Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Burton, 2007)

Burton’s deliciously violent adaptation of the Sondheim musical reiterates a lackluster sensibility concerning the director’s latest work. As with Big Fish, Sweeney Todd displays a haunting visual complexity, focusing on riveting color schemes and incredible mise-en-scene while showing little to no interest in character development or story structure. In that sense, Burton’s visual feasts come across as lifeless symphonies of visceral entities pining for your attention via showy montages and melodrama. But Sweeney Todd does reflect Burton’s genius for set and sound design, using splatter effects to lyrically evoke Sweeney’s disturbing disdain for human life. While Burton’s overdone carnage mixes well with Depp’s brutality, Bonham Carter’s pragmatism, and Rickman’s villainy, this incredible surface of blacks, reds, and blues still feels frightfully hollow and self-indulgent.

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