REVIEW: CENTURION

 

CAST

Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Olga Kurylenko (Hitman)
Dominic West (Punisher: Warzone)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
David Morrissey (Blitz)
JJ Feild (Last Orders)
Noel Clarke (4.3.2.1.)
Riz Ahmed (Venom)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Imogen Poots (Need for Speed)
Paul Freeman (MMPR: The Movie)
Rachael Stirling (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)

Michael Fassbender in Centurion (2010)Beginning in 117 AD, the narrative opens with a Roman soldier fleeing across a snowy landscape, saying: “My name is Quintus Dias. I am a soldier of Rome, and this is neither the beginning, nor the end of my story.”Dominic West and Olga Kurylenko in Centurion (2010)The Romans have been unable to fully conquer Britain, meeting the fiercest resistance in the north, reaching a harsh stalemate that’s lasted a gruelling twenty years. The Picts of Alba are engaging in a guerrilla campaign against the Roman forts along the Glenblocker line and the Gask Ridge at the southern border of the Scottish Highlands. At the Roman outpost of Pinnata Castra, Pictish warriors led by Vortix and Aeron force surprise and kill the entire garrison, taking only one survivor for questioning, the second-in-command, Centurion Quintus Dias, because he can speak the Pictish tongue. Dias is brought before the Pictish king Gorlacon, who has united the northern tribes. Dias is brutally interrogated, but two weeks later escapes on foot.However, a messenger dispatched by the fort’s commander has reached Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman governor of Britannia, who wants to obtain favour with the Roman Senate, hoping to secure a transfer back to the comforts of Rome. He dispatches the Ninth Legion, under General Titus Flavius Virilus, to eradicate the Pictish threat and provides him with a female Celtic Brigantian scout called Etain. As the legion marches north it encounters Dias and rescues him from his pursuers, saving his neck just in the nick of time.Dominic West in Centurion (2010)Etain betrays the legion to King Gorlacon by leading them into an ambush where, surprised by a rolling legion of massive flaming pitch-wood ‘boulders’, they are easily annihilated. The wounded general is captured. Dias is one of the few survivors, along with the legionaries Bothos, Thax, Brick, Macros and Leonidas (a Greek), and Tarak (a mere cook). They set out to rescue general Virilus and, after a few days’ travel, they find him at Gorlacon’s village and sneak in at nightfall. However, they are unable to break his chains and he orders them to leave him and get back to Roman territory. During the attack, Thax, taking shelter in Gorlacon’s hut, suffocates the king’s young son, who had spotted them, to prevent him crying out.The next morning, Gorlacon burns his son’s body on a funeral pyre and forces General Virilus to fight Etain in single combat. Etain, who as a child witnessed her parents brutally raped and slaughtered by the Romans; and now on a vendetta, kills him with a spear through the heart. Gorlacon then sends her after the fleeing legionaries at the head of a small group of mounted warriors, including Vortix and Aeron, to seek revenge for his son’s death.Imogen Poots in Centurion (2010)The seven Romans plan to travel north (away from Roman territory) to throw the Picts off their trail, then head west, and then back south. After several days’ pursuit, the Picts being excellent trackers, continually catch up with the fugitives, who jump off a cliff into a river to escape them, (although Tarak, who had broken his foot, is killed before he can jump). Macros and Thax become separated from the others. Dias and his group camp for the night, while their trackers set up camp across the river. Dias and Brick launch a night raid on the enemy camp, killing two men and severely wounding a third, from whom they discover that they are being pursued because of the death of Gorlacon’s son, which scoundrel Thax had kept secret. However, Etain has launched her own attack on the Romans’ campsite. Dias and Brick return to their camp to discover Leonidas dead and Bothos severely wounded.Michael Fassbender in Centurion (2010)Macros and Thax are now running from a wolf pack. Thax pretends to fall, with the wolves in close pursuit, and cries out to his comrade for help. Macros returns to help him and a traitorous Thax hamstrings him to prevent him from standing, allowing Thax to escape while the wolves attack and devour Macros. Dias, Bothos and Brick find a hut in the forest belonging to Arianne, a Pictish exile accused of witchcraft who has learned Latin from the soldiers at a nearby Roman frontier outpost. She shelters them, providing food, and medical attention for Bothos. When Etain and her warriors arrive the following day, Arianne confronts her while the Romans hide in her grain store under the floorboards. The next morning they leave Arianne, who provides them with enough food to travel to the outpost. Arianne, having become fond of Dias, is saddened to see him go; left again to her solitude.Olga Kurylenko in Centurion (2010)They find the outpost abandoned, with an order pinned to a post saying that the Roman troops have retreated south, by the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Seeing Etain and her warriors approaching and fed up with running, they set up a defensive position inside the fort. Brick is killed, but the three Romans kill Vortix, Aeron, and the rest of the Picts, with Dias ending the fight by killing Etain.Centurion (2010)Taking the Picts’ horses, Dias and Bothos continue southwards and en route are reunited with Thax. Upon reaching Hadrian’s Wall, which is now under construction, Thax, afraid that he will report his dishonourable actions, threatens Dias and they fight, with Dias overpowering and choking Thax to death. Bothos, joyfully riding towards the Romans, is mistaken for a charging Pict (because of his pelted tunic instead of armour) and is shot by an archer. Dias is outraged and crestfallen at the worthlessness of it all. He reports to Agricola, who is concerned that news of the legion’s annihilation might cause other tribes to rise up against them. He is also fearful of his record and status being tainted by a military failure, and decides that the Ninth Legion’s fate should remain a mystery and that Dias must be silenced/killed. Centurion (2010)Dias, however, manages to foil the attempt on his life by Agricola’s daughter Druzilla, although he is badly wounded in the thigh during the fracas. Disgusted at their treatment of their own ‘heroes’ and disillusioned by their ‘true colours’, he knocks Druzilla unconscious with a punch then escapes from the camp and returns to where he realises “he belongs”, back to Arianne in the forest. As the weakened Dias lies in her arms by the stream, his life in her hands once again, he and Arianne kiss. The film ends with Quintus Dias adjusting the narrative of the film’s opening line: My name is Quintus Dias. I am a fugitive of Rome, and this is neither the beginning, nor the end of my story.”UntitledNeither side is portrayed as the “good guys” or the “bad guys”, and to me, that brought a sense of realism with it. This is a bloody film, with heads rolling and a plethora of fighting, so don’t bring the kiddies. I watched it On Demand, but I might go see it again in the theater.

REVIEW: KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

CAST

Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey (Pirates of The Caribbean 4)
Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond)
Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones)
Jude Law (spy)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Kingsley Ben-Adir (The Commuter)
Craig McGinlay (Snapshot)
Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy)
Katie McGrath (Supergirl)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)
Freddie Fox (The Three Musketeers)
Peter Guinness (Alien 3)
David Beckham (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)

Mordred, an iron-fisted warlock, and his armies lay siege to Camelot, seeking to establish the dominance of magic-wielding mages over humankind. Uther Pendragon, king of the Britons, infiltrates Mordred’s lair and beheads him, saving Camelot. Uther’s treacherous brother Vortigern, who covets the throne, orchestrates a coup and sacrifices his wife Elsa to moat hags to become a demon knight, who kills Uther’s wife and slays him in combat. The only survivor is Uther’s son, who drifts away in a boat and ends up in Londinium, where he is found and raised by prostitutes.Arthur grows into a skilled fighter and man of the streets. Arthur and his friends confront a group of Vikings who had mistreated one of the prostitutes, forcing him to pay her restitution. Afterwards, the brothel is raided by the Blacklegs, Vortigern’s minions, and Arthur learns that the Vikings were under the king’s protection. Arthur tries to escape the city but is caught and put on a ship with hundreds of other men; the Blacklegs have been forcing all men of Arthur’s age to try to pull a sword that has appeared near the castle from the surrounding stone. Arthur is able to remove the sword but is quickly overwhelmed by its power and passes out. Vortigern meets with him in the dungeon, revealing his true lineage.Meanwhile, a mage identifying herself as an acolyte of Merlin presents herself to Uther’s former general, Sir Bedivere. At Arthur’s planned execution, the mage uses her magic to stage a diversion while Bedivere’s men rescue Arthur. Taken to Bedivere’s hideout, Arthur initially refuses to help them. The mage persuades Bedivere to take Arthur to a realm called the “Darklands,” where he’s given a vision of how Uther sacrificed himself to save Arthur and entomb the sword in stone. Arthur learns Vortigern was responsible for persuading Mordred to rebel against humanity, and he returns determined to destroy Vortigern.With his friends and Bedivere’s men, Arthur stages a series of ambushes against Vortigern, culminating in an assassination attempt in Londinium. The rebels sense a trap but attack anyway, fleeing to a fighters’ school run by Arthur’s mentor George, where they are overrun by the Blacklegs. Seeing the mage held at knifepoint, Arthur unleashes Excalibur’s potential, single-handedly killing all of the soldiers. The rebels are able to escape the city except for Arthur’s injured friend Back Lack, who is killed at Vortigern’s hand in front of his son Blue.Ashamed of his failures, Arthur tries to throw away the sword, but the Lady of the Lake returns it and shows him a vision of England’s future under Vortigern’s rule. Coming to terms with his responsibility, Arthur reunites with Bedivere. When they return to the rebel hideout, however, they discover all of their allies dead, Vortigern having found them and delivered an ultimatum: if Arthur does not surrender himself, the captured mage and Blue will die.Arthur surrenders himself, but as Vortigern is about to execute his nephew, a giant snake summoned by the mage attacks and devours Vortigern’s men. While Bedivere and the others lead an attack on the castle, a desperate Vortigern sacrifices his only daughter and is transformed into the demon knight, confronting Arthur in a separate dimension. Despite his fighting skill, Arthur is beaten, and he is about to submit when he witnesses a vision of his father, convincing him to accept the sword and his character as his own. Arthur violently slays Vortigern but blesses him as he dies. In the aftermath, Arthur dissolves Vortigern’s pact with the Vikings and begins building a Round Table where his knighted friends will meet. Blue and the prostitutes arrive with the crown of Uther, which Arthur accepts, holding the sword aloft.The true test of a fantastic movie is when you get immersed in it. When the show grabs your attention at the onset and keeps you interested the entire time. Your mind doesn’t wander about anything else but whats happening on the silver screen. And that is precisely what this movie does. Loved the beginning with the fantasy action. Immediately developed a dislike for the villain well played by Law. Charlie Hunnam had the presence and moxie to carry the lead role for the first time. Most characters were very well developed and the story line was tight. Really enjoyed the soundtrack too. Entertainment at its finest. Don’t let the critics on Rotten Tomatoes fool you. The critic score was 27%, but the audience gave it a 77 %. Sadly the critics only want to give a movie a great rating when there’s an oppressed group wronged, and this movie is not that.

 

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)

Adrian Paul and Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Mortal Kombat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (The Howling)
Peter DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
J.E. Freeman (Alien: Resurrection)
Tamsin Kelsey (The Commish)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Dustin Nguyen (Legend Is Alive)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost)
John Novak (War)
Victor A. Young (Nemesis Game)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Joan Jett (Light of Day)
Leslie Carlson (Videodrome)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Colleen Winton (Van Helsing)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Fifty Shades Freed)
Stephen Macht (Trancers 4)
Johannah Newmarch (When Calls The Heat)
John Tench (Watchmen)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Vanity (The Last Dragon)
Tim Reid (IT)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on A Plane)
J.G. Hertzler (Staragte SG.1)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (The Brother From Another Planet)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery
Martin Kemp (The Krays)
Nigel Terry (Excalibur)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Marion Cotillard (Inception)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Lockout)

Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)400-year-old Scottish Immortal Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) has spent the last twelve years living a quiet life with his mortal girlfriend, sculptor Tessa Noel (Alexandra Vandernoot). Unfortunately, when young punk Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsh) breaks into their antiques store, he stumbles upon another uninvited guest- Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), also an immortal Highlander. Connor insists Duncan return to The Gathering- an ongoing battle where immortals fight each other to the death by beheading their opponent to take their Quickening. Friendly immortals like the Parisian monk Darius (Werner Stocker) have no interest in the violence and remain on Holy Ground to avoid the evil, corrupt, insane, angry, and power hungry immortals Duncan must face. All this, however, is in addition to Duncan’s daily hiding of his secrets from pesky cops and nosey reporters like Randi MacFarland (Amanda Wyss).Adrian Paul and Soon-Tek Oh in Highlander (1992)I always find it tough to summarize the scenario that establishes the Highlander universe, even though it is a fairly simple fantasy once you get to know it. Longtime franchise producers Peter Davis and Bill Panzer and creative consultant David Abramowitz don’t have to waste much time in setting up The Series’ introductory mythology like most shows do thanks to its parent 1986 film, but that does not mean this First Season isn’t without its flaws. Highlander: The Series spends most of the 1992 debut here trying to adhere to the original film whilst also attempting to appeal to other compatriot shows of the time like Renegade. Sometimes, Duncan is an immortal who also just happens to get kidnapped, Tessa just happens to witness an immortal murder, Richie just happens to get caught up in some immortal romance or crime.Season 1 seems to meander between reopening its fantastical roots- which actually concluded at the end of the first film- and finding an audience with one off action plotlines and crazy guest star immortals. Toss in some ho-hum police investigations and one annoying journalist, and it feels like you have bits of every other nineties television program. It also seems like the filmmakers were light on material early on, for a slew of slow and dated musical montages about absolutely nothing also have not stood the test of time. Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)I’ve complained, yes- but the irony is, Highlander as a series and its Season 1 still work damn fine. So they had to iron out a few special effects and immortal explanations. Maybe there is an uneven mix of normal real world crime storylines and charming, even glorious, period piece flashback sequences. Yes, they have to mimic the first movie while trying to establish episodic material. Yet somehow, all this and more gets done in fun, entertaining, stylized television. A few of the guest immortals do seem a bit interchangeable and even hokey in their maniacal ways, but that’s part of the bemusement. The lovely counterbalance of the tragedies, consequences, and ill desires of living forever are well played along with the beauty and value of morality, artistry, and time for those who inevitably grow old and die. Highlander: The Series may have lured audiences in the door with promises of nineties cool and wicked swordfights, but its intelligent core of immortal drama, heart, and soul win out today.Adrian Paul and Vanity in Highlander (1992)Although Adrian Paul (Tracker, Relic Hunter) has some big sneakers to fill in following Christopher Lambert, he quickly makes Duncan MacLeod his own with the perfect mix of fearless fighter and moral convictions. Yes, part of his fighting skills, suave ponytail, and immortal sexual buffness is meant to be dreamy for the ladies. However, Mac’s kickass ruthlessness against those who do wrong-whether they be mortal or immortal- combined with his sensitive ways and 400 year old hang ups appeal to all. Paul wonderfully expresses the love, loss, humor, and intelligence as well as the anger, vengeance, and violence each episode as needed. There’s no doubt MacLeod is our hero- and yet he is usually the one handing out killing blows. It’s a complicated mix with plenty of fine drama- and Alexandra Vandernoot (The Five Obstructions) is the perfect compliment to Adrian Paul. Though she can seem kind of uppity and European pissy to start, once you come to know Tessa’s artistic heart and moral fulcrum you can’t help but enjoy her and Mac’s relationship. The two have wonderful chemistry, but then you throw in illicit immortal love with mortal women growing old and dying to that romantic design and it’s dynamite. Such juicy and angst still has plenty of relatable, powerful stuff that never fades, wow, almost 20 years on.Still of Adrian Paul and Amanda Wyss in Highlander and See No EvilStan Kirsh (Invincible) is in the precarious hot young thing role as Richie Ryan, but he also proves himself more likeable then annoying here in Season 1. Despite some of the stereotypically juvenile, young love, and crime storylines in which he finds himself, Richie’s fun place within Mac and Tessa’s lives does a lot of good. He is in a way, their kid- always needing to be bailed out or protected in the ways of the world or waxing philosophical from his humorous spot in the backseat. Even over the course of these 22 episodes, however, Richie also becomes a useful ally and sounding board for each of the leads when immortality or mortality gets in the way. Sadly, the ill-used Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), doesn’t fair so well. Her brief and needlessly stuck in the opening credits reporter Randi is absolutely unrealistic as a journalist and completely annoying in her attempted antagonizing and snooping. Perhaps more could have been done with the character in time, but thankfully, the role was dropped in favor of some  policemen and detectives. Wendell Wright’s (Benson) Sgt. Powell, Tim Reid’s (Sister, Sister) Bennett and Hugues Leforestier as Inspector LeBrun come and go too much in Season 1, but any one of them could have been fine continuing foil for MacLeod. You do have to wonder how the authorities haven’t discovered all these beheaded bodies!Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)In addition to the lovely guest appearance by Lambert as Connor “same clan, different vintage” MacLeod in ‘The Gathering’, Season 1 offers an array of sweet guest stars. Critical immortals such as Elizabeth Gracen’s (later of the spinoff Highlander: The Raven) Amanda and Fine Young Cannibals’ singer Roland Gift as Xavier St. Cloud appear in ‘The Lady and the Tiger’ and ‘For Tomorrow We Die’ respectively. We don’t get to see the late Werner Stocker’s Darius as much as I would have liked, but he and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn are also wonderful pieces in Highlander: The Series’ repertoire, comparing the potential of pacifism for immortals to their apparent zest for women. As much as I love Joan Jett, her appearance as the first female immortal we see in ‘Free Fall’ is one of the woefully dated examples this season. Several other guest villains and street thugs of the week do seem a little the same- especially the maniacal and crazy, if no less understandable, immortals. Again, it’s tough to not have an over the top bad guy when it is your hero befrickingheading someone per episode. A few of the French supporting players also suffer; so many seemed poorly dubbed that you don’t wonder if it would have been better to just have some French dialogue. All in all however, the guests add debut credibility this season whilst laying the ground work for the series to establish itself beyond the films: the plots and players in the Season 1 finale ‘The Hunters’ directly lead to the events in Season 2 and beyond.Adrian Paul and Christian van Acker in Highlander (1992)Although the actors do their part, the designs of Season 1 could have used some…tweaking. The Quickening effects are definitely touch and go to start. Honestly, the lightning shows generally coming at the end of each episode waver from looking extremely painful and capable of powering a village to limp, sputtering light bulbs and quasi orgasmic shuddering. Women seriously seem to get the short end of the stick regarding Quickenings, and the fashions of the time have not been kind. Oh, the unflattering gaudy shoulder pads, pleated pants, and high-waisted jeans! Richie fairs no better, with some woefully colorful New Edition and Color Me Badd cast-offs. At least most of the immortal men seem to have classic, swanky style- except some of Duncan’s sweaters, vests, and colorful blazers are a miss. However, any men who can carry off such a variety of period fashion earn a plus in my book. The Leather jackets, cozy turtlenecks, tuxedos, and fedoras here are as timeless as the kilts, cavalier coats, French uniforms, and kimonos.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)While the MacLeod and Noel Antiques store, loft, and workshop design look just as good as the period production, it also seems a little too high end and unrealistic today. I know he is immortal and she is a sculptor, but real people could not live in such a pricey and overly designed museum. By contrast, Season 1’s opening Seacouver location seems obvious and bland- again looking like it’s a random warehouse back lot used by every other show made at the time. Thankfully, MacLeod’s barge on the Seine is just a little bit cooler. These French locations add a touch of Old World European class to Highlander. Even if I can’t quite figure the logistics of the barge, (How can one just park his boat on the Seine? What kind of codes and regulations are there for a refurbished ship? Where in the heck does Richie sleep if there’s one bed?!) it’s still a neat and unique set. Yes, Highlander: The Series’ location splits and prominence for French casting is thanks to French financing and production, but it also gives Season 1 a chance to correct its early flaws- including adjusting the opening credits and spending more time in our immortals’ pasts. Subtle connections to the original film are all that’s needed for Season 1 to find its footing- and those motifs largely come from the perfect use of Queen’s soundtrack. You can’t not love the ‘Princes of the Universe’ theme. Be honest, sometimes you just tune into Highlander just to hear the song! The somber ballad ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ also makes a few appearances- however; it’s the nonchalant use of the titular question by unknowing mere mortals that adds extra zing and panache.Fans of the Highlander franchise surely already know and love these DVDs back to front, but 21st Century newcomers will be pleasantly surprised by the exhaustive amount of features for the Season 1 set. The interface is cumbersome, I grant; but the Watcher Chronicles’ menus, additional scenes, bloopers, commentary options, full script CDs, and behind the scenes features are almost obsessive in shear amount, variety, and content. Almost every episode contains some form of extras- and more is included as the season sets progress. I can even forgive the lack of subtitles here, because someone obviously took his time in making Highlander: The Series as complete as possible on DVD. New fans, however, should be forewarned, as there are often spoilers for the entire series within the features. In fact, all the extras from the Complete Series DVDs are probably best left in a marathon viewing all their own. Adrian Paul and Martin Kemp in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series is best when it is about the trials of immortality- not the contemporary messes into which an immortal could get himself. Season 1 falters some when it tries for the latter, but there’s plenty of immortal angst and juicy action established here to enjoy. Longtime fans can delight anytime, and audiences looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and romance can certainly find it here. Some scenes and storylines might be too saucy or complicated for younger tween viewers, but a show that matures in its mythos and quality along with its audience while also staying young forever is tough to find. Yes, just think, Highlander: The Series only gets better from here. Start anew or travel back with Season 1 today.

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)

CAST

Johnny Depp (From Hell)
Christina Ricci (Monster)
Miranda Richardson (The Hours)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Richard Griffiths (Venus)
Ian McDiarmid (Star wars)
Michael Gough (Batman)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Lisa Marie (Ed Wood)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Peter Guinness (Alien 3)
Martin Landau (9)
Sean Cronin (London Hood)

In 1799, New York City police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is facing imprisonment for going against traditional methods and favoring forensic investigation techniques, such as autopsies, considered unorthodox and unimportant at the time. Ichabod submits to deployment with his bag of tools to the Westchester County hamlet of Sleepy Hollow, New York, which has been plagued by a series of brutal slayings in which the victims have been found decapitated: Peter Van Garrett (Martin Landau), a wealthy farmer and landowner; his son Dirk; and the widow Emily Winship. Arriving in Sleepy Hollow, Crane is informed by the town’s elders that the killer is not of flesh and blood, but rather an undead headless Hessian mercenary from the American Revolutionary War who rides at night on a massive black steed in search of his missing head.

Crane begins his investigation, remaining highly skeptical about the supernatural elements in the case until he actually encounters the Headless Horseman himself, who kills the town magistrate, Samuel Phillipse (Richard Griffiths), on sight. Boarding in a room at the home of the town’s richest family and the Van Garretts’ next of kin, the Van Tassels, Crane develops an attraction to their daughter Katrina (Christina Ricci), while he is plagued by nightmares of his mother’s horrific torture when he was a child. This attraction is deeply resented by Brom van Brunt (Casper Van Dien), a suitor to Katrina, who scares Crane in a prank by posing as the Headless Horseman. Riding into the Western Woods with the orphaned Young Masbath, son of the Horseman’s fifth victim Johnathan Masbath(before Magistrate Phillipse), Crane and Young Masbath come across the cave dwelling of a reclusive sorceress. She reveals the location of the gnarled Tree of the Dead, which marks the Horseman’s grave, as well as his portal into the natural world from the supernatural.
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Crane discovers that the ground is freshly disturbed and, digging through, discovers the Horseman’s skeleton and that the skull is missing. He realizes that whoever dug up and stole the skull is the person controlling the Horseman. Just then, the Horseman’s ghost bursts out of the tree and gallops towards Sleepy Hollow. Crane attempts to follow but winds up lost. The Killian family are taken by the Horseman and Brom is killed — cut in half — when trying to stop the Horseman.

Crane starts to believe that a conspiracy links all the deaths together, so he goes to the town notary James Hardenbrook (Michael Gough) to look into Van Garrett’s Last Will. Hardenbrook confesses Van Garrett had made a new will just before he died, leaving all his possessions to his new bride, Emily Winship, who Crane had learned from the late Magistrate Phillipse was pregnant at the time of her death (and thought that initially the father of the child might have killed Emily to keep the secret hidden). Crane deduces that all who knew about the new will were the victims of Horseman and that Katrina’s father Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon), who would have inherited the fortune, is the person holding the skull. Katrina, finding out that Crane suspects her father, burns the evidence that Crane has accumulated and tells him that she doesn’t love him anymore.
In fear of the Horseman, Hardenbrook hangs himself and a town council is held in the town church. The Horseman seemingly kills Katrina’s stepmother, Lady Van Tassel, and heads off to the church to get Baltus, with the townspeople filing in just as the he arrives. With the men firing muskets as he circles the church, Crane realizes the Horseman can’t enter the church grounds due to it being consecrated and therefore holy. A massive fight breaks out in the church when Dr. Thomas Lancaster (Ian McDiarmid) suggests confessing for forgiveness, and is killed by Reverend Steenwyck (Jeffrey Jones), who is in turn shot by a frightened Baltus. The chaos ends only when the Horseman harpoons Baltus through a church window using a pointed church fence post attached to a rope, dragging him out and acquiring his head. The next day, Crane believes Katrina to be one who controls the Headless Horsemen and left while she was still unconscious.
As Crane is leaving Sleepy Hollow, he becomes suspicious when the hand of the corpse of Lady Van Tassel has a wound which shows signs of having been caused post-mortem. His suspicions are confirmed to be right when the real Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson) emerges, alive, from the dark and shocks her step-daughter Katrina into a faint. Katrina awakens and eventually uncovers a plot revolving around revenge on the Van Garretts and land rights with the Horseman controlled by Lady Van Tassel, who sends the supernatural killer after Katrina now to solidify her hold on what she considers her property, a piece of land unjustly claimed by Baltus. She explains that the body believed to be her corpse actually belonged to the family’s servant, Sarah, whom she had murdered. She also reveals that she had just murdered the mysterious witch in the Western Woods, her own sister, for her role in helping Crane and Young Masbath.

Following a fight in the local windmill and a stagecoach chase through the woods, Crane eventually thwarts Lady Van Tassel by throwing the skull to the Horseman, breaking the curse. The Horseman, no longer under Lady Van Tassel’s control, simultaneously kisses and bites her, and he hoists her up on his horse, then rides to Hell taking her with him, fulfilling her end of the deal with the Devil. With the Headless Horseman menace eradicated, Crane returns home to New York with Katrina and Young Masbath, just in time for the new century.A triumph of design; sets that are spooky down to the last detail, and a cast of well-written characters to populate this creepy little town. There’s a few little things about “Sleepy Hollow” that didn’t work, but for the most part, I found this to be a great film