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The Wicker Man (DVD)

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

Not since John Frankenheimer’s dreadful redo of B-classic “The Island of Dr Moreau”, has a filmmaker – and studio, for that matter – got it so wrong. Neil LaBlute’s brain must have been on holidays the day he was suckered into helming this beast, because he’s usually the top of the class when it comes to films. This thing makes him long dafter than an inbred whore with a penchant for wedging paddle pop sticks in her nostrils. Yep, that stupid.


Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan

We’re informed at the start of “The Wicker Man” that Nicolas Cage’s character is listening to some self-help tapes called ‘Everything is alright’. We’re never informed why, but I think it’s obvious: Cage knows he’s on a career gamble here. After all, he’s seemingly signed up for something whilst hopped up on coke one night, and awoken to discover his scrawly signature handcocked across a contract for a script he didn’t remember reading.

No, everything is not alright Nic. Don’t ya know remakes shouldn’t be done unless a) they can improve on the original b) advances in technology or story-telling techniques offer reasoning for a rehash.

Not since John Frankenheimer’s dreadful redo of B-classic “The Island of Dr Moreau”, has a filmmaker – and studio, for that matter – got it so wrong. Neil LaBlute’s brain must have been on holidays the day he was suckered into helming this beast, because he’s usually the top of the class when it comes to films. This thing makes him long dafter than an inbred whore with a penchant for wedging paddle pop sticks in her nostrils. Yep, that stupid.

Granted, original “Wicker Man” was a mixed bag, anyway. It was never intended to be an epic movie, and quite frankly, wasn’t. If anything, it was a reasonably entertaining guilty pleasure that developed cult status because, well, at the time it was unlike anything that had been done before – and did have something to say. In 2006, “The Wicker Man” is tardy for its time. The storyline seems musty and worn-out, the messages anachronistic and the big twist? Well, let’s just say M.Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” now has an unofficial sequel.

A remake of the Edward Woodward/Christopher Lee creepfest of the 70s, “Wicker” fixes on a Californian motorcycle cop (Cage), torturing himself over not being able to save a woman and her child from a fiery car wreck, who is summoned to the mysterious island of Summerisle to help locate a missing girl. Its there, at the cut-off isle, that our hero discovers a very strange close-knit, secretive community with a clear dislike for outsiders.

This has got to be one of the most insipid films in years, and definitely one of the biggest financial blunders in recent studio history. But even with the absurd storyline, LaBlute could’ve ramped up the suspense a little more or injected just a smidge more credibility to proceedings and it may have played better – resulting in a guilty pleasure. The original, for instance, was fun because it meshed genres and played with the audience – this one takes itself way too seriously. It’s a pity LaBlute didn’t put more into it, because everyone else involved in the film (from actor Cage to music-man Angelo Badalamenti) seem to be at least trying.

DVD extras include a reasonably informative (though not as honest as it could’ve been) commentary from writer/director Neil LaBute, actresses Leelee Sobieski and Kate Beahan, editor Joel Plotch, and costume designer Lynette Meyer. In addition, the advertised ‘alternate ending’ is also tacked onto the film – it doesn’t improve the film any more, just ramps up the violence factor a tad.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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