Hey folks, Harry here with MC's look at SLEEPY HOLLOW... Now to spare you the nitty gritty, he liked the film, but wasn't completely satisfied. His main problems seemed to lie with in some of the dialogue and lack of scares. These are the hardest types of reviews to write. The middle reviews. The movies you like, but have reservations about. And MC does a dang good job of telling you exactly what his mind did and did not react well to. Enjoy...
hey harry, readers and true believers, i saw sleepy hollow and i'd be more than happy to share my thoughts and feelings on it.
after getting ousted by some supervisory types at the screening for moving a piece of tape and sitting in the row the tape was blocking (TAPE!!! not exactly difficult to move, but whatever...), i found another decent seat - center, 5 rows back, moving past various costumed and non-costumed persons - queen amidala, witches, guy in ugly abercrombie and fitch shit - and plunking myself down, only slightly irked by my run-in with the theatrical lawwoman. got slightly more irked as the 730pm start time rolled around a past and no movie yet - just a white background, black lettering "tim burton's sleepy hollow" projected on the screen - and the audience started getting pretty antsy and loud soon thereafter until the sweet magical moment when the screen goes dark and the lights... well, the lights stayed up, and the collective intake of breath escaped, dissatisfied... and then the lights went down, and everyone cheered. they cheered again when tim burtons name came up, then later when johnny depps and cristina riccis came up as well - a practice i will never understand, cause, most of the time, no one involved with the film is there besides studio bastards like the one who made me move from the land of tape-sitting. not that i'm bitter - ha ha - let's just say i was ready for some nasty beheadings - and, thankfully, my appetite was whetted - i wasn't full, mind you, but i wasn't hungry, either.
anyway, let me preface the actual reviewing with some of my expectations - i was excited because, for one, this is burton and depp we're talking about and two, the trailers made it look like the film to get excited about, so i did. i wanted some good fights and great lopping off of heads, i wanted some great acting with or without a good dose of camp, i didn't care, some great looking stuff and some scares, or at least some creepiness... i wanted to get caught up in the thrill, in the atmosphere, in the moment, in the whatever it is that sweeps you up into a film and carries you until the final credits and drops you back into your seat, slightly sweaty and breathless, with a big ass smile on your face. is that so wrong? no. or at least so say i. so, let me start out by saying i was dissapointed. some of hopes were met, some not... fights and beheadings? check. Ray Park, no matter if he's the andie mcdowell of action guys (you know, she got her voice overdubbed by glenn close in greystoke - he's now been in one film with mad makeup and someone else's voice and here with NO HEAD) - he looks cool. he moves cool, he knows how much flourish to exhibit and when to get down to business - he's cool. the horse guy - don't know his name - is cool, too, but he's on a horse, so he just gets to ride around real fast and furious and stuff, which is pretty tough to do and look good, but it's not nearly as impressive as hand-to-hand combat, ya know? christopher walken's (the headed hessian horseman - say that 7 times fast) fight scenes are actually some of the coolest in the film and he looks even more freakish than usual, all done up with sharpened teeth (make-up a little sloppy here - his black extended gums are pretty obvious in close-up) and spooky contacts and hair more willy-nilly than usual, and he cuts some head nicely. ... park has a cool fight with depp and van dien - 2 on 1 seems to be a favorite, but burton's coverage of it is even worse than george lucas', so you know some cool shit is going down and you can see some of it, but burton obviously thinks he'll add to it by cutting around alot when you just want more time to see the probably brilliant cheoreography unfold. beheadings? check. great beheadings, marvelous beheadings - can't have enough beheadings, really... the lopped off heads look more lifelike... or deadlike.. okay, how about real, although i've never seen a head separated from it's body up close (far away - car accident on the side of the highway - yes - but i didn't get a close look and am glad for it) but anyway - they look good. kevin yeagher, who if i am remembering correctly did stuff for tales from the crypt for a long time, deserves mad propers for his work and needs more respect altoghether, i think, in the rick baker dominant world of live effects-land.
great acting? um... little check. Johnny Depp continues to be great, playing Ichabod both as both staunch and kind of a wimp - but rightly so, really, if you're a firm believer in reason (for reasons slowly revealed throughout the movie, which are sort of neat but ultimately useless and add nothing except a part for tim burton's girlfriend lisa marie) and you see a horseman with no head cut someone else's off in front of you. he manages to take parts with little in them and spin them off like no other actor would - and he looks cool, too, damn it. walken does almost nothing but growl, yes, but so what? he's there to look creepy and evil and mean and he does. the english actors are all good if underused - michael gambon, who's a busy bastard this year, with plunckett and macleane, the gambler, the insider all out this year in america, is great as the richest man in sleepy hollow, father to cristina ricci's character and husband to miranda richardson's, is typically great. michael gough - alfred in the batman movies - is alright. ian mcdiarmid (emperor in rotj and tpm) is way underused... blah blah blah... cristopher lee is in the movie, and that's about it for his part.. miranda richardson is hamming it up and having some fun in dual roles, casper van dien does what he's paid to do - stand around and look hunky, and cristina ricci - one of my favorite actresses in 98 - with opposite of sex and buffalo 66 - pretty much sucks here. she plays her role like she's bored with it or is high as hell, but she's neither innocent and sweet or attractive in any way or even interesting - easily the biggest dissapointment, acting wise, in the film. oh well... everybody gets campy at times, but most folks know when to turn it on and when to turn it off - though it doesn't help when the dialogue occasionally only borders on campy, and borders on wack at the same time. i expect andrew walker knew what he was doing - i like alot of his other stuff and think he seems pretty smart and original - but maybe it's a "too many cooks.." thing, with yaegher and tom stoppard throwing themselves into the mix as well... who know? but the script is pretty weak - very limited story, really, but this movie's almost all about the spectacle, so...
The look? uh... check. the look is terribly burton - not a bad thing - and intentionally sort of stagey and cheap, but inconsistently so, so sometimes it's very real and almost scary and involving and other times it's sort of asking for giggles and trying to be like the old school horror films it's paying homage to, but it doesn't work 100% of the time. the costumes are great and crane's inventions and the scarecrows in the film are so burton that everyone laughed warm insider chuckle laughs when they came on screen... obviously, a ton of the budget went into the look - building the town and the forest and all that - and it pays off, even if it doesn't always work in communicating to the audience.
scares? not even a little bit. no spooks, no jumps, no creepiness - just some slightly adrenalized thrills and small tingles of excitement when you know someone's about to get their head chopped off. i wanted to be creeped out at least a little bit, but no luck. oh well. basically, i was more scared by the disney version - way way more scared.
the film does not suck - it's not a raging mess like batman returns or mars attacks! (which i sort of enjoyed but a slaphappy fellow of a film) but it just never rises above somewhat coolish popcorn movie status - you have an alright time while you're watching it, but you walk out quite a bit less than titillated. it's constantly dragged down by the bad script and limited plot machinations and the black hole of presence ricci is... the humor is there but never too funny and when it is, it's in the acting and maybe the directing and never the writing... it's not a bad move for burton, occasionally impressive on many levels but thoroughly unimpressive as a film experience... still, it's worth a viewing, but nothing i could possibly say would discourage those who already want to see it, anyway - but it is not near what it could have been. it's an occasionally fun ride, occasionally a boring one, and, sadly, a sort of almost forgettable one.
MC Chill Wizard B