Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Wicker Man (2006)

Director: Neil LaBute

Writers: Neil LaBute, Anthony Shaffer

Composer: Angelo Badalamenti

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Frances Conroy, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski, Diane Delano, Michael Wiseman, Erika-Shaye Gair, Christa Campbell, Emily Holmes

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Some Sacrifices Must Be Made

Plot: A sheriff investigating the disappearance of a young girl from a small island discovers there's a larger mystery to solve among the island's secretive, neo-pagan community.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? Hells, no.


Everything that was special and wonderful about the original THE WICKER MAN (1973) is missing from this no-one-asked-for-it remake. That isn't to say it's utterly awful.  It isn't.  I really like the location and community used in the film.  I would LOVE to live there but not within the society as seen in the film.  That's too harsh...and religious.  That's about where the positive begins and ends. 

Just for a moment, I'll forget that the original film exists and try to look at this as its own thing.  It's still not good.  Many of the line readings are awkward making me wonder what the alternates left out of the picture sounded like.  There's not much mystery and it's poorly hidden at that.  It also includes a fair amount of little action-y bits.  Nicolas Cage does a decent job but he has his moments where he goes into 'batshit Cage country'.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Between the dialogue, bland line readings and performances, the direction of this film is muddled and questionably weak. It shouldn't have been that way. 

"Step away from the bike!"

Now let's put the original film back on the table.  This remake doesn't have any folk tunes.  I'm not saying it has to because the original did but this picture could have been helped by at least one.  There's a scene where everyone is dancing in their animal costume as the frolic through the woods to a ceremony.  A situation like that screams for a song performed by the participants, especially in a Pagan society such as this.  The original film's conflict was between ideologies.  Sgt. Howie's religion clashed with the island inhabitant's religion.  The remake does a poor job of showing this since they altered the requirements for sacrifice from the original.  I've got more to say but I need to wrap this up.  Finally, there are the performances from the leads.  Woodward's performance in the original is leagues better than Cage's.  When the big surprise is discovered in the '73 film, Woodward's performance is hauntingly real.  Cage's?  Well...   OK, one more thing.  In the original, to get permission from Lord Summerisle to exhume a body, Sgt. Howie asks him at the outset of their introduction to each other.  Lord Summerisle gives it to him early on but they continue their conversation in a lengthy and fun exchange.  At the end of it Howie asks for permission again to which Lord Summerisle ends the scene, cleverly and playfully saying, "I was under the impression I had already given it to you."  In the remake Sister Summerisle (the equivalent title to the '73 picture) says the line but it doesn't end the conversation.  She speaks almost under her breath and continues speaking, effectively sweeping that great line under the run and lessening the potency of not only the line but of the scene.  That about sums up how this film compares to the '73 original.

No comments:

Post a Comment