HTF Review: The Wicker Man (2006) HD-DVD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by JustinCleveland, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

    Dec 23, 2002
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    Sydney, Australia
    Real Name:
    Justin Cleveland
    Studio: Warner Bros.
    Rated: R
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    HD Encoding: 1080p
    Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Dolby Digital 5.1,
    Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; English SDH
    Time: 102 minutes

    About forty five minutes into “The Wicker Man,” Nicholas Cage’s Edward says, “I’m lost.” He isn’t the only one; the incomprehensible plot is topped only by the stilted performances and dead-end subplots in an unneeded remake of a classic supernatural thriller. Both infinitely padded and in need non-exposition-expansion, the story is a convoluted mess that substitutes confusion for intrigue. In summary, “The Wicker Man” is a bad, bad movie.

    Edward Malus (Cage) is a man who can find no satisfaction in his life. A California Highway Patrolman who listens to self-help audio cassettes, he is a bitter man who seems only to find pleasure in inflicting insult upon vile law-breakers (speeders). After failing to help a woman and her daughter escape a burning car that was hit by a speeding truck, Edward becomes haunted by ghostly images of the supposedly-departed (their bodies were never recovered). Shortly thereafter he receives a letter from his ex-fiancee informing him that a girl from her remote village has disappeared. Although he has no jurisdiction, he barges onto the remote Washington-state island in search of a girl who nobody admits exists. Malus’ investigation reveals there may be more going on under the surface of the mysterious Summersile. The problem is that Edward is trapped in a world that he truly cannot understand.

    The problems with this film are innumerable. Although the design is gorgeous and the cinematography beautiful this movie feels stilted and plastic; not surreal as the filmmakers intended. The first few lines of dialogue are painful and for the most part it does not improve. Cage is Cage; his delivery rarely feels natural and it is nearly impossible to divorce the actor from his character. I will give him credit; he did try to make the audience dislike Edward and question his sanity. Unfortunately the film does not support him.

    In the end the film is a short story expanded to feature-length by adding a lot of material that is not clarified. There are neat themes brought up, such as a matriarchal society and connection to the Salem Witches, however they are just material meant to expand the film’s running time and don’t add much to the story.

    I won’t give away the ending, however suffice it to say most of what you invest is lost by the film’s conclusion. Director Neal LaBute attempts to make everything wrap up but in the end puts characters at odds from their previous portrayals, in a way that stretches the audiences (read: my) patience. And, when you ask a few questions, the entire ball of yarn unravels. Avoid this film.

    The 2.35:1 aspect ratio transfer is simply stunning. There is no grain, depth of field is vast and the fine detail is excellent. I did not notice a single moment when my attention was diverted due to a strain in the video quality. Phenomenal.

    The Dolby TrueHD transfer starts weak but gets better as the film progresses. The rear channels are only used for ambient noise and creepy music cues, but for the most part they are not obtrusive or distracting. Channel separation is brilliant, and it is easy to work out the eerie whisperings from the natural wind and musical scores.

    Director Neal LaBute sits down with several of the cast and producers to discuss the film and they are very focused on the designs and grand ideas that they intended for the film, plus how the film evolved as they shot it, which explains many of the patchwork feel of the film. As a filmmaking clinic, from a technical perspective, this is a fascinating commentary. There is also a trailer.

    I cannot, in any way, recommend this film. It is bad. Poor acting, combined with an unfulfilling, overloaded story results in a film that is convoluted and painful. Not worth your time or entertainment dollar.
  2. Niko Nykanen

    Niko Nykanen Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 20, 1999
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    I really didn´t think this movie was that bad. Pretty creepy and somewhat cool ending. But then again, I haven´t seen the original. That must be the reason people hate this version passionetaly? Just look at anyone rating this movie low on IMDb, they mention the original in their review just after giving this a low rating.

    Give this one a chance.
  3. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

    Aug 30, 2006
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    While I did not dislike this film, it is very watchable. It still does not hold a candle to the original uncut version.

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