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The Wicker Man
Review written on: September 3rd, 2006

The Wicker Man Review

This movie is, like many others in Hollywood right now, a remake. Nicolas Cage takes the lead as Edward Malus, a California police officer who is recovering from seeing a mother and daughter smashed by a run away truck and burned alive. Edward is tortured by the vision of it and takes lots of pills to make them go away. Lots. We find out that their bodies are never found and the car is unregistered. Who were there people who now haunt his dreams? Unfortunately, this is one of the many confusing and unanswered questions of this movie.

Edward receives a strange letter from an ex-fiance, asking him to come up to help her find her missing child, even though she ended things very badly years ago. The letter has no post mark but a honey bee in the corner. After some quick googling and a chat with his partner, Edward decides that he needs a vacation and heads to Washington to help Willow, played by Kate Beahan, and her daughter Rowan. Cage’s performance in the early part of this movie is misdirected and vague. However, it allows a sense of mystery to build similar to a 1930s detective film. The young man eager to help finds himself in an odd situation, and tries to figure out what is going on. The only problem here is that Cage’s Edward never figures it out and the audience is not let in on the secret either, which causes a headache of massive proportions.

The island of Summers Isle is a commune of bee keepers who worship the mother goddess and are not welcoming of Edward. The women proclaim they are not subservient to men, and the men don’t speak at all so we never hear their side of the story. Edward finds himself tolerated by the hive, but kept at an arm’s length. Willow is secretive and cannot tell Edward what is going on because she is being watched. By who, we don’t know. Why? Even cloudier. But, her daughter is missing and she knows she’s alive somewhere. The islanders, however, give different stories. She never existed. She’s dead. Willow is crazy. The story grows stickier than the floor of a movie theater.

Ellen Burstyn plays Sister Summersisle, who is the island leader and messenger of the mother goddess. She was a good choice for the role, but her performance is mismatched with Cage’s. In the scene when they meet it felt as though the two actors were cut and pasted from different movies. Their jilted interactions added to the confusing vibe this movie offered. The pure highlight of this movie is Molly Parker as the school teacher Sister Rose. She gives a strong performance and seems to be the only one who not only knows what is going on, but approves. Her screen time with Cage’s Edward show the most chemistry and fire. Too bad more of the story didn’t involve her.

In his quest to figure out what happened to Rowan, Edward asks the islanders questions and receives no answers, of course. It is here Edward’s character undergoes a rough transition on the island, from helpful cop to wounded maniac. Edward flashes his police badge at every chance and states he is on official business, even though he is a California cop in Washington and has no jurisdiction. But this is merely one annoying detail. Eventually, we see Edward kicking in every door on the island screaming “where is she!”, as he punches out the women who refuse to help. The movie is already ridiculous at this point, and only goes further off the deep end as Cage dons a bear costume and has to run through the woods and into a festival. Perhaps the festival of bad acting.

When the end comes there is much suffering for Edward, but at least it’s over for the audience.

 

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