03 February 2008

Sweeney Todd

Let me begin by saying that I went and saw this movie because everything else was sold out and I lost on a coin toss. So, be forewarned, I may not have gone into it with the most winning attitude. Secondly, I don't like most Tim Burton's movies. Actually, a quick check on imdb reveal that this is not so true - I really like some of his movies. I love Beetlejuice, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and Big Fish. On the other hand, I can't stand Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sleepy Hollow. Aka, the goth bullshit. Beetlejuice manages to work somehow, partly, I suspect, because I first saw it as a little kid, before I had seen the other movies and realized that they're all the same gloomy grayscale aesthetic. Anyhow, point being, the "look" of this movie not only doesn't appeal to me, it straight up pisses me off. When the movie opened with the ridiculously fake looking blood drop careening through some mysterious dark machine, I rolled my eyes and sighed loudly (earning an elbow to the ribs and hiss from my companion). But seriously - the gothic, as an aesthetic, was actually politically meaningful in its time. Sure, here there's a bit of lip service paid to class conflict, but it's really all about the look, and this ridiculous nostalgia for a romanticized past. Seriously, if you really want women to go back to wearing corsets all the time, you're a moron. If you walk around in black velvet and dye your hair red and you're over 15, then it's time to roll for initiative to grow the fuck up.

But the point of this is, I was probably a lost cause from the get-go, so maybe you shouldn't take my word for it.

That said, this movie sucked, bigtime. It was a steaming pile of crap. Actually, to be fair, I did doze off for about 20 minutes in the middle, and apparently missed one of the best songs, so maybe I'm not giving it proper credit. Fuck that, no, this movie sucked.

First off, it's boring. I mean, it drags. You pretty much know exactly what's gonna happen, and lo and behold, it does. Whoopee. Second off, it's ridiculous. When Johnny Depp starts killing his clients, for instance - ok, the first time, you're a little taken aback at how brutal it is, but after 6 victims in a row, you're mostly desensitized, and also a just struck at how poor his business sense is.

Here's the real problem - the music, for the most part, blows. I dunno why it's gotten such good reviews. The lyrics are so appallingly stupid that it makes your head spin. Not to mention, as a musical it suffers from the usual strategy of every character getting a particular tune associated with them, ie, every time you see them they're singing the same damn chorus over and over, which is all the more annoying when that chorus is so incredibly lame. The music is ok, at best. Some of the duets are actually kind of neat, but I think I just kind of like duets in general, because they're kind of interesting.

Now, the music being bad is a major problem, because this movie has the one virtue of being a true musical. The songs are not superfluous. They play an instrumental role in the film, in ways that few other musicals really dare to do, namely, they carry the entire burden of character development. When someone bursts into song, it's to share their inner thoughts and feelings - which you simply don't get access to at any other point in the film. What this means though, is that if the songs are cliche trite bullshit, then the characters are too, which means that you don't give a fuck about them. So, not to have a total spoiler, but let me put it this way - the final scene of the movie left me nodding in satisfaction. Actually, I would have taken it a bit further and cooked up a nasty end for the two other characters who are basically left hanging, but I was willing to settle for what I got. Mostly, I was ready for the credits to roll so that I could get the hell out of there.

In summary, ugh. I wish I had not contributed to the financial gain of anyone involved in this movie.


Veruka2 said...

First, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn't at all goth in nature, yet BeetleJuice totally is. I contest your dichotomy.

Second, I feel like you are simply taking issue with genre. Name one musical you DO like.

And if you say Phantom, so help me....

culture_vulture said...

Apparently it won't let me post pictures in the comments, but google a few of Johnny Depp in that movie. If that doesn't register as goth to you, then I don't really know what to say. I suppose it's possible that Marilyn Manson's copious sampling of snippets from the original film on several different albums may have been the sole reason that all the goths I know were so excited about the remake, but I don't think so. It's creepy as fuck. I agree, it's not goth in the sense that some of the others are because it isn't filmed entirely in gray, but Edward Scissorhands has plenty of bright colors too, and it's about as goth as they come.

I know Beetlejuice is goth. That's why I explain why I in fact do like it despite not liking his goth movies.

I know pretty much all the words to Fiddler on the Roof and most of Les Miserables. Oh, and Hello, Dolly! And let's not forget South Park, The Great Race, The Wizard of Oz, and that other Judy Garland movie that no one has ever seen, The Pirate. And quite a few Disney movies.

And I praise the movie for working well as a musical in terms of structure - my problem with it was that the music sucked.