Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Attend the Tale"? Sweeney Todd Trailer

"at last my arm is complete again"

The Sweeney Todd trailer has finally arrived. True to form with Tim Burton movies it looks like sweet sweet dark eye candy. Helena and Johnny both look good (from what little we can tell here). Unfortunately Hollywood's marketing departments still haven't learned the lessons of Chicago, Moulin Rouge!, Dreamgirls and Hairspray. It's not 1986 anymore. People actually like musicals again. They go to them. Those first three won Oscars. The last one had the best musical box office opening in decades. This wishy washy "it's a musical. but it's not really a musical! OK, there's some music" thing is so passé.

39 comments:

Nicole said...

Funny, someone said that it is a good thing that people don't know it is a musical. I don't know about it's awards prospects based on the trailer, but I'll be there.

Nat- your talk of Buffy makes me want to watch the DVD's.

Ray said...

Meh ... this is yet another Burton film overloaded with visual crap and completely empty on the inside. Depp looks way over the top again as well.

When was the last time Burton made an actual film with characters that resemble living humans???

Time to grow up, Tim.

www.therecshow.com

Dave said...

I have only mixed affection for the stage version, but I'm not quite remembering - is it just me or does the trailer here already have more spoken dialogue than the stage version had? I'm still sore about the incredibly flat spoken word scenes inserted into the "Rent" movie, but in this case I actually have a vague feeling that cutting soem of the music from this musical (especially all the repetition) might be a good idea.

All that being said, I think that while this *looks* good visually, I'm anticipating a hot mess.

Rural Juror said...

It looks great...and It is so weird that they won't play a song!

NATHANIEL R said...

Nicole --yeah, that's the common wisdom but i'm not sure why: box office doesn't support the notion that people don't like musicals. It's a leftover mindset from the dark days (the 80s and 90s) when audiences wouldn't attend them unless they were Disney cartoons.

i don't really get the marketing teams thinking people still won't go after those four big successes. But if they really do fear that why on gods green earth would they let Johnny singtalk in the trailer? it's so wishy washy.

The only musicals that have failed this decade have been the ones that got bad reviews

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time Alan Rickman is nominated for an Academy Award?

Does the character give him a chance to?

Marcelo - Brazil

adam k. said...

I thought this looked good, actually. I'm still praying that this isn't the Dreamgirls/Cold Mountain of this year.

I also thought Johnny looked very good... except for the singing. Why couldn't he just REALLY sing those notes? Hold the notes, Johnny! He seems from his speaking voice that he'd have a decent singing voice. I feel like it shouldn't be that hard for a really great actor to sing adequately, especially with all the tweaking you can do in a studio. Really, the Sweeney Todd part isn't THAT hard to sing. It's not exactly "And I'm Telling You".

If this is well-received, Depp will win the oscar. Or, at the very least, the golden globe. The movie just has to be good, and he has to sing fairly well. His acting in the trailer looks great; that's not a worry. I'm just afraid they'll botch up the singing somehow.

Kamikaze Camel said...

It looks decent. But, yeah, apart from that one moment that people could easily think was merely a fantasy moment, it doesn't look like a musical at all.

You could at least tell Hairspray and Moulin Rouge had lots of dancing in them and such.

crazycris said...

I have absolutely no a prioris about this film... other than Johnny Depp + Tim Burton again... which is more than enough to drag me to the cinem! ;o)

Anyone else think the beginnings of Bionic Woman mirror Alias a little to closely? Only thing missing is finding out Miguel Ferrer is a badguy... :s

crazycris said...

and yeah... Alan Rickman is looooooong overdue for an Oscar... He's about the only positive thing I can remember from Robin Hood ("I'm going to cut his heart out with a spoon!" anyone?), is absolutely chilling as Prof Snape (am looking forward to Half-Blood Prince as we'll finally see more of him!), and was very convincing in Love Actually (to only mention a few roles)

Anonymous said...

i wish it wasn't a musical,looks v tim burton to me,but depp could win if he is knockout.

Steve said...

Johnny Depp. Swinging a razor. And singing.

God, I'm so bloody there.

Anonymous said...

With you there on the wishy-washiness of the marketing, Nat - and I'm really sort of cringing about this. I'm sure Depp will be terrific (have you seen The Libertine?) but it looks very over the top - which admittedly the original stage production was, but it was leavened with macabre humor and whimsy, and except for Bonham-Carter's "That's all very well and good, but what about him?" at the end of the trailer, there is absolutely NO humor in evidence. It looks to me like more heavy-handedness from Burton, who seems incapable of a genuinely light touch.

I am actually hoping Bonham-Carter's performance gets some awards love - she has been so underused and underappreciated these past few years. (then again, it would help her career immensely I think if she bothered to work for somebody besides her husband.)

Anne Thompson has clips of the original stage version and the performance from the recent revival (from the Tony awards):

http://weblogs.variety.com/thompsononhollywood/2007/10/sweeney-todd-ol.html

I do so wish I had seen the revival when it was in NYC (the New Yorker wrote up a wonderful review) and just that clip from the Tony Awards conveys so much power - it's really a less is more approach that zeros in on the emotions of the piece.

Unfortunately, in all this time Burton has never learned that lesson - he still seems to believe that more is more, heaping the buffet table with dish after dish regardless of whether or not they make a satisfying mean, or whether he's making his guests sick to the stomach. (One could very rightly accuse Baz Luhrmann of the same fault, although he demonstrated with MR that he is capable at times of great delicacy.)

But maybe I'm wrong and this will be completely brilliant. It just makes me a bit nervous.

RedSatinDoll

Abbie said...

I really, really want this to be good, but from the trailer, I fear it probably won't be. Johnny Depp already sounds like he ought to be dubbed, and he's only sung a few lines. It's too bad, the musical had so much potential to really shine on screen.

I'll probably still be in the audience opening day.

i am shiva said...

Bleh. Just another Tim Burton movie, with what looks like some recycled Captain Jack mannerisms from Depp. You wouldn't know this was a musical from watching this trailer...

Anonymous said...

I want Johnny Depp to be great in this and win the Oscar, b/c I adore "Sweeney Todd", but that trailer did nothing to quash my doubts about how the final product will turn out. It's usual Burton macabre, but that's so been there, done that at this point. Until I actually hear a song come out of Depp's mouth in this film, I'll keep doubting. I'll end on a positive note and say that the techs look incredible.

Emma said...

Gah! I was comipiling a list of to-sees, how could I forget this?!?!

Jake said...

It's interesting there was so little singing in the trailer, but more interesting that the singer they did show sounded distinctly...weak. Johnny Depp kind of sounded like a mid-range emo frontman at the end of a 3 hour show.

adam k. said...

Well, lest we forget, he's not a singer.

Sigh.

NATHANIEL R said...

like i've been saying from the very beginning. they dubbed Depp for CRYBABY of all things (which has, what a 7 note range?) so, yikes. maybe they plan to do the whole thing talk/singy like Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady.

if so: blah

amir_uk said...

The academy is loving giving people an Oscar on their 3rd nom recently - maybe it really will be Depp's turn then...

adam k. said...

What ever happened to the intensive singing boot camp thing? Isn't that what they did in Moulin Rouge! and Chicago? And Nicole and Renée ended up doing quite respectable (if not GREAT) singing.

You'd think Sondheim would be insisting on something like that for Depp. If he had to audition for Sondheim, then Sondheim must've though him up to it, or at least potentially up to it.

But there's something very wrong with casting Depp INSTANTLY in the role of Sweeney Todd and then not making sure he was trained adequately for the singing. It's an iconic musical role that many many actors (myself included) would kill to get, and could sing without extensive additional training. Casting someone incapable of singing the part just because he's a movie star and Burton's muse is not really fair regardless, but if you must do it, the least you can do is train him to make sure he can sing it. If not, it's flat out disrespectful to the material.

In acting class last year, one day we had an assignment where we had to come in and sing a song as an acting exercise. And every last one, even the non-singers, was able to carry a tune and even sound quite good. I was actually a little surprised. But I honestly believe that most actors can sing you give them the chance. Even the ones who'd rather not. I'll be pretty mad at Depp if he f***s this up.

Elias said...
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Elias said...

It's risky. I think Burton is attempting to appeal to the non-musical fans (which is not his key demographic). Remember Rent? Yikes! I'm just hoping they release a trailer showing some musical numbers soon, and Burton doesn't choose style of substance (again!), or else I'd expect some pissed off Sondheim fans.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I must say that I think dubbing over Depp in Cry-Baby was deliberate and actually part of the film.

Still doesn't give me confidence about Depp in Todd.

NATHANIEL R said...

Elias you're right. I'm sure that's what they're doing. trying to appeal to people who've never heard of this musical (it saddens me that enormous classics aren't more well known in popular culture but thems' the breaks)

But regardless my objection to it is there is really no basis on the part of studios to assume that people don't like musicals. They're living in the past.

The past 6 years have been very kind to them at the box office (with the exception of the true stinkers) and at the Oscars. Time to wake up and smell the 00s.

Elias said...
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Elias said...

I agree. There's no denying that the musical has made its way into the mainstream. But remember that most, if not all, of the musicals that were released (and successful) in the past were over-the-top, campy, and extremely theatrical. Sondheim musicals are none of that. They're dark, performance-driven, and they rely heavily on the story. 'Sweeney' can't hide behind glitz, lights, and dance numbers. What the studios believe, in my opinion, is that it needs to rely on the star appeal, story, and the "magic" of Tim Burton. I just hope it doesn't backfire. I agree with you, they just need to accept the fact that it's a musical and concentrate on what makes a Sondheim musical great.

Which is why I wish they had chosen a different director with theatre experience (Sam Mendes, as originally planned)

Anonymous said...

Elias I disagree ever so slightly with your assessment - the original production of Sweeney Todd definitely had campy, over-the-top elements - it was a "big", ambitious musical that in some ways set the stage (forgive the pun) for 20 years worth of big, over the top musicals.

What Sweeney Todd (and Sunday in the park with George) possessed (which I think we can all agree on, so I know I'm preaching to the choir) that the musicals of Andrew Rice Webber et all lack is real human interest, sympathy for even the most unlikeable characters, and above all else brilliant writing, brilliant lyrics, brilliant music. That's why the revival of Sweeney Todd is in it's way as brilliant as the original - it was able to distill the original to the essence of of it's writing because the writing at the core was so great to begin with. You can't do that with so many of the musicals that populate the stage in the last 20 years - take away the glitz and they are nothing.

What worries me is that Burton has played around with and disfigured what made the play really great to begin with.

RedSatinDoll

Elias said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elias said...

I see what you're saying. But let me clear up the point I was trying to make. Sondheim's musicals were theatrical, yes, but they were being released when the British invasion was just occuring. When Webber, Boublil and Schönberg, Kander and Ebb were all releasing their Mega Musicals that wiped all the others out of the water (as far as audiences were concerned). These were the shows that attracted the crowds with their big sets, extravagant costumes, falling chandeliers and helicopters. I mean, when Sweeney Todd was originally released, it opened to mixed reviews. However, the reason it's so much appreciated now, is because the story, characters, and like you said, writing is what drives the show. Therefore, I think Burton may be disconnected with those specific elements. I'm not discounting the fact that the original broadway production of Sweeney did, in fact, have camp. However, unlike Les Mes, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, which relies so heavily on the camp, 'Sweeney Todd' doesn't need that. I'm just worried Burton and the studios may discount any of the elements that made the theatre version so special, and try to recreate something entirely different...

Anonymous said...

Elias, THANK YOU for clarifying that - I understand your original point so much better (and am rather gratified to see that we are, indeed, in agreement. I certainly agree with your earlier remark that another direction might have done this material greater justice. I can't see or think of the Burton trailer without thinking "Edward Scissorhands/Nightmare Before Christmas/Beetlejuice...oh heck, haven't we seen this all before? When is Burton going to get tired of drinking from the same well?"

To try to downplay the music of Sweeney Todd is sheer madness by the way, because my memory of it (which admittedly is fuzzy and based on the 1982 video recording shown on PBS) is that Sweeney is more "operatic" than the traditional Broadway musicals, and the story is told primarily if not exclusively through song, as opposed to the old "write the book and stick in pop tunes" of the 1920's theater (that has since come back round to us - unfortunately - in last quarter-century) or even the musicals of Oscars and Hammerstein era, in which the music was written specifically for the plays and served the incidents and characters onstage.

RedSatinDoll

Anonymous said...

//"When was the last time Burton made an actual film with characters that resemble living humans?"//

Well there was that one time in 19..., no, wait a minute, I'm thinking of someone else. Nevermind.

Seriously, there was a moment of real human recognition for me near the ending of Big Fish - the son completing the father's tale just GOT to me. It's a pity Burton doesn't draw on that power and simplicity more often.

RedSatinDoll

Anonymous said...

I think the reason they're trying to downplay the MUSICAL aspects of it is so that they can get the horror fanboys excited for it as well. Most of them tend to avoid musicals and most of them are ignorant of the actual source material. And some people who enjoy musicals like "Hairspray", "Dreamgirls' and "Chicago" may be turned off by the bloody material. This is probably why it is tricky to market a movie like this.

Anonymous said...

//This is probably why it is tricky to market a movie like this.//

Excellent point, anon 7:55 (who are you people really? C'mon give yourselves monikers - it makes it so much easier for the rest of us.) I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms. I've read elsewhere on the 'net Burton being quoted as saying "there will be music...there will be blood" and that's one of the reasons that perhaps this was better left to the stage - because onstage you're not likely to feel it necessary to go into the blood and gore - all that is implied (people are having their throats cut and being turned into meat pies, duh. Do we need to see the entire process every bloody step of the way?)

Burton's comments are another reason I'm not rushing to the theater to see this - onscreen blood doesn't "do it" for me, except in very small doses. Not that Burton has exactly been a goremeister in the past, but still, it makes me just a touch nervous.

But perhaps the movie will in it's own way touch on some of the issues and qualities that caused the stage play to open to "mixed reviews" as Elias says in his post, although now it's considered a modern masterpiece (darn foolish pollyanna streak within me...)

RedSatinDoll

Anonymous said...

Geez, everyone is making these grand pronouncements on the basis of a 2-1/2 minute trailer. Maybe a little more background will help: Sondheim approved all the actors, so if it's good enough for the creator, why not give it a chance? Also, anyone who knows the score knows that Depp did exactly what the score calls for...the whole part leading up to "I will have vengeance..." is actually spoken/shouted/NOT sung. The fact that the studio is not selling it as a musical is due to pure cowardice on their parts, so don't blame the producers, director, et. al. for that...but hey, if you suggest to the average filmgoer that they go see a musical about the 19th-century vengeance story of a barber and his accomplice who murder people and turn them into meat pies, how many do you think are going to line up? I expect this is just an introductory trailer, and one with more singing will be released closer to 12/21. And finally, having seen the original Broadway show and the revival, it's obvious that this story can have many interpretations, and if you don't like Burton's, the revival will be touring this fall and winter. Just wait and see what Burton comes up with before you dismiss his work.

tootsagain said...

I don't get the concept of Sweeney Todd as a musical, but Alan Rickman and JD on the screen together is enough to get this woman moving to the nearest theater. Tim Burton's reputation probably proceeds him but genius is genius whether the unwashed masses like it or not. I have a little secret to tell you Ray I am probably older than dirt to you, and growing up is so overrated. Don't take it so hard. Stop and smell the roses, but in this case just go and enjoy the view.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 3:05pm: Sondheim actually wasn't really given the chance to approve Depp. Depp came with the project but Burton reassured him that Depp wouldn't have agreed to do it if he didn't think he could.

Brooke said...

You are all getting worked up for nothing. I recently saw this movie, and I completely enjoyed it. Tim Burton has done a wonderful job, the movie is not "scary", per say, more disturbing. I am the biggest scardey-cat you could ever meet( The SCARY MOVIE films scare me), and I sat through the entire movie. Depp did a wonderful job with the role, and he hit every note with sincerity and conviction. As was stated earlier ( by someone anonymous), alot of the songs a spoken-sung, not actually sung. If the cast was chosen by the original creator himself, then you owe the actors the benefiet of the doubt, at the very least. After all, there must have been SOME reason why Sondheim chose them, don't you think? Also, as a side note, you can't really say something is awful until you've ACTUALLY seen it.