If I was a lot younger I would love Sleepy Hollow, and when I was I did. Convolutions aside this is to say that I don’t anymore. It used to be that a Tim Burton movie was cause for Celebration, but at some point either Burton lost his way; or I grew up.
Looking back at Burton’s work I’m amazed I ever found something to like as much as I did. I get the common theme that runs throughout most of his films, but the only time that’s ever truly worked is with the sublime Ed Wood. It’s remarkable that with each film they make together, Tim Burton and his actor of choice, Johnny Depp; only seem to get worse. Depp’s performances become more and more outlandish as Burton either doesn’t care to reign him in or is just enamoured with his Actor. Whereas Burton is allowed to run free with whatever crazy idea pops into his head. It wouldn’t be so bad if every idea wasn’t variations on the same thing. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Then here let this video help you.
Funny, but truthful. Sleepy Hollow is the start of Burton in his comfort zone. This is around the time where he starts to play within his very limited sandbox, and though there’s more than a touch of the Hammer Horror about it, the results are more boring than fun.
That’s the worst thing about watching Sleepy Hollow. When the film isn’t concentrating on the Headless Horseman it’s really not all that enjoyable, and even a little boring. Christina Ricci is fine, as is everyone else, but it feels simply like Burton is going through the motions until he gets to throw in a flashback to Christopher Walken or a twisted visual. It’s only really during those sequences that the film comes alive (There’s no such thing as a bad beheading). Burton relishes the red stuff here (Which must’ve been a challenge for a man who sees the world in shades of Black) which makes the rest of it so painful to sit through.
Depp too starts to show his worst traits with this film. His Ichabod Crane is a bag of nervous tics and curious accents, and though it’s fun to have a protagonist who’s completely ill equipped to face what he’s up against, there’s better ways to show that than Depp does here. It’s certainly not the worst work Depp has done (Step forward Willy Wonka and the Mad Hatter. I wonder what kind of Director let him get away with tha–. Oh.)
It’s hard for me to pinpoint just why I dislike the film so much now. I remember loving it when it first came out, and it was one of the first DVD’s I remember buying. I felt the same way watching Batman and Batman Returns again recently. Batman Returns in particular from what I can only call Tim Burtonism. What once seemed new and exciting loses its appeal the more you see it, and Burton’s reliance on what’s worked for him in the past have become so overused that you can’t help but scoff when they show up. What once seemed like the look into a Man with a vivid imagination just becomes quirk without rhyme or reason. The same way that Michael Bay throws moments into his films because they look ‘Cool’, Burton does them because they look ‘Quirky’. It’s almost as if he doesn’t trust himself to just tell a story the way it needs to be told (Which makes Ed Wood all the more remarkable), and it’s a shame too because the man is undoubtedly talented. I hope he challenges himself one day and makes a romantic comedy or something, but I think he’s just happy where he is.
Up next: Roger Moore acts.