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THE WICKER MAN
Suspense/Horror, Thriller and Remake
Some Sacrifices Must Be Made
CAST AND CREDITS:
Nicolas Cage, Leelee Sobieski, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Christa Campbell
Anthony Shaffer, Neil LaBute
George Furla, Trevor Short, Andreas Thiesmeyer
Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Rated PG-13 for disturbing images and violence, language and thematic issues.
Rated PG for violence and disturbing images
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"When you leave will you take me with you?"
The original WICKER MAN film was made in Britain in 1973 and it starred Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle. In the usual Hollywood tradition the film setting for THE WICKER MAN has of course been moved to the United States. A lacklustre Nicholas Cage stars in this thriller, who unknown to him has been picked years earlier to fulfil a strange destiny. Cage fills the role of Sergeant Howie played by Edward Woodward in the original film.
"They nearly had you, our friends the bees."
The film takes place on Summer's Isle, a privately owned island in Washington State. Only those who are invited are allowed on the island which is only visited by a supply plane. Nicholas Cage's character, Edward Malus, a California State Police officer arrives on the island uninvited and is told so but he is there on official business.
"What happen's if someone has a boy?"
Malus was going through the motions of his job until one day the hand of fate seems to intervene in his life. Whle on motorcycle highway patrol he sees a car drop a doll out of it's window; scooping it up he proceeds to pull over the vehicle and tries to give the doll back to the little girl in the back seat. She promptly throws it back on to the center of the highway. As Edward steps out to pick it up, a tractor trailer swerves to avoid hitting him and instead plows into the car setting it on fire. Malus tries to rescue the little girl but he can't. The car explodes, knocking him unconscience. After seeing the entire movie and I thought back on this scene I realized it didn't quite make sense to me, after you watch the film you may see what I mean. it just seemed to throw things off for me.
"Something bad is about to happen. I can feel it."
For some time after his recovery, Eddie goes through a depression until he receives a letter, in beautifully written calligraphy, from his old girlfriend Willow (Kate Beahan). She asks for his help. It has been ten years since he last heard from her. Willow disappeared after Edward proposed to her, but know she writes to get his help in finding her daughter, Rowan, that has supposedly gone missing from Summer's Isle, where she now resides. She begs him to help find her child and invites him to come to Summer's Isle. Hmmm...you think there is a connection here between these three...duh, why not hit the audience with a sledge hammer. Anyway, against wise and sage advice from his fellow officers, Edward foolishly decides to go to the rescue of the fair maiden.
"He's gone ma'am."
It doesn't take too long for the audience to realize the outcome of this contrived plot and Edward's investigations. Director Neil LaBute unfortunately can not seem to really surprise us with the plot. Maybe it's because we already have a vague idea of the plot from other sources such as the original movie and from Tom Tyron's novel HARVEST HOME from which it borrows quite liberally I might add. I bring this up because a few of us at our screening of THE WICKER MAN couldn't get over the feeling we saw this story before. Well that was because this movie seems to be based on the television mini series from 1978 called THE DARK SECRET OF HARVEST HOME which was of course a dramatization of Tryon's HARVEST HOME, as well as the original WICKER MAN movie. The conclusion of this movie came as no surprise to us. Now, the film may have had a bit more punch if they hadn't sanitized it for the American version and included the wonderful nude dancing sequence from the original.
"The drone must die."
In this version the island's population is a matriarchal society where women control everything and the sheepish men never speak. They are shown basically as beasts of burden that are there only to procreate when necessary. The isle is controlled by Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn) who claims to be the earthbound spirit of the island's Great Mother Goddess. The women of this island have as their ancestor's, women who left Europe to escape the male dominated society. They came to the new world expecting it to be different. It was their misfortune to make Salem their home, a place where free thinking women usually ended up burnt at the stake as witches. Their escape from that evil place led them to buy an island where the descendants of these women have now lived for generations away from the male dominated world. Here they are in control and worship nature. They base their lives on the bees that they harvest honey from. They treat the men as drones and refer to them as such throughout the film. It is a private society that does not allow unwanted visitor's so that it can carry on their beliefs without patriarchal interference.
"You have been chosen to die a martyr's death."
I will not delve into the plot much more so that those people who have never seen any of the films I've referred to will be able to hopefully be surprised by the brutal ending. The evil machinations of these women is explained and that is one of the things that I found to be a bit of stretch.
"Did I do it right, mommy?"
I was surprised to see that Nicholas Cage would even bother to take on this lacklustre role but if it wasn't for him the film would not have had any of the punch it did deliver. Unlike his incredibly amazing job of acting in Oliver Stone's WORLD TRADE CENTER, this part seemed to be one that he just walked through. All this is not to degrade the film, as it has it's moments but I have seen better. The younger audience will find it more interesting if they do not mind the lack of action, violence or bloodletting. The rest of us may be disappointed.
"Just a tip there. It often helps to glance at the photo."
Last year when the film was announced Robin Hardy the director of the original film made a big issue of making sure his name was left off the credits of this remake. He was very upset and disheartened that the Hollywood version took the film away from it Scotish setting, which is where these pagan rituals were heavily based. The removal of the virgin aspect and converting the characters to a female cast and adding killer bees upset him. Now just in case you get misinformation here, don't go expecting to see killer bees because they are only regular bees that are used rather effectively to sting an allergic Edward, so that we can see a bit of mysticism in the film. I also thought it would be interesting to note that the virgin sacrifice plot in the original was not what you think. The male lead played by Woodward was the virgin, something that had to be altered for this remake because it would be difficult to accept a male as old as Cage's character to be a virgin in our society, unless of course you happen to be making a film about a 40 year old virgin.
"Willow, why have you done this to me."
Over all I would have to say that THE WICKER MAN was nowhere near as good as the original British version with it's super cast of the time. The film was an excellent thriller for 1973 with Christopher Lee doing probably his best acting performance to that time, playing the role that in this remake was played by Ellen Burstyn. He was so enamoured by the original's script that Lee actually acted in the film for free. If you wish to see the original for comparsion before THE WICKER MAN's release then hit your local video store and treat yourself. Well until next time, see you at the movies.
""Welcome Mr. Malus. You've come of your own free will to the wicker man.""
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Vincent Marchesano also known as Vince enjoys watching all types of films and enjoys reviewing them. At an early age he became enamoured with motion pictures especially horror films, fantasy films and science fiction films. His tastes quickly were amended to include all other film genre, from westerns to romances and epic films from all over the world. His taste in films became wide and eclectic as was his taste in music. He loved to watch Movie Classics, Feature Films, American Movie Classics, monster movies, Canadian Movie Classics, Classic Movies, War Films, American Movies of all types, Canadian Movies, Adventure movies, action movies, featuring especially John Wayne. His interest in Classic Films began with the Marx Brothers films and with the 1920's Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera Movies. He soon began reading about Film Stars and Directors in American Films and Italian films which gave him a great appreciation for Orson Welles and Fredrico Fellini, THe advent of video tapes brought him a whole new appreciation for, American Movies, Classic Cinema, American Cinema, Films, Hollywood, Movies, Classic Hollywood, Film Reviews, Black and White Movies, Silent Films, Silent movies,Actress, Actors, Westerns, Horror, Hollywood Drama, science Fiction, Drama, Comedy, Sex, terror, Adventure, Monster movies, Thrillers, thrill, Hollywood Stars, , Motion Picture, Show, horror movies, Talking Pictures, Hollywood Documentary and War Movies. Moving Picture viewings were no longer limited to Silver Screens of repetoire Movie Theaters where he was introduced to Technicolor Films, action films, suspense, suspense movies as 35mm features. At these cheap theatres that dotted the landscape 35mm, 35mm movies and 16mm movies became his inspiration which helped his story telling when drawing his super hero comic strips as well. The new digital age brought in dvds,digital movies,videos, tapes which he could watch in the comfort of his home. His interest in films at one point brought him into the theatrical exhibition field where he ran several discount houses as well as art theaters and drive-in movie theaters. He quickly realized that he was not happy with how most reviewers reviewed films he was showing. This lead him in the idea of writing more industry friendly Movie reviews. His movie review were reviewed within their own categories. Gone were reviews where Godzilla would be compared to some Fellini film. He believed that horror movies should be compared to other horror and fantasy films. Romance movies should be compared to other films of that genre. Vince very rarely disliked any film except for his great disdain for Existenz and Scenes From A Marriage. He can watch King Kong, The Great Escape, Bringing up Baby, Marx Brothers and Killer Klowns From Outer Sapce over and over. He likes to enjoy many classics such as Citizen Kane and Wizard of Oz but he has a soft spot for cartoons which he can watch over and over especially Betty Boop and Popeye along with all the warner Brother characters. He know continues to review films at a slower pace due to lack of time but he promises to do more. So many films to watch, so little time, but where there is a will there is a way.