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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Blu-ray DVD / musical DVD / dark humor DVD / horror DVD review
Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Tim Burton Studio: Dreamworks Video
DVD release: 21 October 2008 Runtime: 116 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Audio tracks (5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and 5.1 Dolby TrueHD - English, French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), "Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd" (behind-the-scenes featuring exclusive footage from rehearsals, recording sessions - HD), Sweeney Todd Press Conference, "Sweeney Todd Is Alive: The Real History of the Demon Barber" (HD), "Musical Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd" (HD), "Sweeney's London" (HD), "The Making of Sweeney Todd," "Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition" (HD), "Designs for a Demon Barber" (HD), "A Bloody Business (HD), Moviefone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, "The Razor's Refrain" (HD), Photo gallery, Theatrical trailer (HD)

Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) is a lucky guy. He has a beautiful wife, a darling daughter, a blossoming career as a barber - the perfect life. His life is full of light and love until he and his family are espied by twisted judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). With a nod of Turpin's head, Barker is taken away so that Turpin may swoop in and have for himself what he so covets. Barker is sent to prison and left in the dark about his wife and daughter.

Possessed of a haunted gaze and a thirst for revenge, he returns to London 15 years later (this is the early 1800s) after escaping from prison. He heads back to Fleet Street, where his old shop was. There he encounters Mrs. Lovett (director Tim Burton's main squeeze Helena Bonham Carter), who owns the pie shop downstairs. She reveals to Barker (who now calls himself Sweeney Todd) that his wife poisoned herself rather than shack up with Turpin; Barker's daughter remains Turpin's ward.

Lovett laments her lack of talent as a baker of meat pies; she likely makes the worst pies in London. She has such trouble finding good meat, and indeed it appears as there's just as much insect as anything else in her pies. She takes Todd upstairs to his old shop and pulls his cherished razors from under the floor. These razors become his new best friends as he plots revenge. After his first murder, Todd and Lovett come to an agreement about their situation and soon Mrs. Lovett has fresh meat for her wares.

Sweeney Todd is a musical dark comedy, originally brought to Broadway by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. The songs are excellent and amusing and well-performed by all in the cast. The film is shot in a limited palette of black, white, red (blood) and green (pies). When the red - in otherworldly hues that aren't quite true to life - makes its appearance, it is in exaggerated sprays, brought at last to their full gory glory in 1080p high definition.

This Blu-Ray edition of the film contains the same extra features as the two-disc standard DVD Special Collector's Edition - behind-the-scenes with Burton, Carter and Depp featuring exclusive footage from rehearsals and recording sessions; featurettes on the history of the Demon Barber, the Broadway musical, Sweeney's London, making-of, designs, effects, and the tradition of Grand Guignol (a term taken from the name of a Parisian theatre, now referring to "any dramatic entertainment that deals with macabre subject matter and features over-the-top graphic violence"); and a Moviefone interview with Burton and Depp. The advantage, of course, is that the presentation here is in crisp HD. The picture is excellent and the sound is terrific. If you have the sound system to take advantage of the boost in quality, choose the Blu-Ray over the standard DVD.

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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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