Adapted from a Sondheim musical, Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” tells the story of a vengeful barber (Johnny Depp) who returns to London to get back at a duplicitous judge (Alan Rickman). But before he settles the score, he is aided by an accomplice, in the form of an adoring pie maker (Helena Bonham Carter), who lives downstairs from his barbershop. Together, they combine resources to rid of the city’s vermin, including that of the evil judge.

I confess my high score for this film initially perplexed me. Chop up the movie and I cannot say I love any of its individual parts. I’ve seen superior performances from Depp and Carter. I’ve watched better Burton films. I’ve heard better music from other musicals. And yet, I soon realize, grind these parts together and what comes out is a meaty, delectable feast of a movie. When “Sweeney Todd” comes together, with its grotesque emotions of love, revenge, and affection, it is packed with unexpected horror, humor, and power. Bravo to Tim Burton, an essential visionary, who uncovers beauty in the darkest parts of the streets and of the heart.

Grade: A

Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jayne Wisener, Edward Sears, and Sacha Baron Cohen
Based on the musical by
Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler
Musical adapted from the play by
Christopher Bond
Screenplay by
John Logan
Directed by
Tim Burton
Rated R for graphic bloody violence