Tim Burton is a visionary director. Looking at his body of work from the late 1980s through today, one gets a clear sense of his dark, humorous world view. Burton's films are filled with a sense of the fantastic, the supernatural, and the wondrous. The look of every frame of a Burton film feels as though it has been considered; everything is just where he wanted it to be, the light is perfect, and the colors exact (even if they have to be made exact in post). Unfortunately, there are times when one watches a Burton movie that it feels as though he has sacrificed story for look. Such is the case with the recently released to Blu-ray Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).
Starring frequent Burton collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, the film has a screenplay by John Logan, working from the musical written by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler (though the story didn't originate there — it has been adapted from a series of penny dreadfuls numerous times – or possibly some real life incidents, depending on whom you believe). Depp stars as Todd – real name Benjamin Barker – who has recently returned from Australia, where he spent years due to trumped-up legal charges. Todd now longs to get revenge on Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), the man who took away his life and his love, his wife Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly).
Upon returning to England, Todd learns from the woman currently living and working out of Todd's old home, Mrs. Lovett (Carter), that Lucy is dead and that Turpin is holding Todd's daughter, Johanna (Jayne Wisener). Todd, already slightly bent from his time in Australia and his missing his wife and child, quickly loses his tenuous grasp of societal conventions upon learning what has happened to his family. He once again takes up his former profession, that of a barber, but rather than simply providing a close shave, he begins to murder those who sit in his chair. Disposing of the bodies is the wonderful Mrs. Lovett, who grinds them up and puts them in her meat pies.