Sleepy Hollow

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Tim Burton, long known for his dark style of directing, is at it again with his latest movie…a take on the classic tale of the headless horseman. Burton, best known for his megahit “Batman” and earlier works like “Edward Scissorhands” and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” show his range as a director. With Sleepy Hollow, Burton has teamed up once again with Johnny Depp, who also played the lead in two other of Burton’s films, “Edward Scissorhands” and “Ed Wood”. In Sleepy Hollow, a bit of Burton’s tongue and cheekness comes to life (no pun intended) and it’s a major part of what makes the movie play so well. Johnny Depp, as usual, is fantastic as the “revamped” version of Ichabod Crane (who was always referred to and made out to be a wicked old man who sort of looked like Mr. Burns of “The Simpsons”), but Depp plays the part to a tee and is relaxed enough with Burton that he has fun doing it. Christina Ricci, going the opposite way from her usual independent film route, is good as the leading lady, but her accent could use some work here and there. Rounding out the ensemble cast is Jeffrey Jones (among others) and Christopher Walken who is usually good in most every role he plays.

Sleepy Hollow opens with what we’d expect, a bang. Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is an inventive New York City detective (more of an all around specialist) who is getting into some deep water with his ingenious and rather unusual ways to solve crimes. He uses potions and powders, yet is almost terrified at the sight of blood. He is sent to an upper New England town of Sleepy Hollow to help solve a murder where the victims are, oh yes, decapitated! Crane, being the scientist he is will not believe that there is some “ghost or ghoul” that is going around chopping off people’s heads and figures that there must be a rational reason for it all. So, of course, it’s not long after this that he meets face to face (so to speak) with the headless horseman, and as the title says “heads will roll”. There is an underlying romance with Depp and Ricci’s character, but after her fiance to be’s head is chopped off (ok, actually his upper body was chopped off) things are a bit dicey between the two. This also brings us to the point of the movie…why is this spirit doing this? Why is a headless horseman going around at random (or is it random) chopping off poor folks heads? We are shown what can only be the “origin” of the headless horseman and it accounts as to why he’s doing it, but I won’t spoil any details and tell you what that reason is.

One thing that the movie sort of delves into is the use of witchcraft. I found this interesting that Depp’s character is on the cutting edge of science and in a speech delivered early in the film states that “we are on the edge of a new millenium”, while Ricci’s character is very into the mystic arts, using brews and witchcraft and all…maybe it’s the contrast of the two that makes them so good on screen…overall, Sleepy Hollow is a very good movie to watch and a very fine job by Paramount making an entrance into the Special Edition market. A must for all Tim Burton fans and at least worth a rent for anyone who might be curious…

Video: How does it look?

Sleepy Hollow may not look right on your TV. While it’s one of the most visually stunning movies that I’ve had the chance to see on DVD, you may be a bit confused by how it looks. The colors are grey and black and almost every shade in between the two. Red is basically only used for blook (and there’s a lot of it), and the 1.85:1 image is enhanced for 16:9 TV’s. Not a shread of pixelation, not any compression errors or artifacts this picture is one that I will use to show how good DVD’s can look. Perfect.

Audio: How does it sound?

I can remember seeing “Being John Malkovich” in the movie theater (which is not a movie for sound) and hearing a thump coming from the other theater. I went out in the hall and noticed that the movie that was making all the noise was in fact “Sleepy Hollow”. I immediately thought…that should sound pretty good on DVD (yes, that’s me…always thinking of the site and your satisfaction first!). So when Sleepy Hollow arrived, I was immediately impressed by the sound. It’s a very active mix that is not afraid to use the subwoofer at almost anytime. The most action comes from the front two speakers (as with most movies) and the overall mix is nothing short of perfection. Hearing a horse gallop right through your room would be a close second to the range of this soundtrack. Trust me when I say that the auido does not disappoint. Oh, by the way, the audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 in case you were wondering.

Supplements: What are the extras?

While not labeled a Special Edition by Paramount (I wonder what will be on a disc when they do label it as such), there is quite a bit of material here. The most interesting feature is the audio commentary by Tim Burton. It’s Burton only, so compared to his track on Pee Wee’s big adventure there are a lot of lull’s in there, but it’s still very interesting. Also included is a 30 minute behind the scenes featurette which shows how the headless horseman came to be and some other tricks of the movie. Interviews with the cast and crew are very informative and rounding out the features are a photo gallery and some cast bios. Not a bad effrot from Paramount here, I was duly impressed and you will be as well.

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