telling. However those who appreciate well written and acted musicals are in for a real treat.




Parental Guide:

The rating is for graphic and bloody violence.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 90



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699



Video: 94


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699
attachment.php?attachmentid=122006&d=1224008224

Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of Fleet Street comes to Blu-ray disc from DreamWorks featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.

This is a reference quality video presentation that looked superb. Images are visually arresting and have a rich dynamic quality that highlights its near flawless rendering of detail. The video had a three dimensional and razor sharp clarity that never left me wanting. The visual design is pure Tim Burton as it features a limited color scheme that is aesthetically perfect for the subject matter. The majority of the film boasts deep shades of gray, sepia, blue, beige, green, white and black. These colors are not vivid in tonality but their depiction is stark and fully appreciable onscreen. There are several sequences where a broader and vivacious color palette is utilized to completely change the sentiment of the scene. One such example is during the “By the sea” montage where Mrs. Lovett imagines that herself, Sweeney Todd and Toby are living in a cottage by the sea. Colors are deeply saturated with lustrous vibrancy and succulent textures that literally leap off of the screen. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide angle shots of the darkened streets, buildings and alleyways of London looked stunning. Flesh tones are not overtly complex in tone but appear diverse in subtle structure and complexional makeup. This is a sophisticated visual design that uses real imagery mixed with CGI. The end result is a superlative video presentation that truly evokes the emotion of the film.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD sound mix delivered the goods as well and was near reference quality. Being a musical it is important that the music be the focal point. Right from the opening moments it was obvious that wasn’t going to be a problem. This is a beautifully crafted soundtrack that exudes the purity and emotion of the message within the music. The entire surround platform was used to present the instrumental performance. The front three channels and subwoofer carried the bulk of the audio with the surrounds providing ambience to seamlessly bridge the gap between the front and rear sound fields. The result was a blissful aural experience that was satisfying, engaging and room filling. Instrument placement was discernible amidst the spatially wide soundstage. Brass instruments sounded full bodied with smooth tonality and no signs of brittle or edgy highs. The bass drum supplied tight, punchy low end that had quick attack and medium decay that resonated long enough to be felt in my chair. Dialogue was crystalline with appreciable inflection and non sibilant character. The soundtrack was rich in clarity and detail which allowed the subtle environmental effects to easily be heard. The mix created a stable and immersive surround sound experience that achieved excellent balance so that all of the elements inherent in the recording could be realized. It sounded really good.



Bonus Features:


  • (HD) Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd - Featurette

  • (HD) Sweeney Todd is alive!: The real history of the demon barber - Documentary

  • (HD) Musical mayhem: Soundheim’s Sweeney Todd - Featurette

  • (HD) Sweeney’s London - Featurette

  • The making of Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of Fleet Street - Featurette

  • (HD) Grand Guignol: theatrical tradition - Featurette

  • (HD) Designs for a demon barber - Featurette

  • (HD) A bloody business – make up effects - Featurette

  • Moviefone unscripted: With Tim Burton and Johnny Depp

  • (HD) The razor’s refrain - Featurette

  • Photo gallery

  • (HD) Theatrical trailer
attachment.php?attachmentid=122008&d=1224008224



Final Thoughts:

Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of Fleet Street is a beautifully adapted version of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s musical by Director Tim Burton. The cast did a marvelous job which proves once again that Depp + Burton + Carter = winner. DreamWorks has brought this film to high definition Blu-ray Disc sporting comprehensive bonus content and extraordinary audio/video quality. This film might not be everyone’s cup of tea however I can assure you that experiencing it in high definition is sure to put a smile on your face.








attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






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Old 10-14-2008, 01:30 PM
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Ralph -- thanks for the nice review. I loved this BD, too, but it should not be surprising because Sweeney is my all-time favorite musical. My wife and I first saw it on Broadway in 1980, starring the quintessential Sweeney, George Hearn, and Angela Lansbury, everybody's favorite Mrs. Lovett. This musical is Stephen Sondheim at his best, with its haunting music and super-smart lyrics. Many people forget that Sondheim got his start on Broadway as a lyricist, not as a composer.

Tim Burton and his great cast bring a lot to the work. Johnny Depp as Sweeney could not have been better dramatically and was better than adequate vocally, as were both Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin and Sacha Baron Cohen as Pirelli. Who would have thought it? Dramatically, Helena Bonham Carter was wonderful, too, but really had too small a voice to make the most of the demanding music Mrs. Lovett has to sing. Bringing out the best in those songs requires a huge musical theater voice like Lansbury's or Patti LuPone's. By the way, LuPone starred opposite George Hearn in the wonderful 2001 Concert version of Sweeney. It's available on DVD. The dark, mostly muted, look of the film works well, too, particularly when the violent red of flowing blood is fed (sorry, couldn't resist) into the mix.

I also thought a lot of the performances of the very young Jamie Campbell Bower and Jayne Wisener as Anthony and Johanna, respectively. Speaking of young, I could not believe the performance the then 13 or 14 year old Ed Sanders gave as Toby.

This Sweeney would be a fine introduction for somebody who wants to dip a toe into Sondheim's water. It works. Highly recommended.
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Old 10-14-2008, 03:13 PM
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Been holding off watching this one on DVD, waiting for a Blu release, and it looks like the wait will be worth it. Thanks, Ralph.

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Old 10-14-2008, 04:15 PM
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I Did see the stage production and overall they did a very good job with giving the movie the same flavor the stage production had. The only real difference is that they did away with the Chorus music which was in the stage play. But the score still works very well, of course Sondheim was consulted and I am sure that helped a lot.
The casting was as mentioned really spot on.
I am a major Johnny Depp fan and as soon as I heard about this production which was some time before the public at large I could not wait to see what Johnny would do with it and he did an incredible job as always.

Sweeny Todd was in fact the last movie I got to see in my theater before moving to CA.

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Old 10-14-2008, 04:40 PM
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Thanks Ralph.

Sounds like one to buy. My wife and I saw this on Broadway starring Angela Lansbury and IIRC Len Cariou as Sweeney. Hard to believe it's been almost 30 years. Took almost the entire first act to understand the cockney accents. It was a hoot.

Keep the reviews coming!

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Old 10-14-2008, 04:58 PM
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Excellent review Ralph, thank you! This one was not even on my radar, just one of those titles that I figured I would check out when I felt like a dark musical. I'm not familiar with the story but after reading your review I placed a pre-order for it.

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Old 10-14-2008, 05:29 PM
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I'm looking forward to seeing this release. If anyone is interested in the original broadway production starring George Hearns and Angela Lansbury, it is also available on DVD.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco70 View Post

Sounds like one to buy. My wife and I saw this on Broadway starring Angela Lansbury and IIRC Len Cariou as Sweeney. Hard to believe it's been almost 30 years. Took almost the entire first act to understand the cockney accents. It was a hoot.

I am sorry to say that I missed Cariou’s performance, although George Hearn, his replacement who I did see on Broadway, is best remembered for his Sweeney. Interestingly, Cariou won the Best Musical Actor Tony for his performance but Hearn won it in 1984 for his performance in La Cage aux Folles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wej5541 View Post

I'm looking forward to seeing this release. If anyone is interested in the original broadway production starring George Hearns and Angela Lansbury, it is also available on DVD.

The DVD of the Broadway production with Hearn and Lansbury is great dramatically and musically, starring as it does the two best leads of all time as Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett. Although Len Cariou was the original Sweeney, and won a Tony for his performance, Hearn, in my estimation, is the best Sweeney of all time. Check out the DVD of his 2001 concert performance with Patti LuPone and you will see what I mean. Technically, alas, the 1982 DVD of the Broadway production shows its age. It was filmed in 4:3 format and the quality of both its picture and sound are significantly below modern standards. I first owned it on VHS tape and, unfortunately, the DVD doesn't look or sound much better.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:24 PM
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Sounds like a real treat, thanks Ralph.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:39 PM
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I never considered going to see it theatrically ... may not be a film for everyone ... this film might not be everyone's cup of tea

I don't think that was necessary. I know you said many positive things too, but it felt to me like you were apologizing for liking the film, and only half-heartedly endorsing it ("those who appreciate ... musicals are in for a real treat"). Sweeney Todd may not be everyone's cup of tea, but no movie is, and even blockbusters like Transformers aren't everyone's cup of tea.

Otherwise, the more technical parts of you review were great.
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Old 10-14-2008, 06:41 PM
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Very nice review, I have been looking forward to this release for a while now.



How long are the extra features?

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Old 10-14-2008, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan_H View Post

I don't think that was necessary. I know you said many positive things too, but it felt to me like you were apologizing for liking the film, and only half-heartedly endorsing it ("those who appreciate ... musicals are in for a real treat"). Sweeney Todd may not be everyone's cup of tea, but no movie is, and even blockbusters like Transformers aren't everyone's cup of tea.

Otherwise, the more technical parts of you review were great.

Greetings,

Thanks for posting Evan. Actually I wasn't apologizing at all and clearly stated how much I enjoyed the film. Based upon that I am recommending it but as such want to point out that there are elements in this story that some viewers may find objectionable. My impressions of the movie are purely subjective and as such I want to provide readers with an overview of what to expect. As far as seeing it theatrically my comments are true. Seeing a film like this in theaters is not something that I would do. Its not anything against the film itself but is more of a genre thing.


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Old 10-15-2008, 05:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Very nice review, I have been looking forward to this release for a while now.



How long are the extra features?

Greetings,

The longest are the Burton + Depp + Carter, Making of, and Grand Guignol pieces which total around and hour and 10 minutes. The remaining features average roughly anywhere from 3 to 12 minutes each.

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Old 10-15-2008, 09:14 AM
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Hi Ralph,

Thanks for the review, but could you possibly confirm if this is a different encode from the English BD release? I loved the movie (although there's a tiny detail at the end that could have made the movie SO much better and increased the pathos tenfold), and couldn't wait so I got the UK release months ago.

To my dismay, it had atrocious and unfathomable DNR/searing/blurriness/waxiness - but only around the nose and cheeks! And for a movie that is all about showing the lines and grit and dark-rimmed eyes, the suits decided no, Depp and Carter are good-looking (they didn't touch other characters!) stars and therefore we need to smooth them over!

The thing is they DNRd just those bits of their faces - and then neglected to put any film grain back over the top so that it matched the rest of the frame! So basically it looks worse than if they'd never touched it.

So that's the Brit/Aus release. Can you tell me if this one is different? Becuase I'd never give the Blu-ray Sweeney Todd I saw 94 in a million years... 64 maybe. DNR and EE are indeed the devil.

I suffer from sexy dyslexia - I prefer black bras on my screen.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Thanks for posting Evan. Actually I wasn't apologizing at all and clearly stated how much I enjoyed the film. Based upon that I am recommending it but as such want to point out that there are elements in this story that some viewers may find objectionable. My impressions of the movie are purely subjective and as such I want to provide readers with an overview of what to expect. As far as seeing it theatrically my comments are true. Seeing a film like this in theaters is not something that I would do. Its not anything against the film itself but is more of a genre thing.

Despite being a Sweney-head myself, I agreed with your caveat. After all, it's probably wise to warn folks in advance about a movie involving rape, serial murder for profit, and unconscious cannibalism.
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:03 AM
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REALLY interested if there are any differences from the UK version. Was hoping they might include DTS-MA but knew it was probably unlikely. Now I can only hope they removed the pathetically amateur and unnecessary skin smoothing on some of the scenes.
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Old 10-16-2008, 11:01 AM
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Now if I can only get pass the BLOOD then I would really appreciate the movie in Blu Ray on my TV. I actually though it was a good movie but I don't think many of my friends could watch it on my home theater system. They would either pass out or throw up with all the bloody scenes in the movie. Guess I will have to watch it by myself.
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:08 PM
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Now if I can only get pass the BLOOD then I would really appreciate the movie in Blu Ray on my TV. I actually though it was a good movie but I don't think many of my friends could watch it on my home theater system. They would either pass out or throw up with all the bloody scenes in the movie. Guess I will have to watch it by myself.

Sure but the blood isn't realistic at all - definitely the "bright red paint" style!

I'd understand if they couldn't stand the horrendous DNR though...

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Old 10-16-2008, 09:42 PM
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Gee, maybe just a rental to start.
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Old 10-17-2008, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by half vader View Post

Hi Ralph,

Thanks for the review, but could you possibly confirm if this is a different encode from the English BD release? I loved the movie (although there's a tiny detail at the end that could have made the movie SO much better and increased the pathos tenfold), and couldn't wait so I got the UK release months ago.

To my dismay, it had atrocious and unfathomable DNR/searing/blurriness/waxiness - but only around the nose and cheeks! And for a movie that is all about showing the lines and grit and dark-rimmed eyes, the suits decided no, Depp and Carter are good-looking (they didn't touch other characters!) stars and therefore we need to smooth them over!

The thing is they DNRd just those bits of their faces - and then neglected to put any film grain back over the top so that it matched the rest of the frame! So basically it looks worse than if they'd never touched it.

So that's the Brit/Aus release. Can you tell me if this one is different? Becuase I'd never give the Blu-ray Sweeney Todd I saw 94 in a million years... 64 maybe. DNR and EE are indeed the devil.

Greetings,

This appears to be the same. It is not digital noise reduction but rather manipulation that is along the same lines as Ultraviolet but not nearly to the same extent/effect. I honestly don't see it as having any real negative impact on the fidelity or enjoyment of the presentation.


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Old 10-17-2008, 08:40 AM
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Whoa Ralph. I respect your opinion and I'm glad it didn't bother you but I'll have to agree to completely disagree. I think there is an extremely negative impact as it's very distracting (why couldn't they at least have matched grain back over it to match the rest of the frame?!), and not only that but it flies in the face of the logic of the whole film!

I'm disgusted because it completely goes against the tone and storytelling the movie sets up and therefore does disrupt the integrity - I guess it's beyond the comprehension of whoever was responsible that Depp and Carter/their characters (who were the only ones they picked on from memory) are ugly too, metaphorically speaking. They commit they most disgusting acts of anyone!

I wonder if Burton is even aware this was done...

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Old 10-17-2008, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
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This appears to be the same. It is not digital noise reduction but rather manipulation that is along the same lines as Ultraviolet but not nearly to the same extent/effect. I honestly don't see it as having any real negative impact on the fidelity or enjoyment of the presentation.

That's what I think, too. The film is VERY visually stylistic, so I can't understand the rants complaining that some of the flesh tones were rendered so as to appear not very lifelike. After all, there is a lot of other stuff in this film that is not very realistic, the blood for example.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by half vader View Post

Whoa Ralph. I respect your opinion and I'm glad it didn't bother you but I'll have to agree to completely disagree. I think there is an extremely negative impact as it's very distracting (why couldn't they at least have matched grain back over it to match the rest of the frame?!), and not only that but it flies in the face of the logic of the whole film!

I'm disgusted because it completely goes against the tone and storytelling the movie sets up and therefore does disrupt the integrity - I guess it's beyond the comprehension of whoever was responsible that Depp and Carter/their characters (who were the only ones they picked on from memory) are ugly too, metaphorically speaking. They commit they most disgusting acts of anyone!

I wonder if Burton is even aware this was done...

Greetings,

Others who have seen it theatrically indicated that this is how it looked then as well. I respect your feelings on this and if I had to guess am sure that the director is aware if it.

Cheers,

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Old 10-17-2008, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Others who have seen it theatrically indicated that this is how it looked then as well. I respect your feelings on this and if I had to guess am sure that the director is aware if it.

Cheers,

Wow. If it was on the theatrical presentation then count me completely confused. It just doesn't make any sort of sense to me to cake them with white makeup, black circles around the eyes, shoot them harshly precisely to bring out this detail - and then smooth things back out!

But thanks so much Ralph for the info! I appreciate it.

I suffer from sexy dyslexia - I prefer black bras on my screen.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:52 AM
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That's what I think, too. The film is VERY visually stylistic, so I can't understand the rants complaining that some of the flesh tones were rendered so as to appear not very lifelike. After all, there is a lot of other stuff in this film that is not very realistic, the blood for example.



GWSat, I'm not sure if you're referring to me as one of those 'rant' types? I stated the blood thing before, and I never mentioned inaccurate "rendering of flesh tones" (which would mean lifelike skin colours, or lack thereof). I loved the muted palette! Fitted the mood perfectly. As did the blood sticking out so luridly. And her rosy dream of a life together had a great contrast in its more colourful palette.

My problem was that generally everything seemed to be done with the intent of bringing out things like bags under the eyes, weariness through drawn faces and ageing lines, starkness, unflattering caricature and so on - all part of the stylisation (and Burton's love of German Expressionist films). Therefore it made no sense to me that after all this the two stars should have selected features smoothed back again, and seems at odds with everything in the film. But I said nothing about skin tones. And I am a Burton fan, I'm not out to knock anything down out of spite.

Cheers!

I suffer from sexy dyslexia - I prefer black bras on my screen.
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Old 10-22-2008, 03:35 PM
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I wonder how the PQ compares to UK Warner Home Video Release. That one was encoded in VC-1.

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Old 10-23-2008, 12:04 AM
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I truly enjoyed this but very little has been said for the exclusion of the ballad. I understand that to make a movie come in at under two hours you need to make some sacrifices here and there. I really missed the ballad though and the experience, to me, felt incomplete without it.

That said if I may comment on one of the special features, I love Sondheim's work but for him to imply that making a complete film from a broadway musical has never been done before is woefully arrogant and glosses over far greater work done in the past, adapting works by, for example, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Sadly this was one of the first comments I heard in the special features because I started watching them out of order. That, coupled with the exclusion of the ballad and only partial coverage of important songs like "God That's Good!" had me disappointed and unable to take the rest of his interview seriously.

It's just a nit-pick. Overall I really enjoyed this movie.
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:54 PM
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I revere the Broadway soundtrack for Sweeney as one of my all time favorites, but I have to admit that the movie was not my cup of tea at all. Even knowing before watching it that the ballad had been axed for the movie (For the love of God why?!), not hearing the haunting organ and the piercing whistle leading into "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd" just killed it for me. The first few bars of cast vocals on that just immerse me.

Dramatically Johnny Depp was very good with a convincing sociopathic detachment, but vocally he was IMO only passable. I always see Sweeney as a Bari/Bass, a deeper, fuller voice lends the darkness that a "pop" tenor just can't convey. Helena Bonham Carter was just plain wrong on all fronts to me. She was too vacant, too monotone in her delivery and persona to do proper justice to the often times subtle humor. My vocal gripes could be quite easily chalked up to a pre-conceived notion of "how" parts should sound (Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury take a bow), but that is my opinion.

Last criticism was the blood and all too real depiction of the murders. Call me a prude or a wimp, but I think that the same effect, the same tension can be accomplished (possibly even moreso) through the mere suggestion or implication of the violence. Let the audience experience it on an internal level, don't "splatter" the camera with vulgar or cartoony digi-blood. It's a more talented, more artful director that can make the suggestion of something as real as the actual display of the act.

Stylistically I enjoyed the film a great deal. A dark muted palette, served to suggest the downtrodden corner of London that the Sweeney story takes place. Alan Rickman was very good as he always is with the pompous, aloof bad guy persona. Ironically, the best vocal performances were by the yougsters in the cast. I loved the "By the Sea" scene. Burton did a fantastic job using a vivid, colorful palette to provide a dreamy cartoonish contrast to the rest of the movies dark comedy.

For me the movie was a one time rental. The blood and gore, as well as a couple of poor casting choices really hurt it for me. This is not a reflection of the technical merits of the film, but more a personal reflection on the movie itself.
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:32 PM
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I revere the Broadway soundtrack for Sweeney as one of my all time favorites, but I have to admit that the movie was not my cup of tea at all. Even knowing before watching it that the ballad had been axed for the movie (For the love of God why?!), not hearing the haunting organ and the piercing whistle leading into "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd" just killed it for me. The first few bars of cast vocals on that just immerse me.

Dramatically Johnny Depp was very good with a convincing sociopathic detachment, but vocally he was IMO only passable. I always see Sweeney as a Bari/Bass, a deeper, fuller voice lends the darkness that a "pop" tenor just can't convey. Helena Bonham Carter was just plain wrong on all fronts to me. She was too vacant, too monotone in her delivery and persona to do proper justice to the often times subtle humor. My vocal gripes could be quite easily chalked up to a pre-conceived notion of "how" parts should sound (Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury take a bow), but that is my opinion.

Last criticism was the blood and all too real depiction of the murders. Call me a prude or a wimp, but I think that the same effect, the same tension can be accomplished (possibly even moreso) through the mere suggestion or implication of the violence. Let the audience experience it on an internal level, don't "splatter" the camera with vulgar or cartoony digi-blood. It's a more talented, more artful director that can make the suggestion of something as real as the actual display of the act.

Stylistically I enjoyed the film a great deal. A dark muted palette, served to suggest the downtrodden corner of London that the Sweeney story takes place. Alan Rickman was very good as he always is with the pompous, aloof bad guy persona. Ironically, the best vocal performances were by the yougsters in the cast. I loved the "By the Sea" scene. Burton did a fantastic job using a vivid, colorful palette to provide a dreamy cartoonish contrast to the rest of the movies dark comedy.

For me the movie was a one time rental. The blood and gore, as well as a couple of poor casting choices really hurt it for me. This is not a reflection of the technical merits of the film, but more a personal reflection on the movie itself.

The_Target -- I agree that the Broadway production of Sweeney, with Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett and Len Cariou, and his immediate successor, George Hearn, as Sweeney is the gold standard for the show. I saw the show on Broadway, with Hearn and Lansbury in 1980, and own the DVDs of both the 1982 TV production with the same leads and the 2001 San Francisco concert production, with Hearn and Patti LuPone. Nevertheless, despite a few quibbles, I loved Burton's movie, too.

Burton's film is different from the stage production, sometimes significantly so. I, too, was disappointed that The Ballad of Sweeney Todd at the beginning of the show, including the organ prelude and jarring, discordant factory whistle, were eliminated. I also missed the Wigmaker's Sequence, and its brief but beautiful duet between Sweeney and Anthony. Still, there has to be a very good reason for allowing almost any movie to run over two hours. Burton, thanks to his significant cuts, managed to do just that.

My biggest complaint about Burton's movie is the manner in which he Bowdlerized Joanna' escape from Mr. Fogg's Mad House. In the stage production, Joanna shoots Fogg when Anthony loses his nerve while Fogg threatens to disarm him. Thereafter, we see that Joanna is well on her way to becoming just as crazy as her poor doomed mother, Lucy. In the movie, Anthony simply locks Fogg up with the other inmates, which may turnout to be unpleasant for him, but is far less jarring that the beauteous young Joanna gunning him down. Further, Joanna's impending madness is ignored. All of this particularly surprised me because, as you noted, blood and gore were everywhere in the movie, so why did Burton lose his nerve with the asylum scene?

I agree that the voices of the performers in the film are not in the same world as those heard in almost any stage production. Nevertheless, I thought the movie worked. Film is so much more intimate than the stage, it allows for quietness and nuance, unachievable on the stage. The gorgeous singing we got from Lansbury, Cariou, and Hearn was lost, of course, but Depp's paranoia and bitterness were palpable. I also give high marks to Helena Bonham Carter, despite her very small voice. She added depth to Mrs. Lovett's cold blooded murderousness, entrepreneurial zeal, and striving for domestic bliss, I haven't seen on the stage.

The movie was on HBO HD again yesterday and I watched it. Its nearly two hours passed in the twinkling of an eye.
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Old 11-29-2008, 07:12 PM
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Has anyone noticed that the center channel output seems low on this? I have had to boost my center about 4-5 db to make it blend nicely with the fronts.

On a separate note, I think this is a masterful movie by Burton with outstanding performances by Depp and Carter.

David M.
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