H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [Blu-ray]


(Tim Burton, 2007)



Review by Gary Tooze


Studio: Dreamworks Video

Video: Dreamworks Video



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:56:22

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 25.6 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 21st, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC


English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, DUBs: French (5.1), Spanish (5.1)

Feature: English, French, Spanish, and none


Burton + Depp + Carter = Todd (26:08 in HD!)
Sweeney Todd Press Conference: (Burton, Depp, Carter, Rickman etc.)
Sweeney Todd is Alive: The Real History of The Demon Barber (in HD!)

Sweeney's London documentary (in HD!)

Designs for a Demon Barber (in HD!)
Musical Mayhem: Sondheim's Sweeney Todd (in HD!)
Grand Guignol: A Theatrical Tradition (in HD!)
Moviefone Unscripted with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (in HD!)
The Razor's Refrain (a Photo Gallery to music)
Theatrical Trailer (in HD!)


Product Description: Johnny Depp and Tim Burton join forces again in a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical thriller "Sweeney Todd." Depp stars in the title role as a man unjustly sent to prison who vows revenge not only for that cruel punishment but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop Sweeney Todd becomes the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who "shaved the heads of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard from again." Joining Depp is Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett Sweeney's amorous accomplice who creates diabolical meat pies. The cast also includes Alan Rickman who portrays the evil Judge Turpin who sends Sweeney to prison and Timothy Spall as the Judge's wicked associate Beadle Bamford and Sacha Baron Cohen is a rival barber the flamboyant Signor Adolfo Pirelli...




The Film:

Tim Burton's film adaptation of "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" smacks its lips at the prospect of such a meal, and so it should. In telling this story, half-measures will avail him nothing. The bloodiest musical in stage history, it now becomes the bloodiest in film history, and it isn't a jolly romp, either, but a dark revenge tragedy with heartbreak, mayhem and bloody good meat pies.

But we know that going in and are relieved that Burton has played true to the material. Here is one scenario that is proof against a happy ending..



It has what is much better, a satisfactory mixed ending, in which what must happen, does. Along the way, with merciless performances by Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman, with a brooding production design by Dante Ferretti, with the dark shadows of Dariusz Wolski's cinematography, it allows Burton to evoke the 19th century London of Henry Mayhew's Labour and the London Poor, which reported on the dregs of London and greatly influenced Charles Dickens....

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray transfer is flawless, but... it becomes hard to differentiate between the actual 1080P transfer and the extensive art direction. In keeping with the film - it is expectantly dark with colors non-existent for most of the film. When they do appear (at the beach or with blood), or any day lit scenes, they can tend to seem even more vibrant as we've been overwrought with dingy dark grays and musty off-whites. Some will love this look - I was indifferent. This may reflect more on my feeling of the film which had no strong appeal personally speaking. The image even shows some decent depth and contrast is strong with heavy blacks. Background noise exists but it is limited and we aren't offered much grain. The image is fairly smooth and blemish-free. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a reasonable 25.6 Gig. I don't see evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. In fact I'd have to say the MPEG-4 AVC encoded image does a great job of representing the film 'look'. I have no strong complaints. I'll wager this is as good as Sweeney Todd will look for your home theater. Hopefully, the screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. If you like multiple shades of darkness then you'll find this pretty impressive.
















Audio & Music:  
The TrueHD was brilliant. I loved the
subtleties but the music rang so true and clean - it was quite wonderful. There isn't a ton of kick in the track but when it was called upon it responded generously. Stephen Sondheim's music has a wide range from the lilting to the more intensely chilling and this HD track exemplified its best qualities. There are two 5.1 DUBs and optional subtitles offered in
English, French, or Spanish.


I don't own the SD but believe this is all repeated from that lesser edition - excepting, of course, that it is all in HD on the
Blu-ray (aside from the press conference). There is a lot and only the absence of a commentary is regretful. History, the music, the play and many other factors are explored and analyzed throughout the supplemental featurettes and documentaries. No fans should be left wanting more.



Bottom line:
If this sounds like your 'gig' then the
Blu-ray will give you
plenty of reasons to indulge and enjoy. The film is wrought with meticulous detail after detail and from that standpoint it is immensely impressive. I enjoy Depp but this was not my personal cup of tea. Still, you can't like everything and fans of Burton should definitely give this a spin - it is inundated with his personal style.

Gary Tooze

October 16th, 2008





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