on May 7, 2007
I don't write reviews very often because while I'm a movie buff, I don't usually take the time to pontificate. But having seen the 2006 version of Wicker Man on DVD, I feel the need to make a few observations.
First, on the positive side: certainly the production values of the new version are far superior to the original. It is an extremely well-crafted motion picture. The exterior shots were especially beautiful and made me want to revisit British Columbia.
At the end of the film, Ellen Burstyn's makeup and costume were a lot more convincing than Christopher Lee's getup in the original version! Even back when I first saw it in the theatre, Lee just didn't quite seem believable.
Having said this, I have serious problems with the remake. First, one of the things that made the original such an interesting film was the use of Celtic folk music. (The film takes place on Summerville Isle off the coast of Britain.) While the lyrics certainly qualify as bawdy, they are entirely appropriate to the setting of the story. The total absence of this and the orchestral score in the current version diminished both the intensity and the message of the film.
The real problem however is found in the dialog where Sister Summersisle tells Edward Malus he is to be a martyr. The dictionary describes a martyr as a person who is killed because of his or her religious or other beliefs. But as far as we know, Malus doesn't really have any religious convictions. He may be a sacrifice, but he's no martyr.
This brings us to the thrust of the original picture. The message was the battle between British forms of Christianity and Paganism. Both are done a serious disservice by the current version. In the original version, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is a passionately devoted conservative Christian. Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) is an equally committed pagan.
As in the current version, the police officer is tricked into coming to the island for the purpose of being sacrificed because the crops have failed. He is chosen because of his very commitment to his faith and the fact that, due to this commitment, he remains a virgin. (And yes, I know, no matter how good an actor Cage is, nobody would believe he has remained sexually pure.) So Howie as a believer represents the perfect fool for these pagans and therefore the perfect sacrifice and martyr. Sergeant Howie, unlike Malus, actually dies for a reason. Malus just dies. And while Malus has no answers for Sister Summersisle, Howie certainly has them for Lord Summerisle. As Howie dies for his faith, he warns Summerisle that the next time the crop fails, it will be Lord Summerisle himself burning inside the Wicker Man.
The 1973 version ends with a man of honor dying for his faith and the warning that it is only a matter of time before the meaninglessness of the sacrifice will become apparent. In the `06 revised version's ending, we are left with a dead man and nothing more.
If you have only seen the current version of Wicker Man, I strongly suggest you view the original. If you ignore the picture's dated aspects, you will find a film with great depth which presents a highly compelling and far more accurate picture of people of faith, be they Christian or pagan.
on October 20, 2006
Oh this film is so very, very bad--totally delicious! You've read the plot line in previous reviews, so my review is more about the essence of the movie. I saw this in a packed cinema--never has one movie given a group of people such unexpected surges of pleasurable hilarity. Everything was fine until Nicolas/Edward almost drowns and then snaps out of his trance to find a dead girl on his lap--the audience couldn't control itself from this point on--the guy in front of me was laughing so hard I thought he'd pass out. I mean, up until now, we only had Exorcist II and Plan 9 From Outer Space to enjoy bad movie-wise--but Wicker Man 2006--thank you Nicolas! Thank you Neil LaBute! The "Bike Scene" the "Rowan and Edward the Bear in the Woods Scene" the "Schoolroom Scene" the "Killing Me Won't Bring Back Your God**** Honey Scene" are all moments to treasure--I can't remember when I've seen such an excellent very bad movie--it makes stuff like Aeon Flux looks like Fellini...my dreams would come true if "Wicker Man II--the Sequel" with Nicolas Cage was announced! Nicolas Cage is at his very best--see him stare...see him punch/slap/kick many of the movie's actresses..see him wear a bear suit...see him come up from underwater with lots of hair dye running down his neck...see him shout out fabulous lines like "Step away from the bike!!!" and "Owww!!! My legs!!!" See him rant and rave and carry on like a maniac. Connoisseurs of really bad movies must see this--you'll totally love it!
The star of the original "Wicker Man," Christopher Lee, said it best: "What do I think of it? Nothing. There's nothing to say."
And indeed there is little to say about this flaccid, nonsensical remake of the classic cult horror movie. Little that's positive, anyway -- the movie stumbles around blindly, trying to give itself atmosphere with hokey tricks and silly-looking cinematography. Put simply, "The Wicker Man" is a big, weird mess.
Cop Edward Malus (Nicholas Cage) is recuperating from a traumatic incident, which means he's not on top form when his ex-fiance Willow (Kate Beahan) gets in touch with him. Her child Rowan has vanished, and she wants Malus' help. And so he travels to a remote northern island, ruled by the matriarch Sister Summerisle (Ellen Burstyn).
It seems that the people there are some kind of bizarre neopagan tribe, and the women all hate Malus. The few men there are basically second-class citizens. And as Malus comes closer to finding the little girl who may be his daughter, he discovers a horrifying secret -- which is waiting for him.
Remaking anything is a tricky business, and "The Wicker Man" takes the worst possible approach -- it tries to bluster through. It has a lot to bluster about, because there's no suspense, no atmosphere, and no horror -- only a lame and unsuspenseful mystery, and a bad acid-trip finale, with lots of people in animal costumes.
To make matters worse worse, it feels like it was scripted by several different people who never bothered to consult each other. Allusions -- like Malus' tape -- are dropped. The emotional appeal is trite. The metaphors and symbolism are appallingly blatant, until you feel that Cage's character must be the biggest idiot on the Pacific coast if he hasn't clued in yet.
Director Neil LaBute obviously has no idea how to bring this celluloid Frankenstein's monster to life. So he dresses Cage in a furry costume and saddles the incoherent script with weird bee analogies and absurd dialogue ("Killing me won't bring back your g*dd*mn honey!"), apparently hoping that it will overcome the flimsy plot.
Even worse, sometimes it gets unintentionally campy or funny, when it's actually being deadly serious. The most unintentionally funny moment of the movie comes when Burstyn dramatically says, "Prepare the drone!" near the climax. You'll be rolling off your seat.
Cage himself comes across as confused and over-the-top ("How'd it get burnt?" repeated over and over), and it's hard to care whether his character lives or dies. Burstyn does as well as can be expected, given that her matriarch is a pale shadow of Christopher Lee, and a pretty silly one at that. The other actors just sleepwalk through.
Remakes are bad enough, but remakes of cult classics are simply unforgivable. It's not hard to see why this disjointed dud was a box-office disaster.
(Merry Christmas to all!)
In cynical fashion, the major studios churn out needless remakes aimed at young moviegoers who lack imagination to track down the originals. The latest casualty is "The Wicker Man" - writer-director Neil LaBute's desecration of the 1973 British horror favorite. Like most contemporary remakes, it has been justly ignored. Hollywood's creative bankruptcy never ceases to astonish me.
Nicholas Cage stars as Edward Malus, a California police officer who goes on a leave of absence after witnessing a tragedy on the job. Taking pills to soothe the effects of his post-traumatic stress disorder, Edward is in a weak place when he receives a letter from his ex-fiance, Willow, requesting his assistance in finding her missing child. She bids him come to Summerisle, a small island off the coast of Puget Sound, and help her find her daughter, Rowan.
When Edward first arrives it's clear that Summerisle isn't like other places. Quite frankly, it's the land that time forgot. The women dress like pioneers and the men--well... there don't appear to be many men around. When Edward starts investigating Rowan's disappearance, he hears a different story depending on who he speaks to. Rowan is either: not even Willow's daughter, nonexistent, dead, or soon to die. Refusing to give up, Edward delves deeper into this strange community shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and deception.
The Wicker Man is not for those who can't tolerate trash, as is pretty obvious from the other reviews. I, however, revel in how far a movie can go in its efforts to be different. And different is putting it mildly where The Wicker Man is concerned. Also, for those who can't stand needless violence, at least three women were punched in the face over the course of this movie. Furthermore, there is a scene toward the end when everyone in the village is dressed in animal costumes that made me think I might have stumbled upon an acid trip gone wrong. You've been warned.
It's difficult to put into words how spectacularly bad this film is. I honestly think you should see for yourself. Not for full price, mind you, but at a matinee or second-run theater. It's worth it for the experience of wondering if you could actually be watching something so completely out of touch with reality.
on September 12, 2006
Well, I had to laugh hysterically at that part.
Nicholas Cage plays Edward, a cop who stops a car on the highway, then sees it smashed and catch on fire. However, the bodies of the woman and small girl inside the car are inexplicably never found. Weird.
Then he gets a letter with fantastic calligraphy from his former fiancee, Willow (did he check out the handwriting first? - no) asking for his help on Summersisle to find her missing daughter, who every one else there says is not missing. Instead of saying forget it, I'm not going anywhere, Edward jumps to it. A co-worker asks him where Summersisle is, and Edward replies that it is in the Northeast. He got a little mixed up there as it's an isle off Washington state (which is in the NW).
He's greeted with disdain in Summersisle, which is packed with women (mostly pregnant), small girls, and a few untalkative men. Willow, a very weird-faced, collagen-injected woman is glad to see him, but has a lot of trouble expressing herself. She mostly says, "Ummm" and stutters a lot. This frustrates Edward almost as much as it annoys the audience. He hollers at her to spit it out, but this just makes her stutter more.
Poor Edward is so wrapped up in "doing the right thing" and redeeming himself for the death of the girl in the car, that he can't see what's in front of his face. He thinks he's smarter than the rest of these bee-keepers (last year was a bad year for honey) and shows his police badge around, which doesn't impress anybody. He searches for the little girl in some pretty weird places - like underwater - but has no luck despite thinking he actually sees her there.
This guy's got problems he needs to sort out. But he didn't give himself a chance.
Slight Spoiler - It's unbelievable that a bunch of smart women would go to so much trouble just for some honey - which they had no way of selling once they offed the pilot, and his plane was out there for all to see. Plus they have no telephones to call a new one - and no way to send out more calligriphied letters.
on May 19, 2010
i bought this movie for like 8$ which isnt bad for the bluray.
yes, i read and knew all about this 'terrible' movie. when one cant find a REAL trailer to a movie on youtube (instead only parodies exist), that tells you something.
luckily i love Nick Cage and i enjoy a good laugh, especially at the expense of someone, so this was a perfect purchase.
what can i say? the movie is awesome and terrible at the same time. first of all, i was genuinely intrigued about the story and where it was going, and the ending made me a bit sad (i hate watching Nick go!). however, none of that means that it isnt poorly written or absolutely hilarious to watch.
the writing is bad. the movie is just a mess all together. Nick does his best acting out what is essentially a fully maniacal drug addict running around tripping balls being sarcastic and making snide remarks to everyone he meets. and thats just the first half of the movie. the best is the 2nd part, at one point you see him jump under water to rescue what he sees as a dying/drowned little girl, then, POOF he wakes up on the pier... the camera pans down and you see the same dead drenched girl on his lap!!! and then... POOF! he wakes up again. thats right folks, a double 'dream'! thats just bad film making. it was so funny and bad that Nick Cage himself said "GODDAMNIT!" or something along those lines (im not kidding)
--and this is where i think Nick Cage refused to follow the script and just went around the set trying to be as crazy as possible--
after that it all gets even better. Cage beats the crap out of 3 women (one got a roundhouse Norris style!), dresses up as a bear, yells nonsense at his woman, just generally yells at everyone, steals a bicycle, picks on little children, curses randomly at children and other bystanders, has more acid trips, cries and does some more yelling.
yes. its awesome.
but you know what? after all of that, i still found the story itself disturbing and felt real bad for the character. to me? i say its a good film for all the reasons mentioned here. definitely a guilty pleasure.
It's that bad.
I've always been enamored of the original version. Although it has flaws, it has always been among my favorite films.
This version misses virtually every important point behind the original, and is nothing more than a sloppy, stupid, and ultimately incoherent mess.
I really don't want to waste a single second more on this review. See the original. Please.
on December 20, 2006
Contains spoilers, but who cares.
Pure rubbish! Suspending disbelief is one thing, suspending common sense is another.
1-No police officer on the face of the Earth would be as clueless and gullible as the protagonist. They would know that they are being played, and they would know that attacking superior numbers with a poor attitude, bad manners, and a badge from California in Washington, is a no win situation.
2-A whole community of women who practice medicine, grow their own food, have pagan rites, and mute "slave men" and rampant inbreeding going unnoticed by the federal government or some sort of watchdog group? Not likely.
3-The woman that ditched you 3 years ago sends a letter out of the blue and asks you to get her missing child back, and you hop on the nearest jet OUTSIDE of your legal jurisdiction and don't bother alerting the local or federal authorities for assistance? Hardly!
4-I am not a misogynist when I say this. A community of women in modern America being loyal to one woman, and all are willing to commit murder AND engage in ritual human sacrifice? I highly doubt that. Gossip and jealousy of station would put the proverbial kibosh on that one in a matter of moments. Nobody can keep their gums from flapping in an office, let alone a community. Same thing would happen if it was a bunch of men and a few women.
In closing, I would like to point out the fact that there is no development of any of the players in the film. They are 2 dimensional cardboard cut-outs with lines from a poorly written, and very obvious (as in unsurprising) script. The plot is so simple that a small child could figure it out. The long and short of it is that you are watching Nicolas Cage being led like a lamb to the Kabob shop for 99.9% of the film, and when you see the end result, you are angry with the film for insulting your intelligence, and angry with yourself for allowing it to. I am still asking myself WHY!? After 24 hours of distance between myself and this smoldering pile of bee dung.
on December 24, 2006
STUPID - EMBARRASSING - RIDICULOUS - LAUGHABLE AND FRUSTRATING. Just a few words to discribe this joke of a movie. Poor Mr. Cage! This is a career killer! At the end we both looked at each other with jaws agape and started laughing. "you're kidding, right?" STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS STINKING PILE OF POO!!!