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Aaaaaargh! Not the bees!

Cunningly disguised as a bear, Nicolas Cage rescues little Madeleine... I mean Rowan

Above: Cunningly disguised as a bear, Nicolas Cage rescues little Madeleine… I mean Rowan

In case you aren’t aware, Amazon UK runs a DVD rental service similar to that offered by the likes of Blockbuster and LoveFilm, albeit without such a wide range of available titles. Anyway, if you have an Amazon account, it seems that you can get a month of free rentals. I’m not convinced that the various packages offered are cost-effective enough to be worth it in the long run, but a free trial certainly doesn’t hurt, and I decided a few days ago to start renting some titles.

Top of the list was the remake of The Wicker Man, a film with such an awesome pedigree of awfulness that I couldn’t just rely on the word of mouth - I really had to see it for myself. I had already seen a hilarious reel collecting many of its more intentionally funny scenes, but I felt the need to understand them in context, especially after reading my good friend the Baron’s excellent review of both this atrocity and the very good 1973 original.

In retrospect, perhaps “context” is a misleading word to use, because there really is no such thing. This film is so moronic and damn near incompetent that I actually think clips of Nicolas Cage karate-kicking Leelee Sobieski in the abdomen, donning a bear costume, stealing children’s animal face masks and finally having a hive of bees poured over his head work better in isolation than they do when integrated into this meandering, preposterous tale about a policeman with a crippling allergy to bees invading an island-based matriarchal commune in search of his missing daughter.

Just to put this into perspective, in the original, the protagonist, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), was a devoted Christian lured to an island by a group of pagans who needed a virgin for their yearly harvest sacrifice. Obviously, the writer/director of the remake, Neil LaBute, came to the conclusion that Nicolas Cage was such a dishy catch that no-one would believe he was a virgin, so this particular aspect of his character has been replaced by a tendency to flap his arms and faint when in the vicinity of bees. Guess what the women of this island are famed for producing? That’s right: honey. (“Well, Christianity and bee allergy, they’re kind of the same thing,” a friend said to me today when I told him about the film.)

None of this really makes any sense. Why does Cage have a bee allergy? Why is the island dominated by women, with the few male inhabitants subservient mutes? Why does he spend the final act of the film violently assaulting many of said women? Why did LaBute decide to make the missing girl Cage’s daughter? Why would anyone in their right mind commission this heap of drivel? Presumably, someone in a position of power genuinely believed in this project. Cage, who also gets a producer credit, certainly did, although his hammy, outrageous performance as the marauding Edward Malus (yes, that is his name - the man who ends up being murdered by a group of crazy women just happens to be called… oh, never mind) might make you wondering if the whole thing is just an extended piss-take. Rest assured that it isn’t, more’s the pity: it’s deadly serious, and it’s a strong contender for the worst film of 2006.

 
Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 8:26 PM | Comments: 4
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Reviews

 
Comments

1.

It's such a wonderful example of how two film makers can take the same template and come up with completely different results. One is a brilliant thriller with plenty of 'high art' meat because of its theological content, whilst the other... is a sexist, blundering laugh riot.

Anyway, seeing as I convinced you to have a look at the remake (for which I apologise, but you have more than enough armour), I suppose I had better get on with watching both versions of The Omen. I'm afraid there are a few films at the front of the queue and I'm rather busy at present, but keep a lookout...

By the way, tomorrow I should be receiving my rental copy of Torn Curtain. You're one of the few people I've seen to offer a defence of this film, and when a reviewer I respect offers a minority opinion it makes me sit up and take notice.

Posted by: Baron Scarpia, September 27, 2007 10:10 PM

2.

By strange coincidence, I also have The Wicker Man from my Amazon DVD rentals, so I've held off reading your review until I've watched it.

Posted by: Philly Q, September 27, 2007 10:15 PM

3.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Torn Curtain. I found it very enjoyable, if flawed, on my first viewing, although I do wonder if my reaction to it would be so positive a second time round.

Posted by: Whiggles, September 27, 2007 10:15 PM

4.

didn't they just decide to rip off Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home, made into a fairly enjoyable TV mini series with Bette Davis as The Dark Secret of Harvest Home? That's about the harvest festival of an American matriarchy! It looks to me that to appear to be re-imagining Wicker Man they sneakily ripped off something else.

and still botched it.

Posted by: , September 28, 2007 9:32 AM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

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