It’s three years since Tim Burton’s last film “Mars Attacks” hit the screen and now he’s back with this stylish, yet sadly empty version of the classic headless horseman legend. The cinematography, production design, artwork, etc. are all absolutely stunning – visually this is one of the most atmospheric and effective looking films in years.
Burton’s twisted creations fit the setting of this legend absolutely perfectly and don’t be surprised if some of those areas get Oscar nominations – they’re that good and they are what make this film a classic. The special FX are also amazing and perfectly flawless, no hint of blue screens or model work – and the horseman itself is superbly done.
Performance wise though its disappointing with Johnny Depp’s stuffy and cowardly Ichabod Crane providing the only truly good performance from the film. From the way he uses a little boy as cover when approaching a cave, to his little “interesting” remarks and facial expressions – this is Depp at his best in sometime.
The rest of the cast though, whether its on purpose or not, are stuck in performances about as wooden as those in a certain George Lucas sci-fi film a few months back. This is a real shame considering the great talent onscreen, especially many of the townsmen who are such great actors stuck in two-line roles.
But the real place it falls down sadly is the script – the plot is paper thin and some of the dialogue is just god awful. The action and dark elements Burton has added makes it a bit better (though how he thought it could get a PG-13 I don’t know). There’s a twist of course, though its a relatively disappointing one. This film heaps it on in style but in substance its sorely lacking. Its great to see Burton’s skill on screen again, and its visual content alone is enough to ensure a higher score then it deserves, but I just wish he had better material to work with.