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"Why, Mr. Burton, wasn't I given a more significant part?
I mean, I am the leading lady; you could have at least used me.
Or, did you use me? Use me for my tits! Is that it,
Timothy?!? My breasts got me the job?!? I may
as well go be a waitress at Hooters, for all you care!"
Review written by: Alex Sandell
Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent from New York City to Sleepy Hollow to investigate numerous decapitations that have taken place in the area. Once he arrives in this superstitious village, he is told that the killings happened at the hands of the headless horseman. Crane automatically assumes that it's all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, and assures everyone that they're justidiotic small-town folk lacking the savoir fare needed to solve a case as complex as the one they've found themselves trapped in.
Of course, Mr. Crane is just being a toplofty dweeb, trying to impress the local yokels and get up Katrina Van Tassel's (Christina Ricci) dress. Before he knows it, he finds himself a true believer of the headless horseman, and other things that go bump in the night (unfortunately for him, not Katrina Van Tassel).
Director Tim Burton's visually stunning retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow left out the "Legend" part of the title for good reason. The original book, and the dozens of movies and plays that have followed it, all left the audience wondering if the horseman was real, or simply a legend concocted by a bunch of drunks in a dreary tavern. In Burton's version, the Headless Horseman is real, and he's out for blood. Lots of it. The problem with all of this is that Burton, and the dildos writing the screenplay, decided that they had to ask, "why?"
Early in the film, Ichabod receives a hint that guides him toward putting together, and solving, a long line of clues; like Sherlock Holmes without the well-groomed hair. The horseman is real, Crane deduces, but he must be killing for a reason. This is 1799; long before random school shootings and Doom video games. There just has to be a motive behind all the grisly lopping. Some evil person with an ulterior motive must be controlling the headless horsemen for his or her personal gain. Who would do something like this? And why? Of course we don't get to find out until the end of the movie, and I'm not going to give the "surprise" away to you. I will say that this "mystery," which takes up a large chunk of the second half of Sleepy Hollow, is where the film falters.
The first fifty-percent of Sleepy Hollow is an adrenaline packed hour of gothic chills that look, and feel, like the classic horror movies that scared the crap out of your grandparents 60 years ago. The film's visuals, alone, initially had me ready to give Sleepy Hollow the distinguished honor of being my favorite horror movie ever. Then, this bogus "the horsemen is merely a puppet acting out the evil deeds of his master" plotline comes flying out of no where, and bogs down the entire picture. It literally felt like kissing the girl of your dreams, and finding out she had really bad breath, and a frog's tongue.
An hour into the film, the headless horseman stops being eerie and mysterious, and just becomes an irritating mystery. In other words, the headless horror hero is the girl of your dreams with the tongue that catches flies with its swift dexterity and rotten shit-breath. Who the hell cares about some puppet that only kills when he is told to? Michael Keaton starring as Batman was a more frightening premise. The "mystery" quickly overstays its welcome, and, within minutes, you just wish everything would come together, so we could get back to the real story.
Of course nothing actually does come together until the very end, when the "bad guy" gives away every piece of the puzzle in a moment that would do any villain on Scooby-Doo proud. This lengthy explanation is about all we get, in way of character background. To make the film complete, we could actually use more. The romance between Ichabod and Katrina is never fleshed out (and with that groovy set of knockers Christina Ricci has sprouted, any "fleshing" would have been good), and they just seem to be in love, for no reason, other than the possibility of Ichabod having a "voluptuous rich chicks with lots of cleavage" fetish. We are never shown Katrina's longing for the outside world that Crane comes from, or her indecision over which man is truly right for her; the studly Brom (Casper Van Dien), or wobbly Ichabod.
No character, with exception made to Crane himself (Johnny Depp puts in an EXCELLENT performance, which is amazing, since I can't usually stand him), is ever fully developed. Most people are in the film for no reason other than to support a head which will be nicely sliced off at the throat. I wonder if each actor had to have their neck measured, before getting the roll. Now, I like my blood-letting as much as the next guy, but it would be nice to see a little blood let go from someone you actually cared about, or had at least gotten to know. Character development is a crucial ingredient missing from this film. Without it, and with the preposterous mystery, Sleepy Hollow feels like the PERFECT horror movie, gone bad.
As a sum of its parts, what does Sleepy Hollow turn out to be? One of the best episodes of Scooby-Doo ever made. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the movie, and would gladly see it a second time, just to go on the wild ride that leads up to the anti-climatic ending. I would recommend any movie fan sees it, just to view the craftsmanship that went into this film. It is as unique, and visually captivating, as anything you are ever likely to see. My only warning? Remember to vacate your cart 90 minutes into the ride, before it goes completely off track. Let the horseman remain a legend.
What are you selling us here???
No product placements, unless you count horses and wigs.
If it won an Oscar, what would it be?
"Best live-action Scooby-Doo movie of 1999" - Sleepy Hollow (beating out the ridiculously inane Bone Collector, which couldn't hold a candle to Scooby and the gang)
On a scale of 1-10?
Agree? Disagree? Wanna have cyber-sex? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
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Text ©(Copyright) 1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll send a mindless headless horseman after you, and ask him to rape you with his sword!
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