The Wicker Man
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Wicker Man, The (BD) (Unrated)
Acclaimed filmmaker Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men") directs Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage ("National Treasure," "Matchstick Men") in this spine-tingling remake of the 1970s British cult classic horror film. Cage plays a police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote island off the coast of Washington. His hopes of unraveling the mystery of the girls unsettling disappearance become increasingly uncertain however, when he unearths disturbing evidence of pagan rituals being performed in the small, cult-like community. With the help of a frightened local (Golden Globe-nominee Leelee Sobieski -- "Uprising," "Eyes Wide Shut"), he must confront the island's horrific secret, and its other-worldly leader (Academy Award and Golden Globe-winner, Ellen Burstyn -- "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," "Requiem for a Dream"). Also starring Golden Globe-winner Frances Conroy (TV's "Six Feet Under," "The Aviator") and Molly Parker (TV's "Deadwood").]]>
Nicolas Cage stars in The Wicker Man as a traumatized police officer investigating a lost girl on a mysterious, mist-shrouded island of imperious women and dimwitted men. Summoned by his ex-fiancee (Kate Beahan, Flightplan, who seems to have borrowed her lips from Angelina Jolie), Edward Malus (Cage, Adaptation.) blusters his way into a closed religious community by flashing his out-of-state badge around and insulting everyone he meets. To describe The Wicker Man any further would deprive viewers of enjoying the staggering ineptness of this absurd remake of the fairly creepy 1973 original. Despite a talented cast (including Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream, Molly Parker, Deadwood, and Leelee Sobieski, Joy Ride), the performances are uniformly awful, with Cage leading the pack; his overwrought cries of "How'd it get burned?!?" will provoke barks of laughter. Arbitrary wierdness abounds--ranging from animal masks to a body-stocking of bees--in a flailing effort to distract the audience from the narrative running madly off the rails. Maybe writer/director Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things) aspired to create a fever dream of male fears about women, but the result is a deformed hybrid of Invasion of the Bee Girls and The Village. A future camp classic. --Bret Fetzer
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Easy to compare to the original film...
The creepy atmosphere... gone.
The authentic, and authentic sounding folk music... gone.
Good acting... gone.
The typically British sense of the bizarre... gone.
A bit of sly humor sprinkled here and there... gone.
Intelligent screenplay... gone.
Masterful direction... gone.
CHRISTOPHER LEE!!!!... gone.
The weird, freaky eroticism... gone.
This flick just sucks. Everything that made the original such a compelling film is... gone.
However, the locations are beautiful... an extra 1/2 star, and some of the scenes are so hilariously awful that another 1/2 star is warranted.
2 quick examples...
Nick pulling a Beretta on a cycling Molly Parker and snarling "Step away from the BIKE!!"
Nick running through the woods (carrying a little girl) in a headless bear suit! All that was needed was a bubble helmet, and you would have had a reincarnation of "Ro-Man".
Finally while this film ends the same way as the original did, the effect is completely lost. In the 1973 version, the ending was shocking, chilling and unforgettable. In this remake, you don't really care.
The original police officer was clearly a devote Christian, praying instead of answering Willow's call to sleep with her. The detective in the remake didn't have this. While in the first movie it was clear that the islanders needed someone who was pure (a virgin), someone who's beliefs were radically different and didn't have a connection to the island. In the remake, this has totally disappeared, and the replacement back story (of Willow and Edward) didn't really cut it. Without this dichotomy, the film falls flat...the women have no real reason to choose Edward, other than the fact that he had fathered one of the children...any man on the island could have been the sacrifice. Why choose him? What made him so very special that he, and only he, could fulfill the part of the sacrifice?
Secondly, the filmmaker of the remake made his pagans very joyless. There wasn't the fun, the sensuality or the joy that the original's islanders had. In the original, people are having sex in the fields, Willow tries to seduce the detective and the bar patrons encourage this with lusty folk songs. The director of the remake took all the fun and joy out of the film, making it seem like a prison, run by women. There was no life, no fun, no May pole. It was almost like being in a convent...there wasn't the same sense of joy in life that the original had.
If the director of the remake had really wanted to catch the spirit of the original, he needed to reproduce what made the original so successful (and I'm not talking about Christoher Lee's terrible haircut!) He needed to recreate the joy and sensuality of Summerisle. Instead he made a very Christian film, showing a society run by women to be a horrible, joyless place. This remake is a completely joyless, almost anti-women movie.
I agree with most people who have seen the original and the remake...do yourself a favor and see the original. You'll enjoy it a lot more.