Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: The Wicker Man (2006)

Credentials: 15%, Certified Rotten ( / 3.6 out of 10 ( / 36 out of 100 ( / Nomiated for FIVE Razzies at the 2007 Golden Raspberry Awards--- Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Nicolas Cage), Worst Remake or Rip-off, Worst Screenplay, Worst On-Screen Couple (Nic Cage and his bear suit)

Plot: A cop (Nic Cage) travels to a small island to investigate the disappearance of young girl named Rowan (Erika Shaye Gair). Bad times soon follow since the island in question is inhabited by a quasi-pagan, cult-like farming community with a strong love for bees. Oh yeah, just so happens his ex-gal pal, Willow (Kate Beahan), is a member of the cult and it’s her daughter that’s gone missing. Can Nic Cage rescue the kid, defeat the cult and forever win the fair lady’s hand?  Do something nutty with your hair and make sure you lock and load your epipens, boys and girls!     

Why it sucks: Well for starters, “Wicker Man” is a remake of a 70’s cult classic. That alone should send up red flags the size of bed sheets. Sadly for me and luckily for the remake’s cast and crew, I’ve never seen the original so I’m just going to have to judge the remake on its own… umm… merits, if you can call them that.

                Now, Cage is usually a hoot to watch because of the weird ticks, nutty hair and crazed mannerisms he adds to his characters. He does his best in “Wicker Man” to make the cop interesting, but outside of a Chuck-Norris-esque knowledge of Kung Fu, this role is pretty tame for Nic. Even his hair is pretty straightforward, which I have to say, was a major let down for me when I first saw it.
                Instead of bizarre quirks, Cage’s character is kind of a jerk and mostly a pretty horrible cop. He alternates between taking the case way too lightly one minute, to needlessly brow-beating members of the cult in search of answers mere seconds later. It’s confusing and made me slightly dizzy. It also made me not really care about what happened to either the girl or Cage. Always a good idea for a screenwriter to torpedo his/her main source of conflict.
                For that we can blame Neil LaBute, who wrote and directed the movie, which starts off painfully slow. Business doesn’t really pick up until well into the third act when the harvest festival begins and Nic Cage dons a bear costume and starts punching out everything that moves. Good times.
                Before that though, lots of nothing. Somewhere around the third or fourth time Cage tears off his shirt and jumps into a body of water yelling “Rowan!” you’ll realize LaBute has nothing left up his sleeve and is just stalling.
                The inner workings of the cult, their love of bees, none of it is all that interesting or surprising. It’s all a little too “paint-by-numbers-thriller” for this guy. Also, I kind of forgot I was watching a horror movie until the last 5-10 minutes. 
                 There are a few moments of unintentional comedy, thanks to some terrible acting from Mr. Cage ("How'd it get burned???"), his quick fists and that top notch bear costume. Few and far between though.
                --- Cage’s character is deathly allergic to bees and yet still runs right into the middle of a field FULL of massive, bolder-sized bee hives. That, my friends, is called natural selection.
                ---Ellen Burstyn is not only a fantastic actress, but a great sport. She spends most of her screen time spouting nonsense and wearing Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” makeup and yet she still comes out smelling like roses. Amazing.
                ---So, whatever happened to Leelee Sobieski? The crew must have left her on that island “Home Alone” style because that girl was in every third movie not so long ago.

 Worst of the worst: So many to choose from here. I’d have to go with a dramatic chase sequence where Nicholas Cage runs through the woods while wearing big fake bear feet. You see, at one point he puts on a bear costume as a disguise. Apparently he forgot to take the feet off after the ruse had run its course. So, that leaves our hero wearing fuzzy slippers during one of the movie’s most serious moments. Whoops.

Video Evidence
WARNING: EXTREMELY spoiler-heavy, but it's got every dumb scene all in one place.
"The Wicker Man" as a comedy. Great spoof trailer, might have actually worked better this way.

                And that’s how the “Wicker Man” crumbles. Bumblebee tuna.

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