Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood, the latest film from director Paul Thomas Anderson started as a writing exercise for him adapting some of Upton Sinclair’s work and eventually it turned into a full-blown film. There Will Be Blood follows the story of Daniel Plainview, a turn-of-the-century prospector turned oil man whose ambition leads him to the town of North Boston, California, where he has made the oil discovery of his life, and in his way stands one of the sons of the family that sells Plainview the land, Eli Sunday, the preacher of the Church of the Third Revolution, both vying for ultimate control of the other in this story of family, greed, religion and ambition gone awry.

P.T. Anderson’s filmography includes the films Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punchdrunk Love and with just those four films, he’s shown that he’s a major writing and directing talent. With There Will Be Blood he cements that even further, presenting a film that at least in my eyes is something like the greatest Stanley Kubrick film not directed by Kubrick. This one’s got it all, great cinematography, a terrific score and absolutely fantastic performances from it’s lead actors, Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.

The thing is though, this one ain’t for everyone, folks, not by any means, especially if our audience was any indication. We had maybe 30 people in to see this for a 10:15 showtime last night and before the film had ended, nearly a third of them had walked out. It’s hardly a straightforward film by any means, though it’s timeline is fairly linear, there’s nothing there that really leads an audience. This asks for something out of an audience as well and at least in my eyes, the walkouts weren’t ready to give it.

It also doesn’t exactly give you characters to root for, rather being this character study of greed and ambition and the ends to which they can take you. Now with that said though, I can’t say enough good stuff about the leads here. Daniel Day-Lewis is virtually channeling the legendary John Huston in his performance, yet totally making it his own as well, especially by the tumultuous ending. Paul Dano proved in Little Miss Sunshine that he has the chops for fine dramatic work, and he carries it out well here, playing a significantly quieter character than Day-Lewis’ Plainview, but in his zealotism able to explode against what would be considered his character type. Throughout the film, the two carry on a battle of wills that escalates with each one getting the upper hand, and both actors do a fine job getting there.

Anderson does a terrific job of setting his stage and showing you what a tough life this was. This feels like he’s researched his subject matter well and while it’s hardly a study of what the oil business is all about, it does all feel authentic. This is a long film, weighing in at nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes, and it would certainly feel that way even moreso without the terrific score of Johnny Greenwood, which sets in a tension mood right from the very start of the film. It’s probably the best score I’ve heard in a film all year, and it’s a shame that Greenwood wasn’t given a nomination for his work.

I think this is just an absolutely terrific movie and so far, at least in my eyes, P.T. Anderson is batting a thousand with his body of work. I’ve already assembled my Top 10 Movies of 2007 list, keeping the provision that this film could certainly enter into that after I saw it, and it certainly has, but at the same time, I don’t want to throw anything off of that list, so I’d say with There Will Be Blood that list has now become my Top 11 Movies of 2007. Highly, highly recommended but only for those who are either fans of P.T. Anderson’s work in general, or those willing to work with the film as it unfolds in front of you… just great stuff here…

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Cloverfield

Right off the bat, it’s immediately shown that what you’re about to see in front of you is video tape footage of one of the more personal instances involved in New York City around a military operation that has been named Cloverfield. As this personal video unravels, we’re shown how a young man, Jason Hawkins and his girlfriend, Lily are planning a going away party for Jason’s brother, Rob, who is about to begin a new job a a vice-president for a Japanese company. At the party, Jason convinces their best friend, Hud, to run the camera and get testimonials to Rob from all of the people at the party, and in the midst, personal situations for both Rob and Hud come up… all being eclipsed when what feels like a massive earthquake hits. Everyone runs to the rooftop to further see what’s happening, and the next thing they see is a building exploding and all hell breaking loose around them, as it’s revealed that some giant monster is attacking the city. The rest of the video following details the attempts of these young people to escape the city safely.

And so goes the premise of Cloverfield, easily one of the most anticipated movies of early 2008, from director Matt Reeves, writer Drew Stoddard and producer J.J. Abrams. I’ve read a recent interview with one of the young stars of the film, who basically called Cloverfield a Godzilla for the YouTube generation” and he ain’t wrong about that, it most certainly is that, and it’s also a whole lot of big fun.

The whole film is shot (or at least given the appearance of) from a hand held digital video camera and it carries a whole lot of big sweeping, clumsy motion to it a la The Blair Witch Project and right off the bat, I already now going into this that it will be a major turn-off for a lot of viewers. There will be some who just will probably get a little motion-sick from it, and others who just won’t like it because the like their action in movies to be shot much more straightforward and steady. Personally, I like this style of film making my own self as it always adds a lot more immediacy to the action, and when it’s done really well, there’s never any loss of what’s going on on-screen. In Cloverfield though, it’s intended to look sloppy and it should just to convey the chaos of what happens, and sticking with how it’s been described above, for anyone who’s ever seen a YouTube video, it’s right in line with that.

To me, this is just tremendous stuff, and with the exception of it’s slower set-up (though it’s not exactly that slow considering the film is under 90 minutes long), all of the action, everything you need to know, is totally up there on the screen. And when it’s melded with the visual effects, it just really looks spectacular.

I don’t know any of the young cast of the film, though they all do a good job of playing know-it-all blase twentysomethings- exactly who the film is mainly targeting. There’s a point where I thought one of the characters, that of Hud, who’s mostly holding the camera all through this, was just a little too much on the comedic/stupid side, until I realized after the fact that Hud, more than any other character, is the audience’s gateway character into the film and the things that he’s saying are just the kind of things that you’d almost expect someone to say, say when over dramatically commentating on this on a message board or something like that. And then, that’s when you know that they totally got this right by making a “Godzilla for the YouTube generation.” So with that said, I totally have to give the young cast high marks for what they’ve done here.

The other thing that I really liked with the film and it erased any sort of misgivings that I had about some of the stupid things said by the cast was the film’s ending. Just the sheer ballsiness of ending the film the way Reeves and company has done, is the sort of thing that I like to see more of in films like this, and that again will probably be a huge turn-off for some viewers who like something like this to end in a more traditional way.

And finally, huge kudos for the design of the monster and it’s after effects (you’ll get that once you see it), it’s a terrific design and genuinely terrifying, and there again will be yet another turn-off for a segment of the audience, just the fact that the movie is dealing with some sort of Godzilla-esque type of monster.

As we were getting ready to go in to the theatre, and the previous audience was coming out, indeed two twentysomethings came out talking about how much it sucked and how they were waiting for the movie to get good, and it was just so typical. I would’ve loved to have found out why they thought what they did about it, because honestly, except for the three things that I pointed out above, if you know what you’re going into with this, then really unless you’re expecting this film to change the world in front of you, you should have a good time with it.

I know I did, and right now all I’m hoping for is just that Paramount releases this on HD-DVD before the bottom falls out of that market, just so I can get it for home viewing with my chosen high-def format. I think Cloverfield is just tremendous work and a lot of fun for a genre film fan- highly, highly recommended, especially if you’ve got the chance to see it in digital projection like I did.

Back Seat Producers Fanboy Smackdown Season 02 Shows

FBSD Episode 047: Apocalypto

In pre-recorded (like from June or July) Tony and Tony discuss the Mel Gibson flick Apocalypto.

Promo for Fear the Froot

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Theatrical Review: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

In the Kingdom of Ehb, a power struggle is starting to occur, with the Mystic, Gallian and the king’s n’er-do-well nephew, Duke Fallow working together to overthrow King Konreid, while in the back ground the struggle hits close to a peasant named Farmer who’s much more than he seems.

And simply enough, that’s the basic premise of In the Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, the newest movie from the infamous director Uwe (pronounced oof-ah) Boll, who’s known for making movies of video games with less than spectacular results. The funny thing here though… believe it or not, this is actually a lot of fun, and not in the way of it’s so bad it’s fun, but in the it’s actually a decent movie it’s fun. I’ve got to admit, I’ve no experience at all with the video game this is based on, so I can’t say if it’s true to the game or not. But in a sea of the same old fantasy films adapting books about precocious children finding their true destiny, this one stands out by being very easy to follow, very straightforward, having some great action scenes and best of all, not being pretentious for one bit.

I’ve only seen Boll’s adaptation of House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark prior to this, and while both movies are indeed fairly awful, Boll certainly did have his moments with some good shots here and there and some decent action bits. When I saw him during G4’s Comic-Con coverage, it was nice to see anyway that the director had a sense of humor about himself, and he certainly knows that he’s out there to make these B-movies, there’s little pretension at all to him. Well, with In The Name Of The King he’s really made something that I thought was a genuinely good time at the movies. I mean let’s make no mistake about this, this was undoubtedly for it’s director and his cast a paycheck job, and even with that, sometimes you get some happy ends, and this just happens to be one of them. In some perverted way, I was almost hoping this might be so bad that I’d want to walk out on it, so just imagine my own pleasant surprise when I came out of it at the end, genuinely charged up by what I’d just seen. Now for those of you looking for another Lord of the Rings in your fantasy movies, well you’ll just need to keep looking, this is more like something like The Beastmaster in comparison to that, and personally, I think that’s pretty cool.

Boll has a big name cast here: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Leelee Sobieski, Brian White, John Rhys Davies, Claire Forlani, Ron Perlman, Matthew Lillard and Kristianna Loken all headline here. And I’ll certainly admit that guys like Burt Reynolds and Ray Liotta would be the last I’d expect to see in something like, they, at least in my opinion, don’t just slop this off, and in particular Liotta looks like he’s genuinely having a good time with the part. But the person who fares the best here is Statham. His character of Farmer actually has a few more facets to him than the characters he’s played in some contemporary parts, and he actually gets to stretch his acting muscles a bit for this roll.

Seriously, this really was a lot of fun. It moves very briskly, with some really fantastic action scenes, especially one major battle in the middle of the film, and overall has a nice “comic book” sort of feel, that again for me, was totally unexpected. I honestly can say that I think if you were to see this and at least come into it with a fairly open mind and not be ready to jump on the bash Uwe Boll bandwagon, you’ll actually have a pretty good time with the movie. I know I for one honestly can’t wait to see it again when it comes home on DVD… good stuff, and good job Uwe Boll…

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

The Best Movies of 2007 (and the Worst as well)

So anyway, it’s that time of the year again to put together a Top 10 list of what I thought was the best movies that I saw all year. 2007 was a pretty darn good year and I know I certainly saw a lot of films that I had in consideration. Anyway, I’ve got a Top 10, and I’ve also got my list of runners-up… so first off, here’s the runners-up in no particular order:

Children of Men
Black Snake Moan
The Simpsons Movie
Michael Clayton
Bee Movie
The Mist
Sweeney Todd

I thought all of those were absolutely terrific and most of them would get a hearty recommendation from me to most movie viewers (Bug is the one movie on that list that I’d be hesitant to recommend to a lot of folks, but I know I had a hell of a good time with it) and Children of Men is one that I enjoyed much, much more on my second go with it. One of the other films that I’ve seen this year was Pan’s Labyrinth which is technically a 2006 movie, so I’ve disqualified it from this list, though it’s certainly well worth your time to see it. Just recently too, another movie that I’ve seen this year,that opened in theatres this year, but that I didn’t see until it came out on DVD was Lasse Hallstrom’s The Hoax which starred Richard Gere and was about writer Clifford Irving’s attempt to keep his name and writing in the spotlight by contriving an autobiography (dictated to him) by the reclusive billionaire, Howard Hughes. Had I seen that in theatres, I would’ve had to consider that as well- but just the same, it’s a terrific film and highly recommended if you get the chance. And there’s still at least one 2007 movie that hasn’t opened here that I really want to see that I think in advance could be a contender for this list, and that’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. I’m hoping that plays here soon. So without further ado, here’s the top 10 starting with number 10:

10. Inland Empire – I am a huge David Lynch fan, and even when it’s at it’s most taxing to put together the real ideas around his films, he always delivers a tremendous experience to go through. Inland Empire was a bold experiment for him, shooting entirely on Sony consumer digital video cameras, this three-hour epic seems almost like it’s a good companion piece for Mulholland Dr. in a lot of ways. It’s tagline is “A Woman In Trouble” and as usual, Lynch leaves it in the hands of the viewer to put it altogether. This features a terrific performance from Laura Dern, putting her through the gamut of emotions. Not for everybody by any means, but those who like David Lynch movies will probably find something to like here.

9. The Host – This Korean movie is one of the best monster movies that I’ve seen in years. It details the story of a mutated sea creature running amok amongst a huge populated city and the city’s steps to keep it at bay, but with a huge focus on one particular family whose youngest member is snatched up by the beast, and their attempts to get her back. Thrilling stuff with terrific visual effects and a great emotional center.

8. American Gangster – Ridley Scott steps back into 70s style of filmmaking telling this story of drug kingpin Frank Lucas and police officer Richie Roberts, as Roberts attempts to take down the big drug targets in the midst of a New York City already heavily corrupted by cops on the take. Great performances from Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are at the center of the film, and it’s just a terrific ride in a good old fashioned French Connection-type of film.

7. Ratatouille – The second teaming of Brad Bird and Pixar Studios gives us a story of a rat with a taste for the finer things, and how that rat gets to realize his dreams by helping the inept heir of a great restaurant take charge of that restaurant. Just incredibly beautiful work from Pixar, again showing why they’re the absolute best at Computer animated films. Very funny stuff and a great mix of comedy and something a little different, that being a movie that focuses on food and cooking.

6. I Am Legend – It’s the third time out for Richard Matheson’s classic story on-screen and in my opinion, it’s the best yet and a genuinely thrilling film experience. A deadly virus has taken it’s toll on the population and in a deserted New York City, one man has remained immune and dedicates himself to find a cure while surviving from the new terrors that the virus has created. Really well made film from director Frances Laurence who previously gave us Constantine, this realizes the premise well and features one terrific performance from Will Smith, I think it’s his best yet.

5. No Country For Old Men – The latest film from the Coen Brothers is a brutal cat and mouse story about one man who finds a large amount of drug money and how he’s on the run from a sadistic killer, and haw both are being tracked down by one long-in-the-tooth sheriff who thinks this case just might be beyond him. Gripping stuff right from the start with an ending that’s not the clean ending that most filmgoers like, but very true to the ideas of the film. Terrific performances from Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and most especially Javier Bardem add to the intensity.

4. 300 – Zach Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel raises the bar considerably for virtual studio films. This is the story of how 300 Spartans held off the immense Persian army for as long as they could from invading their soil. Snyder and his crew have taken great pains to make this true to Miller’s work with any alterations meeting the approval of Miller himself. Visually brilliant, fun as hell to watch and with a great, bravura performance from Gerard Butler.

3. The Lookout – Right from a blockbuster to an extremely small film in comparison, Scott Frank’s The Lookout tells the story of a young man with a promising life ahead of him having it seriously hampered by an accident that gives him memory issues. This is a tightly woven tale that’s beautifully shot and extremely well acted, with terrific performances from Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode and especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role. I just watched this again on DVD recently and found it just as compelling then as I did in the theatres (to which there was hardly anyone in them to see this gem).

2. The Kingdom – Director Peter Berg tells us a story about a fictional terrorist attack on an American oil community in the Saudi city of Riyadh and gets more to the emotional points rather than pontificating over the political points, delivering a movie that’s compelling to get involved with rather than delivering Hollywood preachiness. This is incredibly well made, very fast paced, and features godd “lived in” performances from Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman. And on top of that, this delivers one of the best and most chilling endings I’ve seen in a movie all year. Terrific stuff and I can’t wait to see what Peter Berg does next.

And now, here’s the number one movie for me all year and this should come as little surprise to anyone who knows my tastes in movies…

1. Grindhouse – Directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino love those old exploitation films of the 60s, 70s and early 80s and I do too, and what they delivered with the original theatrical version of Grindhouse was a genuine film experience that hasn’t been seen in a long time, a double feature that’s filled out with trailers for other movies made in the same vein, all produced with that sort of old theatre/drive-in presentation. Grindhouse for me was just pure fun from start to finish and it was just an incredible shame that this failed so miserably at the box office, because I could’ve stood to see Rodriguez and Tarantino deliver this type of experience for many years to come. Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is a science fiction/horror story made in the vein of some classic Fred Olen Ray movies that at times seems more of a parody than the actual thing, but is still fun as hell to watch nonetheless. Tarantino’s Death Proof is more like the real thing, about a sadistic killer in Stuntman Mike, who’s out to kill young women with his special car which he’s deemed as death proof. There’s actual continuity between both movies (and further continuity with Tarantino’s own Kill Bill and a load of great over-the-top performances that’s truly in the style of the films that they’re homaging. And the trailers themselves, crafted by Rodriguez, Edgar Wright, Eli Roth and Rod Zombie are just as entertaining with Zombie delivering for me the single best couple of minutes I’ve seen in a movie all year with his trailer Werewolf Women of the SS. Hopefully one day, this will be released as it should be on DVD, an all-in-one package, but still even with both movies out there as individual DVDs, they’re still great fun to watch.

And just to round this out, I’ll go ahead and list what I thought were the worst that I saw in 2007 as well. Amongst those in consideration for that were:

Arthur and The Invisibles
The Number 23
Shrek The Third

But the absolute worst for me had to The Golden Compass a fantasy book adaptation that just did all of the things that I think are most wrong with the genre. This one had me making fun of it almost from the start with it’s convoluted back story and it’s readiness to have events happen that you’re just supposed to take as “of course that’s the way it should work.”

But still, it was a great year out there this past year, and out of the 63 movies that I saw theatrically this year, there’s certainly plenty of good stuff to choose from…

Back Seat Producers Fanboy Smackdown Season 02 Shows

FBSD Episode 046: Ghostbusters (Fixed)

Join us as we have a few drinks and discuss Ghostbusters. We also discuss how the movie came to be and the sequel.

Join in on the fun.

Note: Apparently I was drinking when I posted the episode, too. Sorry for the mix up. The proper file should now be in the feed

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: I Am Legend

In our present day, a cure for cancer has been found. By taking the measles virus and genetically altering it, it has been turned into a cure for cancer and as our story starts, it’s 100% reliable. Three years later, the vast majority of the world’s population has been wiped out with the virus transmuting further and infecting humans to the point of making them all as though they were rabid beasts, if it hasn’t infected them then humans have been killed by them after they’ve been infected, either way, this cure for cancer has had an end result of a decimation of the population. But one man is immune, his name is Robert Neville and he’s both a scientist and a colonel in the army and something in his blood has kept him from being infected. Now, Neville lives a solitary existence trying to survive, trying to see if there’s anyone else like him, and trying to find a cure for the transmuted virus.

And that’s the premise of I Am Legend, the third cinematic version of Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name (the other versions are The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston) and while I thought it would be real tough for one to be better than The Omega Man, I Am Legend does it, and does it admirably well. Director Francis Laurence (who previously helmed Constantine) takes this story and makes the most fearsome version of it yet. It’s genuinely thrilling and gut-wrenching to watch at times and yet it’s all so skillfully made and just beautiful to watch play out.

Right from it’s opening scenes, involving Neville hunting deer in the streets of New York City driving a Shelby Mustang, you already get a sense that you’re going to be in for one hell of a ride. And pay close attention to the end of that scene for a real geekgasm moment as you see one of the theatre billboards.

Laurence gives us the most terrifying version of the infected yet seen, showing them off early on in some genuinely creepy moments, before going full blown with them later in the film. They’re a mix of live action and CGI with a greater emphasis on the CGI (at least it seems to me- very much like how the robots were handled in I, Robot– in that film, actor Alan Tudyk was the model for the main robot and in this film, actor Dash Mihok serves the same purpose) and while they’re very much a visual effect, I do think they’re quite effective.

But the biggest plus to this film is it’s lead actor, Will Smith. And I genuinely think Will Smith has given his best performance to date in this film. He runs the gamut of emotions here and one particular scene with his dog will literally just tear you up. Smith still invest some of his trademark humor here and there in the film, but it’s not overpowering to the movie in the slightest. He’s fun to watch in the part and you can tell that he just threw himself into this in a big way. Out of all the movies I’ve seen this year, I truly believe that Will Smith has given ne of the very best performances from a lead actor that I’ve seen yet.

This is just absolutely entertaining and moving as can be, and certainly another film that I’ve got to consider for my best of 2007 list. It’s skillfully made, genuinely thrilling and it’s lead actor gives, in my opinion, his best performance yet. Do not miss I Am Legend.

(And if that wasn’t enough, the trailer for The Dark Knight, the next Batman film, also runs with this, and it just looks incredible- this whole package is a genre film fan’s dream)

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem

Moments after the climactic events of the first Alien Vs. Predator, the predator ship departing from Earth, meets with major trouble within, and finds itself turned around and crash-landing back on the planet near the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. There, captured Alien parasites get free of the wreckage to quickly attack and infest a father and son out on a hunting trip. Meanwhile, other events involving some of the townspeople of Gunnison start to unfold, introducing us to some of the people who will quickly become involved in this. The Predator ship has not checked into their homeworld, and one of the Predators, finds out what has happened to their ship and quickly departs for Earth to clean up the mess, but as he’s arrived, the Aliens have also started to run amok across the town.

And that’s the premise of Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem a direct sequel to the first movie, from both it’s opening and end scenes, setting things up for a third film as well as, in a classic Planet of the Apes type of fashion, starting to come full circle to what would be the first film in the Alien franchise. Now I love all of these movies, and am proud to be one of the few who can readily admit that he really enjoys the first AVP film as well, and while these franchises obviously don’t hold the same fascination with the public that they did when they were first released, I give Fox a lot of credit for sticking with both franchises even now and continue to build this thing.

AVP: R is directed by The Brothers Strause, a couple of guys who I understand are more known for visual effects work, and I think they’ve given us a very fast-paced film here that pays a lot of homages to the other films with key event set-ups, that at least for this viewer was a lot of fun to watch. Hell, they even go so far as to have their composer, Brian Tyler, pay homages in some of his musical cues to, especially in re-visiting the Predator music. For the most part, the look of the film isn’t too bad, though I think the Strauses could’ve used some of Paul Anderson’s visual sense with a few of the scenes, as most of the movie is very dark with action being shot up against the rain and strobing lights, a few “beauty” shots wouldn’t have hurt things here and there.

The cast here is mostly a lot of unknowns, the best known being Reiko Aylesworth from 24 who plays a soldier returning back to her family in Gunnison, and they do the job mostly moving the plot forward. I know I wasn’t exactly expecting this to be about great acting performances, that’s not what these movies are about, so as I said, they move things forward and nothing more. As I watched this though, I did think that there is probably a longer cut of the film that gives us more background around the people of Gunnison, though I wouldn’t expect it to be mired in that, that would probably bring the momentum of the film to a halt if it was heavily invested in some of that, but a little more wouldn’t hurt and I’d expect that that will probably show up on the eventual DVD.

I think this is a whole lot of fun, but it’s hard for me to go out and readily recommend this considering the fan disdain over the first AVP. I thought that one was a whole lot of fun as well, and universally fans feel betrayed by it, though I’ll never understand why. So I guess I can say that if you enjoyed the first film, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend the second as well, but seeing that so few did enjoy the first film, then maybe you should save yourself from having your childhoods raped yet again, and just stay home and moan about how bad the second season of Heroes was or how the Sci-Fi Channel is wrecking everything with their treatment of Battlestar Galactica…

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Sweeney Todd

In Victorian England, a barber by trade, Benjamin Barker who had a lovely wife and daughter, found his wife to be the object of desire by a malicious public official, Judge Turpin, and through trumped up charges, Barker was banished from London, leaving his wife and daughter to the wiles of the judge. Fifteen years later, Barker has returned, taking a new identity, that of one Sweeney Todd, with nothing further than bloody revenge on his mind. Todd returns to his old home, which is above the meat pie restaurant of Mrs. Lovett, and finding a sympathetic soul with her, Todd plots his revenge.

And that’s the premise of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street the latest film from the team of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp adapting Steven Sondheim’s musical for the screen. And if there was ever a project that screamed out for the team of Burton and Depp to take it on, Sweeney Todd is it. These two, the Goth Scorsese and DeNiro as I like to call them, have delivered some incredible work on screen together, and while I thought they misfired with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, I think they deliver the goods in a big way with Sweeney Todd.

Now I must confess, though I’ve known of this story and it’s particulars for years, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a version of it all the way through. And of course the first thing that came to mind for me is whatever could posess someone to make a musical of this extremely twisted tale? In talking with my friend Dan, the Grand Guignol concept of theatre came up and immediately on hearing those words, it all made sense. Sondheim being the peculiar sort that he is obviously thought this would be something totally original for musical theatre and without a doubt it most assuredly is.

The movie absolutely looks fantastic, you see this and you almost immediately think this is exactly what it has to look like in the mind of Tim Burton. And this is a musical, almost non-stop from start to finish, and the music and the lyrics are just a lot of good, twisted fun. One of the opening scenes, with Todd coming back into possession of his “friends” his razors, is just pure magic on the screen with all elements coming together in a very special way.

And yet still, this is not a tale for the faint of heart by any means. This story is just as twisted as the Saws and Hostels out there, so be warned going into this.

Depp is absolutely spot-on as the demon barber and I think it just might be his best work with Burton since Ed Wood. And he’s well aided by a great supporting cast including Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin and Sacha Baron Cohen in a brief role as Pirelli, a rival to Todd who’s first played for total comedy, but ends up being a much darker character before his time runs out.

This movie runs two hours, and to me the only time’s it seems to drag are with some scenes with the young sailor who befriended Todd pining over Todd’s lost daughter, but that’s hardly anything to be a deal-breaker in my own enjoyment of the film. Overall though, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp bat one out of the park with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and I know I for one cannot wait to see this one come home in DVD just to see some of the making of the film alone. As long as you’ve got the stomach for this story, it’s highly, highly recommended.