Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Blu-Ray) Studio: Dreamworks Home Video Rated: R (for graphic bloody violence) Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HD Encoding: 1080p HD Video Codec: VC-1 Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, French 5.1 Dolby Digital Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH+ Time: 116 minutes Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD Case Style: Keep case Theatrical Release Date: 2008 Blu-Ray Release Date: October 21, 2008 Johnny Depp stars as Benjamin Barker, a barber, who is unjustly sent to prison and while there, he vows revenge on the man who sent him there, the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Turpin had developed an infatuation with Barker’s wife and found a way to get Barker imprisoned. Barker comes out of prison with the new identity of Sweeney Todd and his revenge is motivated not only by his imprisonment but also the horrible consequences to his wife and daughter. He returns to London, pallid and mad, and he opens a barbershop with the express intent of luring in his captors and killing them with a straight-edge razor. However, Todd finds he has a flair for killing and his kooky landlord, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), becomes an enamored and willing accomplice, who creates macabre meat pies of the remains of Todd’s work. Todd must also do battle with a rival barber, the flamboyant Signor Adolfo Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen), who is wise to his competition’s acts. The razor’s bloody cut runs deep while Todd tries to kill the pain in his soul, ultimately finding it may not satisfy him. This stage to screen transition is handled quite well by director Tim Burton who infuses his usual visual stamp on the production and reminds us his love of the oddball character. He dresses Depp’s Todd in makeup and clothing suggesting a later-in-life and corrupted Edward Scissorhands, while Carter’s Lovett conveys a twisted love for the most troubled Todd. Production values on the picture comes flying off the screen in the low-tech of the spraying blood to the smooth use of CG effects, especially interesting in the beach scenes. Depp and Carter, both novice vocalists, do suitably well here, while Rickman comes off as just a little flat. Burton’s dark humor is here, yet subdued, showing a maturing in him as a director and storyteller. All in all a good production that makes me want to see the next stage version. Video: Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment. The Blu-Ray disc is encoded in the VC-1 codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The overall picture is very dour and drab, where the actors take on this pallor to match the London setting. More mono-chromatic black and white and at times, sepia, than color per se, there are a couple scenes of stunning vibrancy as we see Barker and his family before they were imprisoned as well as Mrs. Lovett’s dreams of a life by the sea. These colorful scenes have a golden tint to them, but the flowers surrounding the Barkers are lush and vibrant, as are the costumes of Todd and Lovett on the boardwalk. The rest of the movie uses the grays to match the mood of the picture, with a constant work out for the blacks, which are inky and deep and show excellent detail and delineation. The picture also has very good depth of field making you wince when the jugular vein is sliced, sending brilliant red blood towards the viewer. Detail and sharpness are excellent. The transfer is free of dirt and debris and I noticed no edge enhancement, DNR or other processing. I had seen this movie theatrically and here it looks as good as it did in the theater. Audio: The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 takes full advantage of the extra bits to give us a lush surround field where the music envelops us, leaving the dialogue in the center. All of these elements blend together quite well, but the center channel can be a bit weak at times. There is almost constant activity in all channels and excellent panning effects. LFE’s get good and low providing some good rumbling to your room. Dialogue and vocals are crisp and clear and free of any distortion. Bonus Material: all items are in HD unless otherwise noted. Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd (26:08): the three participants, as well as Sondheim, producer Richard Zanuck and others discuss the process they went through to make the picture. Usually these pieces have the stars and directors gushing over each other, but they’re restrained here, showing more of a mutual respect generated over a number of years and projects. They also discuss the issues the actors had with singing as most of them had not done so in the past and coordinating it during filming. Sweeney Todd Press Conference, November, 2007 (SD) (19:41): Burton and the cast field questions from the foreign press. Everybody is pretty jovial here keeping the panel light and funny. Sweeney Todd is Alive: The Real History of the Demon Barber (20:08): various literature professors, historians and Burton examine the legend of the Demon Barber trying to determine if there is any truth to it Musical Mayhem: Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (12:05): Sondheim discusses how he was inspired to write his version of Sweeney Todd’s story, combining elements of the various stories of the past. Mike Higham, music producer for the movie, discusses how he translated Sondheim’s work for the movie. Sondheim is very engaging and very appreciative of Burton’s version of his work. Sweeney’s London (16:16): a bit of a history of the socio-economic state and the living conditions of 19th century London at the time of Sweeney Todd. The picture of London depicted here is not too flattering, nor is the potential history of Todd. The doc then delves deeper into Todd’s origin and the places his story is set in. The Making of Sweeney Todd The Demon of Fleet Street (SD) (24:03): after watching the “Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd” piece, this is pales in comparison, it being just the standard EPK stuff. Actually, I guess, you could put the two together for a fairly decent behind the scenes piece. Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition (19:16): some professors and critics discuss the type of theater Sweeney Todd belongs to, that of the horrific and macabre guignol. Designs for a Demon Barber (8:56): Costume Designer Coleen Atwood, Cinematographer Dante Ferretti and set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo discuss the look Burton wanted for the movie and what they did to accomplish it. The production values of the movie are outstanding and it’s great to see how it was put together. A Bloody Business (8:53): the makeup, prosthetics and other practical effects are explained by those responsible. Moviefone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (SD) (11:36): a frightened Burton and Depp answer fan’s questions about the movie. The boys don’t seem too interested in being there, but play along like good sports. The Razor’s Refrain (8:40): a couple of the songs set against a backdrop of productions stills from the movie make this a bloated video. Photo Gallery: a collection of pre-production, behind-the-scenes and finished film stills of the movie. Theatrical Trailer Conclusions: A fine stage to screen transition, along with a great looking and sounding disc with plentiful extras make for a good release and evening of viewing after a hearty meal of meat pies. Never mind the finger tips.