The Wicker Man (2006)

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by Ash J. Williams, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Ash J. Williams

    Ash J. Williams New Member

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    Anthony Schaffer wrote the film, "The Wicker Man," in 1973. Directed by Robin Hardy, it struck a chord in culture for its strong script and powerful tone, and it has since been a cult favorite of multiple generations. I strongly urge you to see this masterpiece, and not have it sullied by what you are about to read.

    Neil LaBute directed the film, "The Wicker Man," in 2006. From the very get-go, things start to go downhill. At a rest stop, Nicholas Cage's character, Edward, is looking over a rack of self-help audio tapes. Titles like, "Conquering fear," are abound on the rack. He picks one up, entitled, "EVERYTHING IS OKAY." The bold, stark letters epitomize this film, in that they show the complete lack of subtlety in LaBute's 0script. The reason the original was so effective was that nothing was overdone; everything was subtle, creepy and anxious. In LaBute's script, however, everything is right out there in plain sight. Characters express plot points and dialogue with such depth and distinction, that any chance of intrigue is lost entirely. Then they repeat themselves. The audio tape in the opening merely acts as the
    most in-your-face foreshadowing ever to be filmed. It shows a complete lack of trust for the viewer, and as is if LaBute thought his audience was so diluted from years of formulaic ironic foreshadowing that they would appreciate this. "Oh, I get it, because everything's NOT okay! Wow, that's brilliant."

    Moving on.

    An ineffective opening car wreck (cause who's tired of OUT OF NOWHERE cars as an opening scare?), is only the beginning of this film's ID card - jump scares. Every single scare in the film is something breaking or falling or jumping or screaming accompanied by a JOLT. None of these are particularly effective, and no effort is put into making an actually foreboding, escalating sense of genuine dread. Another failed attribute.

    A little later on, Edward receives a letter from Willow, his ex-fiancée (From when they were "Very young" - more on this later). She tells him to come to Summersisle (a changed name from the original's locale) to find her missing daughter; the girl who was in the destroyed car in the opening scene. He goes off the coast of Washington to Summersisle, and this is where our tale of terror truly begins.

    The first scene on Summersisle once again shows the film's failure to attain the subtlety of the original film - a burlap sack drips blood. in a film with the title, "The Wicker Man," seeing gore so early (or, rather, at all) merely is sad, as it demonstrates its lust for shock value and acceptance in today's world of the extreme. Another cheap scare here.

    We meet the barmaiden, Sister Beech. A truly terrible performance by actress Diane Dellano, who reads lines with such forced hatred that to hear her speak is damaging to one's sanity. Lines like, "Yes, let there be the ceremony of death and rebirth," only add to the film's over-reliance on overplaying it. Next, we meet Willow, Ed's lost romance. They talk, and not much is accomplished in the scene. We'll have to wait for their next encounter to continue the curious plot line of their lost love.

    We meet Sister Honey. She's cute. She's nobody.

    A backtrack to the 1973 film; One of the best-played scenes was that in the school house, where we discover that Rowan "Exists." It's casually disturbing, and the actress playing the teacher works perfectly; sweet, but not too sweet. All the acting in the scene is wonderful. In the 2006 version, the scene falls flat on its face in every conceivable manner. The script is repugnant, the scare is pointless and cheap, the mention of "Phallic symbol" is treated as if it were nothing, and the teacher, Sister Rose, is played by Molly Parker as the worst performance in the film. She's giddy, overly sinister and just plain awful. In a film of uniformly sub-par performances, Molly Parker gives us a BAD impersonation of a hellish teenie-bopper. (As a side note, the phallic dancing pole from the original is seen, but not used. Maybe they wanted that PG-13.

    Now we find ourselves with Ed and Willow again. They're at the remnants of an old church, and it is discovered that Willow's child, Rowan, is also Edward's child. If you didn't see this coming, you might be one to love this film. After a little thankless investigating, Edward runs out to the dock to catch the sea plane. No one's there. She he sits down on the dock to wait, and we're treated to a nice double dream sequence, in the middle of the day, when he had been sitting down with his eyes open for approximately 3 seconds. This is the kind of thing that is done when we want a good, thrilling scene that can't happen in the course of the story - we add a dream sequence in. Logical.

    Oh, Edward is allergic to bees, which is convenient, as they make honey on the island. Like the original, the crops failed the year before. In this next scene, Eddy finds himself in a field full of bees. "Oh no! I'm in a field full of bees!" He silently screams. There's an aerial shot of the field, that's the best shot in the movie, by far. Oh, that reminds me, the direction here isn't the worst possible, but it's still pretty bad. The lighting, especially, completely shrouds some scenes from view. And the CGI ocean is just laughable.

    So now, I believe, we meet Sister Summersisle, played by Ellen Burstyn. She's nice, and adds a bit of the original's flair to the proceedings with her underplayed performance, but her script is so much worse than Christopher Lee's, which is amazing, as it's basically the same script, with some identical dialogue. Just incredible, how many things went wrong here.

    So, through a series of unfortunate events, we find out that Rowan may have been burned already. She hasn't, and we know this. And I think I'll take this time to point out that we've now flashed back to the beginning in hazy black and white-O-vision 4 or 5 times, seeing more and more of stuff that doesn't matter each time. These include a scare gag that was stolen from UHF, and a host of other "Disturbing images." This is what the film does best - give us scary makeup effects and the like, that have nothing to do with the plot which should be developing, and isn't. Who are the people covered in bees and/or bee stings in Sister Summersisle's fun house? Why are they there? Will we ever see them again? No. Also, there's a shot of Sister Summersisle lying in a white bed. The scene is presented like they were introducing a Bond villain. She might as well have had a white cat to stroke.

    There's a scene here which has to be the funniest thing I've ever seen in a horror movie, or any movie. The scene is one of Edward kicking Sister Honey in the face, but it's done as if it were an action movie. It's so horridly out-of place, that I was literally in tears. The sound and the kick are absolutely outrageous, and I had to apologize to the other five people in the theater for my outburst.

    Then we find ourselves nearing the end of this torture. The animal costumes from the original are back, but whereas the original's costumes and masks were haunting, these are overly elaborate, and at times hilarious. Most so is Edward's bear costume. You may have heard
    that it was overly done, but you have no idea how true that is. To see Nicholas Cage running around and punching people in the face while in this mammoth suit is both admirable and laughable for an actor.

    And you know it from here, if you've seen the original. He escapes with the child, and the child leads him back to the others. Sister Summersile goes through a nearly identical script to Lee's, but in a fraction of the time. Her quick reading completely ruins the casual, terrifying nature of Lord Summerisle's being. And check this out; Willow leaving Summersisle all those years ago and meeting Edward was all a plot to become pregnant, and lead him here some ten years later, after the crops were scheduled to unexpectedly fail.

    That, my friends, is a fine load of choice bull crap, if you pardon my
    profanity.

    So then Eddy shoots at the encroaching figures, but his gun is empty (which is obvious, of course, since he made sure it wasn't a little while ago). The villagers come closer, only to be drop kicked by Cage's awesome ninja skills, but they best him in the end. They lay him down, and, off-screen, you hear two teeth-clenching bone shatters, followed by a scream. Don't think that was effective, though, since the scream is followed by Cage screaming, "My legs! My LEEEGGS!!" I guess Neil LaBute doesn't understand that it' supposed to be funny when they say that in SpongeBob.

    The Wicker Man shows up, says hi to everybody, and the inevitable finally happens - the hero is dead. But, unlike in the 1973 version, you just couldn't care at all. Even if the scene were AS effective as it is in the original (which it's not), at this point, it wouldn't matter if you ripped every one of his fingers off before burning him - The scene, like the rest of the film, is lame.

    There's a scene after that, which is pointless, worthless, stupid, horrible, badly acted, badly conceived, and badly shot. It succeeds in totally unraveling whatever thread of logic remained. I'll go into it more if you'd like, but it's just simply terrible.

    Cut to black.

    The Wicker Man '06 fails in every possible way a film can fail. The script is hackneyed, the acting laughable, the story butchered, the plot holes gaping, the direction uninspired, the editing sub-sub-standard, the soundtrack, while including some cool sound effects, is tame, the scares moronic, the terror nonexistent, the comedy unintentional.

    I really hope I've gotten through to you all.

    Zero Stars.

    Thanks for your time.
     
  2. Myron Breck

    Myron Breck BOO!!! Gotcha!

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    I was let down by the original (thanks largely to the fact that I had heard about the ending and seen the titular "man" on all of the marketing tools) but still found it enjoyable. I couldn't care less about the remake, as usual. I've given up on them at this point and will keep my eyes peeled on this site for any news of a worthy one.

    Too bad this won't be it, most likely.
     
  3. Luna

    Luna Guest

    Amazing review, thanks! I have to see this eventually, but not in the expectation I'll be going into anything good. Of course I'll have to make sure I don't injure myself laughing, but I guess these are the hazards of bad, bad films.
     
  4. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

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    Thanks for the review, Ash!

    Sadly, as bad as this seems to be, I know I'm going to be owning it at some point. I also know I shouldn't bother, but there's no hope I'm afraid. :cry:
     
  5. Luna

    Luna Guest

    Thank you so much, Ash J. Williams.

    You took more time and care in your review than all of the writers put together did for this horrific abortion of a film.

    I laughed pretty hard throughout though. I'll give them that.
     
  6. Ash J. Williams

    Ash J. Williams New Member

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    Thanks guys, means a lot to me.
     
  7. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    I just finished watching the Unrated cut on DVD (I work at a video store, so we get to take them home the weekend before they are released) and yes, the remake is crap. Ash's review is spot on. Now I hadn't seen the theatrical cut, so after I just flipped the disc over (it has both versions) to see what was all 'unrated' about the version I just watched. Seeing as there is no gore, no sex, and barely any language, so how could it be 'unrated'?

    I went through the chapter selection to see if there were any scenes in that had been taken out of the theatrical, and there are exactly the same number of scenes as the unrated. So I skimmed through with the scroll bar on PowerDVD. There is absolutely no difference until about 80 minutes into the movie. So here's what the unrated cut contains that the theatrical doesn't:

    1) There is a scene where Cage runs back to the sea-plane, but it has sunk into the water with only the the wing emerged. As he stumbles back towards the island he sees the pilot trapped between some logs, his eyes pecked out, his mouth a bloody mess, and his left hand missing and bones exposed. Kids in masks spy on over him before ducking back down. Cut back to original version. This entire scene is not in the theatrical version.

    2)After finding out his gun has no bullets and the group of women (and the only few men) surround him and take him down to the ground, they bring in three logs and hold his feet over the edge of it. And here we actually see his legs get broken at the knee with a huge wooden mallet. This part is only 'heard' in the the theatrical version. You get to see it in the unrated.

    3)The movie ends, like it should, with the wicker man burning. The head collapses and falls on the camera. Fade to black. Credits. No shitty 'Six Months Later' sequel-setting up ending that they cut to after this in the theatrical version.

    Those are the only differences between the Unrated and Theatrical. So I'd definately say avoid the theatrical, as it's pointless, especially that ending..... dumb. So if you do still want to watch the remake, watch the unrated version because at least it has the ending that it should have. Still, this movie sucks. The acting is horrible, the script is horrible, and the video on the DVD is horrible. Seriously, it's pixelated... Watch the original instead. 1.5 out of 5.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2006
  8. Ash J. Williams

    Ash J. Williams New Member

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    I will not support this DVD release. If I ever see this movie again, it'll be for free and as something to show my friends as a subtle form of torture.
     
  9. othervoice1

    othervoice1 Well-Known Member

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    I dont think anyone even noticed this film was out- it had to be a flop- I thought the original was good (if not corny in parts) but I have a hard time believing this remake does the original any justice at all
     
  10. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    Oh boy, this was one terrible remake.

    Not only did the script doom the plot to border on being completely unbelievable, but it turned out to be an unintentional comedy!

    The DVD (a flipper disc) has two versions of the film, the theatrical and unrated. The ending seems to be the only real difference, with the unrated cut simply chopping off the final theatrical scene...which is a good thing.
     
  11. Workshed

    Workshed a.k.a. Villyan Shit

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    I will see the remake if there is a scene in which a busty blonde sings, "Come, say 'How do!'" while rhythmically pounding on walls.

    Can anyone verify?
     
  12. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    Completely missing. Actually, there's nothing like that appearing in the remake...it's tame!
     
  13. satans-sadists

    satans-sadists Ghost

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    Very well written review! I'm sure I would agree with you completely, but I still have no intention of seeing this remake. Don't see how Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, and Ed Woodward could be replaced. What the fuck were they thinking with the karate kick to the face scene? :lol: :eek2:
     
  14. Workshed

    Workshed a.k.a. Villyan Shit

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    Aw, weak! Then I will certainly pass.
     
  15. fceurich39

    fceurich39 Well-Known Member

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    it was an okay movie not great
     
  16. baggio

    baggio Well-Known Member

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    decent movie, at least is wasn't as boring as the the original.
     
  17. RyanPC

    RyanPC Guest

    How anyone could think the original is "boring" is simply beyond me. Maybe if you're 12 years old, with the attention span of a fly, I suppose. The remake takes everything that is marvelous and inventive about the original and turns it to shit. The pagan aspect is completely muted, instead replaced with a very tame colony of women who don't really do anything worth noting, and the Cage character is no longer religious. So where does the tension lie? There is no tension. None.

    The film looks good with some nice cinematography, which is about the only compliment I can give to the creators of the remake. What were they thinking? Especially Nicholas Cage--I can easily see him winning a Razzie for his crazed performance. Of course, the only reason the film even remotely works is because it is so damn funny. The scene where he kicks LeeLee in the head nearly killed me, and, sort-of like the original, the ending had me in tears--tears of laughter, that is!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2007
  18. baggio

    baggio Well-Known Member

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    Lets drop the insults. I was just giving my opinion, that I thought the first was boring.
     
  19. Jamm

    Jamm J'aime les cadavres

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    The film wasn't a total let down. Almost though. Like Ryan said, it LOOKS good and some moments were enjoyable (LeeLee getting kicked in the head, for one).
     
  20. RyanPC

    RyanPC Guest

    I was not insulting you, I was talking about myself. ;) I was about 12 when I first saw The Wicker Man and I thought it was "boring". Now I love it.
     

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