If you're a fan of either Tim Burton or Johnny Depp, or indeed their collaborations, then that's all you'll need to know about 'Sweeney Todd'. It gathers all the elements that make Johnny Depp such a unique actor and all the characteristics that identify a Tim Burton movie and then adds flair, drama and a lively score to complete the picture.

Benjamin Barker (Depp) is considered one of the finest barbers in London. He has a beautiful wife and a gorgeous baby daughter but someone isn't happy to see him succeed and that someone happens to have a lot of power. Judge Turpin (Rickman) has a master plan and if Barker was out of the way for good then everything could fall into place.

Years later, after having been exiled for a crime he did not commit, Benjamin Barker, now trading under the name Sweeney Todd, sails back onto English shores, intent on revenge. He crosses paths with Mrs Lovett (Bonham-Carter), a charming lady with loose morals, who runs a pie shop below his loft home. An accomplice is born.

Across town Turpin has adopted Todd's daughter Johanna (Wisener) after her mother poisoned herself. He has plans for the girl, but not the kind that a loving father would have, as Todd's friend Anthony (Campbell Bower) finds out when he takes a shine to the girl.

Back at the pie shop a seed of suggestion is planted in Todd's head when Mrs Lovett develops a taste for priest pie. Later, Signor Adolfo Pirelli (Baron Cohen) is the first to fall victim to the plan after he agrees to challenge Todd for the crown of top barber, later getting the most costly shave of his life. And so the demonic pattern begins to emerge and nobody is safe in Todd's chair from that moment on.

Johnny Depp is exceptional as the singing, charming barber with an extraordinarily dark compulsion. His attention to detail and ability to really delve into the disturbed character's inner-world are fascinating. His co-star Helena Bonham-Carter is also noteworthy, complementing him well and adding great comic charm to the movie. In lesser roles, Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Ed Sanders impress, but there can be no doubting that Depp is the star of this twisted tale.

'Sweeney Todd' is a rare gem - a seeming juxtaposition of violence and upbeat numbers that somehow works really well. On one hand, it's all about the visual gloom of Fleet Street (the rats, the rain and the characters lurking in the shadows), while on the other hand it splashes the most crimson blood into every other scene to a catchy score, turning everything upside down, injecting passion and colour into the dreary world that Todd inhabits - and it makes for an interesting mix.

'Sweeney Todd' tells its story fairly comprehensively through song, but without imposing too much on those who might not necessarily be fans of the musical genre. Depp and Bonham-Carter, who have the majority of the musical numbers, can both hold a tune, as can Irish actress Jayne Wisener, who plays the object-of-war Johanna.

Great sets, costumes and recreation of a time-frame further make 'Sweeney Todd' a compelling spectacle - one which deals with a violent subject matter in the most lively and comic manner and, as a result, comes off as a surprisingly light affair.

Linda McGee