The Wicker Man Review
Eventually I suppose that Hollywood is going to remake every single memorable movie from the last few decades. Whilst sequels are also rife at the moment, 2006 was privy to a remake of the 1973 cult (literally) classic, The Wicker Man. The original story starred The Equalizer's Edward Woodward and the great horror maestro Christopher Lee, and is memorable for its tense, sexually-charged atmosphere, pagan rituals and a nude dance by Britt Ekland and her body double. I cannot fully justify its cult classic status, but I do see why it can be generally regarded as a good b-movie horror. When they talked about a remake, I was not initially that apprehensive - the recent remakes of cult horrors Texas Chainsaw and Hills Have Eyes were enjoyably disturbing modern alternatives, and with Nicholas Cage (a man certainly not afraid of challenging roles) taking the lead, it couldn't be all bad, could it?
Sheriff Edward Malus is a motorcycle cop who suffers a terrible psychological trauma after failing to rescue some victims of a road traffic accident. Haunted by the event and the image of the young girl that he could not save, he takes some time off and retreats into a bottle of pills, but when he receives a plea from his ex-fiancée regarding her missing daughter, he decides to go and investigate. Journeying to Summersisle, the private island where the young girl went missing, Malus finds much more than he bargained for. The island runs on a class system where the women are in charge and the men are subservient and don't even have the right to speak. The neo-pagan cult group, following the loss of a whole year's crops, believe that they need to make the ultimate sacrifice to resurrect their fertility and it falls upon Malus to stop them.
The 2006 Wicker Man is without a doubt one of the worst movies that I have ever seen. Although, for the most part, it is a reasonably atmospheric and watchable production, the final act is so utterly ridiculous and anticlimactic that it makes you truly feel like you have wasted just over ninety minutes of your life. Even Nicholas Cage can't save it. I don't even know where to begin, but the absolute low points include Cage taking somebody's bicycle at gunpoint, front-kicking Leelee Sobieski in the face and running for his life dressed as a gorilla. I have heard comments about how viewers cannot easily tell whether or not this is supposed to be a comedy, and I can completely see why.
With cameo roles for the aforementioned Leelee Sobieski (Joyride), Kate Beahan (Flightplan), Molly Parker (Deadwood) and Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream) as some of the sisters in this matriarchal society, and a seemingly desperate central performance by Cage, the acting is nothing to write home about. Nobody particularly lets the movie down, but nothing is in the slightest bit memorable, and for a production where perhaps his trademark over-acting could be moulded into something appropriate, it seems thoroughly out of place here. Too much sarcasm, too much ranting and some stupidly conceived scenes of unnecessary violence (the only noticeable difference in this purported Director's Cut), particularly violence towards women, all makes this a potential career-low for Cage and, basically a movie that should generally be avoided. Will this be a lesson to stop remaking perfecting good movies? Probably not. It does not come recommended.