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Publicity Stills of "Wicker Man"
(Courtesy from Archer Entertainment)

Genre: Horror/Supernatural Thriller
Director: Neil LaBute
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Leelee Sobieski, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Frances Conroy
Appearances by: Christa Campbell, Aaron Eckhart
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: Archer Entertainment APPL & Shaw
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.archerentasia.com/thewickerman

Release Date: 4 January 2007

Synopsis :

Academy Award®-winning actor Nicolas Cage stars in The Wicker Man, a re-imagining of the now iconic 70’s cult classic. Written and directed by Neil LaBute, The Wicker Man also stars Academy Award®-winner Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Parker and Frances Conroy.

When motorcycle-cop Edward Malus (NICOLAS CAGE) receives a letter from a former lover (KATE BEAHAN), begging him to find her missing daughter, he sets off to help. He flies to Summersisle, a remote island off the Washington coast, where he discovers a way of life that time has forgotten.

A seemingly idyllic, pastoral community, nothing on Summersisle is what it appears to be. The people on this mysterious island are wary of strangers and no one will acknowledge the girl's disappearance. As Edward steps up his search and clashes with the islanders, he discovers the terrifying truth about their ancient belief system.

Movie Review:

Of all the 70s thrillers and cult favourites, Anthony Shaffer's 1973 religiously themed “The Wicker Man” was not one built for remakes. Its message is as potent as it was then as it is now. So it goes without saying that 2006’s “The Wicker Man” is not one of director Neil LaBute’s proudest achievements. It is so curiously bad that its entire creative concept boggles the mind. Stripped of all that made the original one of the most thought-provoking thrillers of its time (or any other decade for that matter), LaBute conceives an Americanised remake with nothing to offer aside from a couple of changed scenes, a new story arc and the removal of the original’s most creepily erotic dance routine.

And almost as insulting to the genre as it is to the millions of Pagan practitioners the world over, LaBute has a rather obtuse fascination and an appalling grasp on the concept of feminism that one has to wonder if frantic misogyny was his sole inspiration in creating women of such hatred and dimness. Relocating the original’s Scottish isles to a female dominated commune in an island off Washington State, the lush locale finds itself hiding more flaws than scenery should ever do. This scenery also provides fodder for its cast. Yes, the one with 2 Oscar winners and 2 Emmy nominees. The overacting and ludicrously performed reactions are so over the top that a roundhouse kick to the face eventually seemed like an adequate response.

A fatal misstep was to execute the material so sullenly and gravely, yet not affording it the respect that it should have had to build the isolated tension and pervading fear of Nicholas Cage’s Edward Malus, a highway patrolman with recurring nightmares of an accident he failed to prevent. These nightmares parallels his discovery of a secluded and violently insular Pagan commune where he investigates the disappearance of a little girl at the request of her mother, his ex-girlfriend. He soon discovers that instead of the original’s Christopher Lee (a role that the actor claimed was his finest) ruling the roost, Ellen Burstyn is in charge of the island’s societal hens.

As if directly lifted from Shaffer's own pages, Edward goes around the commune and talks to, threatens and demands information that he knows is being collectively hidden. While basically trapping him on an island miles away from modern civilisation, LaBute fails terribly in eliciting any suspense or sense of dread in the increasing hostile and claustrophobic environment. Cage’s characterisation of the policeman is gruff and often resembles a bumbling detective who try as he might, never receives respect or fear from anyone, including us.

While the original discussed the possible futility of Christianity and organised religion, and the depths men will go in order to prove and defend their spirituality to the hilt, the remake sidesteps these unsettling ideas either out of incompetence or a cowardly pursuit of political correctness. Instead it focuses on a less explosive, but maladroit handling of gender politics that exposes more idiocy than educated theorising.

Movie Rating:

(One of the worst and most abortive remakes of recent times)

Review by Justin Deimen

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