The Wicker Man (2006) DVD Review
Reviewed by Peter West
DVD released by Warner Home Video
Directed by Neil LaBute
Written by Anthony Shaffer (1973 screenplay), Neil LaBute (2006 screenplay)
102 minutes, rated PG-13
The original Wicker Man is a film that has been called by some "The Citizen Kane of Horror Movies", others think of it as a somewhat mediocre film of the 70's. While not worshiping the original, I did think it was a significant film of its time. How can a remake compare to an original with such a reputation? Well it would have to take it to another level, something Neil LaBute attempted unsuccessfully... The first mistake that he made is turning Christopher Lee's great Lord Summersisle character into a female role (played by Ellen Burston) and to achieve a PG-13 rating, all of the sexual titillation is removed. Clearly a large part of the original film is the pagan sexual rites, without them the new film felt empty. The original plotline is kept for most of the film and with just a few modifications the story is pretty much the same.
I had seen so many bad reviews of this film that I was expecting a film that would be painful to watch. That's not the case at all though, while slow at times, the movie does not put you to sleep. I found it to be an interesting story that's quite suspenseful. Cage and Beaham give good performances, Burston is a bit over the top as she should be in her role. They did attempt to make a good film. I think a lot of the anger from fans of the original is because of the change from sexual paganism to a feminist society that uses men as sperm donors is so much of a deviation, it removed what was one of the original's major charms...
While I can't really say to go rush to buy or rent The Wicker Man, I really can't say to avoid it either. While not living up to the original, it's not a dog either. I enjoyed it a bit, and am not going to complain about losing two hours of my life as some have said. If you get a chance to see it you just might like it.
Presented in a anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, visually The Wicker Man is a trip. Filmed on Saturna Island in British Columbia, The Wicker Man has some amazing scenery. Combined that with modern technology, The Wicker Man has incredible picture quality. The DVD is sharp and crisp, I can only imagine how good the HD version must look!
The Wicker Man has a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. Original Music by Angelo Badalamenti works well with the pace of the film. The Wicker Man is a slow story that builds in intensity towards the climax, the music contributes to the feel of impending doom that is coming. Since it's a modern film there's plenty of surround effects, especially for the cheap thrills...
There's two versions of the film on this "flipper" DVD, the original theatrical and alternate ending versions. A commentary highlighted by Director/Writer Neil LaBute and costars Kate Beahan and Leelee Sobieski as well as a trailer. It would have been nice to have a featurette on the filming though.