New York detective Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of mysterious deaths in which the victims are found beheaded. But the locals believe the culprit to be none other than the ghost of the legendary Headless Horseman.
et us get this over with right away. I do not think Johnny Depp was the right person for playing Ichabod Crane. Maybe I am too influenced by seeing him in Pirates of The Caribbean but I just do not think he was the right person for this role. He really did not work for me. He is to whimsical and gesticulating to be taken seriously as a scientifically inclined crime investigator as far as I am concerned. Too bad since the story itself and the movie was quite promising. As is often the case with Tim Burton’s work the movie has quite dark tone which I quite like. The various scruffy and suspicious characters that Ichabod meets right away as he enters the village inn fits right into the eerie atmosphere. Unfortunately Ichabod’s inclination for science clashes with the rest of the story which is undoubtedly supernatural. It makes the movie not really have a distinct direction but instead waddle with one foot in each camp. I would have preferred if the movie either had gone all science and in the end Ichabod had exposed an evil but perfectly human adversary by scientific means or if it had gone all supernatural and Ichabod was an adept at exposing (exorcising) supernatural beings rather than a scientist. Having said that, the movie was still a decent enough evening flick and fairly enjoyable. The footage and scenery are well done as one would expect from Tim Burton. It is not exactly a special effects loaded movie but what is there is fairly okay, at least for a movie from 1999.
It is you, Ichabod Crane, who is now put to the test. Sleepy Hollow is directed by Tim Burton and co-adapted to screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and Kevin Yagher from the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow written by Washington Irving. It stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Marc Pickering, Michael Gambon, Jeffrey Jones and Casper Van Dien. Music is scored by Danny Elfman and cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. 1799 New York, and Ichabod Crane, a timid but forward thinking detective, is sent to the way out village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a number of decapitations. A perfect match of director and actor to the source material, Sleepy Hollow unfolds as a fun filled creeper of such visual and aural pleasures, it's a wonder nobody thought to put the combination together earlier than 1999. Story is familiar, though with a few changes, and although some of the comedy ends up a bit sillier than is tonally appropriate (really, Ichabod, stop pushing the effeminate angle to breaking point), film runs along at a fair old clip and never wants for period devilment. It's never really scary when Walken's headless horseman isn't part of the scene, but it's very unlikely that Burton or Depp were aiming to soil underwear anyway. More a case of charming you whilst caressing the tingler on your spine. A case of style of substance? Yes, to a degree, but the source story still comes through the lavish eye candy painting to reveal itself proudly. Burton had created a world of Gothic mysticism, a blend of Hammer horror values and Brothers Grimm bad dreams, a land of swirling mists and tall shadows, where black, red and purple are essential colours. From the quaint duck pond in the centre of the village, to a creaky old windmill, there are visual treats galore here - which are enhanced magnificently by Elfman's foreboding rumbles. Costuming is first rate (Colleen Atwood), as is Lubezki's colour lensing and Rick Heinrich's production design. The cast are led superbly by Depp and appear to be pitching performances at just the right tone, such is the director's want. Although Ricci is sadly underused in a key role, and we could have done with more Richardson since she is wonderfully catty and yummy in equal measure. But with bona fide thespian quality in the support ranks (joining Gambon and Jones are Michael Gough, Ian McDiarmid and Richard Griffiths), picture never falls short of scene enhancers. Period peril with a glint in its eye, Sleepy Hollow is a delightful nights entertainment by the fire. 8/10