The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: DreamWorks - 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 116 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
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"
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.
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.
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)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
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.
- (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
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.
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