Sleepy Hollow (1999)


Watch Your Heads

October Horror-thon continues, as does my pleas to get my friend Loni back into my reviews, with the Tim Burton movie Sleepy Hollow. I wasn’t really sure if this movie was actually intended to be a horror movie when I pulled it out of my collection, but I feel like it holds up. Plus, Johnny Depp is in it, so Loni should be in. Sleepy Hollow is directed by Tim Burton, and stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Lee, and Ian McDiarmid, as well as some stunt work by Ray Park, so I get to reuse so many people that have been in my reviews before and will be again when I lay down some Harry Potter goodness.

1799, New York City, constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a strange character and investigator of murders. His superiors do not agree of his scientific autopsy techniques, but they dispatch him to Sleepy Hollow to investigate some recent murders. Those murders involve the decapitation of 5 people, with their heads going missing. He gets there to investigate and is greeted by the cleavage of Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci). At first, his scientific mind leads him to believe that a mortal serial killer is using the towns mythos to hide his crimes, taking this movie dangerously close to the other Johnny Depp joint, From Hell. But Crane soon finds out that the killer is actually the mythological creature called the Headless Horseman (at this point, Ray Park). Crane is told that the Horseman was once a brutal and sadistic Hessian mercenary (Christopher Walken, when his head is on) who was beheaded for his brutality and has come back to life because someone stole his noggin and is using it to control him. Crane then systematically suspects everybody in the town until they come up dead and he starts suspecting the next person he sees.

This movie is pretty thoroughly meh, if I might scare Loni off again. There are lots of things that work and a couple things that don’t. The story itself is pretty solid but I found myself drifting out of it from time to time. Tim Burton, as he seems to like doing, has taken a classic story and made it more dark and twisted. This time, he took an older story from the 1800s or so that was then made into a Disney movie. I pretty much only knew about it from the Disney movie, and I don’t even remember that very well because I didn’t like it that much. But this is a story that works as a darker, gory version. Unfortunately, he also felt the need to add in things about how Crane wanted to use science and autopsies in a time where that was frowned upon and things about conspiracies in the small town. I had always heard the story that the Horseman took heads because he lost his and wanted a new one (and who wouldn’t want Johnny Depp’s head, am I right, Loni?), and that story would work on it’s own. And, according to Wikipedia, the Horseman was more than likely Van Tassel’s other suitor, Brom (Casper Van Dien), who killed Crane to get Christina Ricci (which I would totally do as well). Both of those stories work on their own, we don’t need back story about autopsies and conspiracy and some confusing thing about Ichabod’s mother. That stuff was boring. But the Horseman parts were pretty sweet.

As with most Tim Burton movies, the look and atmosphere trump all else. Sleepy Hollow and the surrounding area seem to be practically devoid of sunlight and are constantly drenched in fog and spooky looking trees. The coolest things were surrounding the gore. The decapitated heads were very realistic. I know 1999 isn’t THAT old, but I’ve seen big budget movies that have come out recently that have worse looking heads than this one does. All of those gory effects worked very well. And when Depp starts hacking into the tree that sits over the Horseman’s body, and the tree seems to bleed and have flesh underneath it, that was very well done and creepy as well. The costumes were nice looking as well. I especially loved the cleavage. Also, I wanna get one of them jackets like Johnny wears in this. I like those old style jackets and I need to find one that isn’t ridiculously priced.

The performances are mostly bland or hammed up. And this movie (I think) was going for a horror movie vibe, but had no scares. It had gore, so it could be a slasher film, but most of the main actors seemed to go more for an odd quirky comedy performance, and I didn’t think it fit. I didn’t really get the character Johnny Depp was going for. He was a constable, so you’d assume he’s seen death pretty frequently, and he was a big proponent for autopsies, but he gets squeamish looking at gore. Well, sometimes. Other times he dove right in. Christina Ricci made no real impact on me beyond her hotness. I got really sad when I recognized Dead Dumbledore was in this ’cause he dead now, but he did a fine job at his smaller part. But there were a lot of big actors with smaller parts in this movie. Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) was in this, Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), the dude from Starship Troopers (Casper Van Dien), Spike from Stay Tuned (Jeffrey Jones), Sarumon (Christopher Lee), and Alfred (Michael Gough) were all in this, but all had pretty small parts. Christopher Walken was creepy, but kinda hammed it up as the Horseman. But that explains the greater majority of Christopher Walken performances. Creepy, weird, and a little hammed up.

That’ll do for this review. It’s a decent enough watch with a hit or miss story and matching performances, but you can’t deny the appeal of Tim Burton’s style. I’ll go ahead (get it? a head!) and give this movie “You are bewitched by reason” out of “He was dead to begin with.”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.

Star Wars: Episodes I, II, and III (1999, 2002, and 2005)


Twi’leks are hot!

As requested, I will be reviewing the Star Wars films in two reviews, by their trilogies.  First, the prequel trilogy (Episodes I, II, and III) and next the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI).  Do I need to display their numbers as Roman numerals?  Probably not.  But I’m gonna.  Before I jump in to my first attempt to do multiple movies in one review, I will warn you that I will be spoiling in this review.  But, on the other hand, if you haven’t seen Star Wars by this point in your life, I hate you.

Episode I – The Phantom Menace.  (1999)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there are trade disputes.  The Trade Federation has put a blockade around the planet of Naboo and two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are sent in to fix it.  The Viceroy of the Trade Federation gets the order from Darth Sidious to kill the two Jedi.  But the Jedi won’t go down easy.  They fight their way out and stow aboard a ship going to Naboo.  Here they meet the ruination of the Star Wars series, Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best).  With him, they go to visit the recently captured Queen of the … Nabooians? … Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman or Keira Knightley, depending on when you see her) and rescue her, taking her to Tatooine.  They meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd for the time being), a slave of a flying blue thing named Watto, and make a wager with Watto for Anakin’s freedom and the parts they need to repair their ship.  Commence 15 minutes of pod racing!  They win and leave.  Qui-Gon wants Anakin because, as with most religious type figures, he likes little boys.  No, it’s because he has an unusually high count of midichlorians, little creatures that get you tied in to the Force … and also clean a pool really well.  They head to the capital planet of Coruscant and get Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) elected Supreme Chancellor of the Senate, a decision that will in no way come back to bite them in the ass.  They go back to Naboo to try to save the planet and the two Jedi get into a fight with Darth Sidious’ apprentice, Darth Maul (Ray Park).  He kills Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan kills him right back.  Then they save Naboo.  Obi-Wan is made a Jedi Knight and takes Anakin on as his apprentice, as per Qui-Gon’s last request.

Episode II – Attack of the Clones.  (2002)

10 years later, same far, far away galaxy, a Separatist movement has been set up against the Republic behind former Jedi, Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).  Amidala (Now a Senator and occasionally Rose Byrne), returns to Coruscant to vote on some junk and someone tries to kill her, instead killing her stand-in.  Obi-Wan and grown up Anakin (Hayden Christensen) are assigned to protect her.  After another assassination attempt, Obi-Wan is goes to Kamino (or as the Mexicans call it, El Kamino) in search of the assassin.  Anakin goes with Amidala back to Naboo to tell her his dissertation about why he hates sand so much.  Hating sand gets this woman moist and they start getting all romantic like.  On Kamino, Obi-Wan finds out that a now dead Jedi had ordered the production of a clone army, all cloned from Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison).  Eventually they fight, but Jango escapes.  Obi-Wan follows him to Geonosis, a planet where they’re creating a droid army.  Then he gets captured.  Back on Naboo, Anakin is having bad dreams about his momma dying so he and Amidala go back to Tatooine.  There, they find that she was sold to a guy who freed and married her, then she was taken by Tusken Raiders.  Anakin goes and finds her, but she’s been tortured nigh to death and dies in his arm.  So he kills all the men, women, and children in the Tusken camp.  Okay, perhaps he overreacted.  They get a message from Obi-Wan and go to save him, but then get captured themselves.  In classic Bond villain style, they are to be executed in an overly complicated way that always works.  They escape and the rest of the Jedi show up.  Then Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson, mother fucker!) cuts off Jango Fett’s head.  This makes Baby Boba (Daniel Logan), his son, sad.  In order to make this move on Geonosis, Jar Jar had to go and fuck up things more by giving emergency powers to Palpatine, who passes the use of clone soldiers.  A big battle engages and Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Amidala chase down Dooku.  Dooku soundly beats them both in a lightsaber duel, cutting off one of Anakin’s arms in the process.  Then Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) comes in and whoops all up on that ass.  Dooku escapes.  At the end, Anakin (with new robo arm) gets married to Amidala in secret.

Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.  (2005)

Obi-Wan and Anakin infiltrate the flagship of General Grievous (voiced by Matthew Wood), commander of the Separatist droid army, to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.  They again fight Dooku, who promptly knocks out Obi-Wan.  Anakin, on the other hand, cuts off both Dooku’s arms and then executes him, being egged on by Palpatine.  (Did you get the “on the other hand” pun?  You’re welcome)  Back to Coruscant, Anakin meets up with Amidala again and she reveals she’s been knocked up by his Jedi jizz.  Anakin starts having visions of Amidala dying during childbirth and vows he won’t let it happen.  And he especially won’t be the CAUSE of it happening.  Because of his closeness to Palpatine, the Jedi Council tell him to monitor Palpatine.  Anakin has begun to get all emo on the Council because of Palpatine’s manipulation and their denial of his promotion to Jedi Knight.  I hear you, Ani.  Palpatine also gets Anakin’s attention by telling him he’s heard of a dark side of the Force ability to keep people from dying.  Anakin figures out that Palpatine is Darth Sidious, Lord of the Sith.  Obi-Wan is sent after Grievous and kills him.  Mace Windu goes to make sure Palpatine relinquishes his control of the Senate with the death of Grievous and Anakin tells him that Palpatine is the Sith Lord.  Windu orders Anakin to stay behind as he confronts Palpatine, but Anakin is torn because he believes Palpatine is the only one that can save Amidala.  Mace fights Sidious and wins, until Anakin goes and screws it up.  Sidious starts shooting some lightning at Windu, but it’s deflected back at himself, fucking up his face and starting to kill him.  Anakin rashly cuts Windu’s arm off and Sidious shoots Windu out the window.  Sidious then names Anakin his apprentice in the dark side, changing his name to Darth Vader (probably naming him after those Star Wars movies).  Then Sidious sends Vader out to kill all the children in the Jedi Temple, and then go to Mustafar to kill the Separatist leaders.  Obi-Wan finds out what Anakin has done and informs Amidala, but she won’t tell him where Anakin’s gone.  But he stows away on her ship as she goes to confront him.  Feeling he’s been betrayed by Amidala because she brought Obi-Wan there, he Force chokes her into passing out, then Obi-Wan and Anakin get into one hell of a lightsaber battle.  Yoda tries to stop Palpatine by attacking him directly, but is unable to defeat him and must escape.  Obi-Wan has better luck and cuts off Anakin’s legs as Anakin tries to attack from an inferior position.  Then Obi-Wan collects Amidala and leaves Anakin burning up by a lake of lava.  Amidala does die during childbirth, but the twins (Luke and Leia) live.  Who knows if those kids will ever make something of themselves, coming from a broken home as they do.  Darth Sidious rescues Vader from near death and turns him all robotic, telling him of Amidala’s demise.  He yells “no”.  Leia is given to a Senator from Alderaan to raise, and Luke is taken back to Tatooine to be raised by his step-family, Owen and Beru, under the watchful eye of Obi-Wan.  The rest of the Jedi are spread throughout the galaxy, waiting for their moment to return.

WOW!  That’s a gundamn lot of writing, and I haven’t even started reviewing!  Oh well, here we go.

The Phantom Menace is, almost inarguably, the worst movie of the 6.  It looks pretty as hell, especially when they’re on Naboo, but almost everything else about this movie doesn’t work.  Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman all perform well.  Jake Lloyd got on my nerves a little, but most of that was probably the dialogue (“Are you an angel?”)  Also, this kid was basically Jedi Jesus, as it’s revealed that he was immaculately conceived.  Of course, everyone knows that Jar Jar Binks was horribly annoying in every way.  Conversely, Ray Park as Darth Maul was a total metal badass.  Too bad he only got to be in one movie.  The basic premise of the movie starts off poorly too because it’s about trade disputes.  How do you make a trade dispute interesting?  Jedi!  And then it’s still not that interesting.  All the little skinny droids, which are the main soldiers in the movie, are completely useless, almost as much so as Storm Troopers.  The pod racing was a horrible position to be in during this movie.  It took 15 minutes and was really boring.  It was like watching intergalactic Nascar.  Hell, even Jabba the Hutt fell asleep during it.  The dialogue was pretty bad in parts of this movie.  Also, it made me think that George Lucas has the sense of humor of a 5 year old.  At one point, Jar Jar steps in poodoo and, at another point, a creature farts.  This is supposed to be humor.  This one was not a horrible movie, but it was a let down for the movie that brings back the Star Wars saga after so many years of waiting.

Attack of the Clones comes next and gives Jar Jar the backseat.  He passes on his crown of “Most annoying thing in Star Wars” to Hayden Christensen.  This kid was trying throughout the entire movie to act his way out of a paper bag, but remained in it until the very end of the next movie.  Ewan McGregor gets better in this movie and also shows the audience that Obi-Wan’s favorite pastime is cutting off people’s hands in bars.  Natalie Portman does the best she can do with the shitty romantic dialogue that Lucas wrote for her, but also makes us think she’s retarded by leaving the STUPIDEST THING SHE KNOWS IN CHARGE OF HER PLANET!  How you gonna make Jar Jar a senator?!  It’s because of him that everything bad in the Star Wars series happens.  On the other hand, we wouldn’t have the original trilogy without his actions.  I also think it’s strange that I can’t get myself a girlfriend but a smokin’ hot biddy like Natalie Portman will get busy with a guy that just indiscriminately killed men, women, and children.  Not a horrible movie again, and it’s on it’s way towards getting better.

Revenge of the Sith elevates the prequel trilogies from the abyss it would have been in if the third had been on par with one of the others.  It seems to have to stuff a lot into the amount of time it has because it has to tie up all the loose ends and get us ready for A New Hope.  In the beginning of this, beloved robot R2D2 reminds us why we all love him so as he takes on a giant robot trooper as he’s surrounded by others.  R2D2’s like a honey badger!  He just don’t give a fuck!  You little badass you.  Anyways, Hayden is back and as bad as ever.  In this movie, credulity is stretched as Anakin starts getting more and more obviously dark side-leaning.  He starts wearing clothes as emo as he’s acting; getting all black and dark and morose.  And, again, why the hell couldn’t Lucas get someone from a famous romance movie or something to come in and write his romantic dialogue for him?  The rest of the dialogue ranges from fine to awesome, but when someone is falling in love, it’s all “You’re beautiful” “That’s because I’m in love” “No, it is because I am the one who is in love … with you!”  As for examples of the other dialogue, the way Palpatine manipulates others (throughout all of the movies, but especially here) is sublime.  I was fixing to join the dark side if he kept going.  The end of the movie is where everything is at it’s best.  Ewan McGregor is awesome as he’s just defeated Anakin and you can watch his heart break as he has to defeat someone he’s so close to for the evil he’s committed.  Hayden is at his best when he shuts the fuck up and kills younglings and Separatists.  And the climax of the movie is everything you hoped it would be.  Big ass battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin in a place that looks like Hell itself.  Yoda and Sidious throwing down in the giant Council chambers.  The birth of Luke and Leia and the birth of Darth Vader as we know him.  Then they kinda screw it up with Vader’s “NOOOOOOOoooooooooo!”  But it’s not that bad, just a little goofy.

So that’s it.  The longest review I’ve done (until possibly tomorrow).  Altogether these movies are of course the weakest of the saga, but it’s so hard to surpass the original trilogy’s glory for me.  The awesome thing about these movies being first in the chronology of the series but last in real-time chronology is that this series gets to steadily increase in awesomeness, unlike most movies that get worse and worse as they go on.  None of us will remember it that way, but when my blu-rays are passed down to my children and their children, they’ll think that’s the order they came out in and all will be right in the world.  The first two could be skipped, but to use them as a build up to the pretty epic conclusion of the third is worth the time.  The Star Wars prequel trilogy gets a “You were supposed to be the Chosen One!” out of “I hate sand”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.