I've loved the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ever since my college days, when a then-boyfriend introduced me to the original Broadway soundtrack with Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. I've never had the chance to see a live stage version, only tapes of productions: the 1982 show with George Hearn and Lansbury, and a 2001 concert of the musical numbers with Hearn and Patti LuPone (and Neil Patrick Harris as Toby, although I didn't realize it at the time). When I heard about the play being adapted for film, I was pessimistic, especially when the big-name, small-singing-voice cast was announced. Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett? Hmpf. Although I usually am attracted to movies starring Johnny Depp, I was skeptical that he would make a believable Demon Barber.
Fortunately for me and any other fans of the musical, it turns out that the movie version of Sweeney Todd is quite charming in its dark and twisted way, although not without some flaws and odd choices. The overall look of the film is quite Burton-esque, occasionally to excess (Sweeney's outfit in the "By the Sea" number is unpleasantly jarring), but for the most part this serves the old story of the vengeful barber very well. The tone seems darker than the stage musical, perhaps because we're seeing actors and violent scenes up close.