Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NIC CAGE MONTH: The Wicker Man (2006)

Director: Neil LaBute
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan

“You have my permission to STAY OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY!”
-Nicolas Cage

What a vile, vapid, stupid pile of visual garbage. What a rancid cinematic venture…oh, sorry, I was just expressing my HEINOUS dislike of this GODAWFUL movie I just saw. Yes, it’s still Nicolas Cage month, and this is one of his worst movies ever. People, prepare your missiles, grab your shotguns and get ready to want to kill everyone involved in this one. This…sigh…is The Wicker Man.

And I don’t mean the 1970s suspenseful thriller that had a chilling atmosphere and sense of isolation and terror around every corner. I mean the ass-raping remake that came out just a few years ago starring Nicolas Cage. Why Nicolas Cage? Because he’ll do anything, and nobody else was STUPID enough to sign on for this horse diarrhea of a movie. This is a really stupid pile of clichés and plot craters (not holes; CRATERS) that will make you want to dig your eyes out with a rusty spoon, so let’s just get started.

We start off with an empty, barren road with nothing on it at all. Very fitting as it probably describes this movie quite well. Then we see the diner from Legion where two cops are having lunch. One of them is Nicolas Cage! Haven’t seen him in the last few weeks at Cinema Freaks, have we? The idea of Nicolas Cage being a cop is almost as scary as Nicolas Cage being a magician is hilarious, but I guess I’ll just go with it. We see him doing incredibly risky and daring cop-like things like…handing little girls their dolls back when they threw them on the side of the road. Edgy.

The true horror of this film.

But then tragedy strikes when a big 18 wheeler comes out of nowhere and slams into the car, making it burst into flames. How did this happen in broad daylight? God only knows…well, really, probably not even God knows that. No, this is just in that special realm of logic known as Hollywood Logic, where big, heavy vehicles are driven, apparently, by blind people. Nic Cage tries valiantly to save the little girl and her mother but sadly cannot, and an explosion destroys the car once and for all. We then fade to black.

The movie re-opens with Cage sitting around on his couch taking pills for his depression. I just hope it isn’t like that other movie where he took a lot of pills to ease his pain…


So this female officer comes in and gives him a bunch of letters from concerned folks wishing him well, and in the pile he finds one that isn’t stamped at all. This one is from his old flame Willow.

Not that Willow; that would be if this movie was actually awesome. But anyway, she’s writing to Cage to tell him that she has a missing daughter, and that she only trusts Cage to help her find her. Cage talks to one of his buddies at the station about it, and it is revealed that the place Willow lives at is called Summersisle, a sort of weird Amish-hippie commune of women who grow their own crops and everything. Cage decides to go to the island to help despite his cop buddy’s skepticism.

He gets a lift from this old fuck who’s delivering food and stuff after bribing him with lots of cash. He is immediately greeted by three old hags who pretty much act condescending and rude to him from the get go, oblivious to the fact that he’s been invited there by his ex. Their reasoning? HE’S A MAN. HE MUST BE EVIL. DESTROY THE PENIS.

Yeah, you’re in for quite a lot of feministic vomit from this movie in the next hour and a half, so buckle your seatbelts. They tell him that Willow’s daughter, named Rowan, doesn’t really exist, and it’s incredibly obvious from the get-go that they’re all hiding something. If these women are so smart though, how come they had no idea he was coming? And since they’re obviously covering something up, why the hell do they even let him stay? Yeah, he’s an officer of the law, but…they don’t have to abide by the United States laws. They’ve got their own rules and governing practices and everything, so what the hell, man? It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re trying to destroy everything we’ve established and possibly cause the obliteration of everything we stand for. OK, you can stay the night.’ STUPID!

Oh, and there’s this really weird part where the old ladies have these two guys bring up this burlap sack dripping with blood and writhing crazily. When Cage tries to touch it, they scare him and start laughing…uh, I don’t get it. I guess it must be some of that oh-so-highbrow hippie coven humor that I’ve heard so much about. Truly these people keep alive the art of good humor!

Ugh, so then Cage finally meets Willow, who I think is trying to set a record for the most penetrating wide-eyed stare ever recorded on film. Seriously, she looks like a fucking raccoon half the time she’s on screen.

The eyes are the windows to the soul...

It’s established that nobody on the island likes Willow; they’ve been saying it ever since Cage got on the island, and she even admits that she has ‘wild ways.’ Which brings up another question for this movie; how come they don’t just kill her? She’s the only one on the whole fucking island who’s going against the accepted story that Rowan never existed, and they’re all pretty obviously bugged about that, so why don’t they just make her disappear too? THIS MAKES NO GODDAMN SENSE AT ALL!

After that, Cage goes on a trek through the city looking for people to interview, when he comes across a school of identical little girls who probably didn’t make it into The Shining for that one famous scene. The teacher, Sister Rose, steps outside with him and tells him exactly what happened: Rowan is not ‘dead,’ but has been ‘given to the Earth,’ or some hippie-ass crap like that. But she also has a Freudian slip and lets out that Rowan will be sacrificed, rather than already has been. Whoops.

Well at least he isn't trying to teach the ABCs again.

So…how come nobody else couldn’t have told him this? If they just lied and told him she was dead from the start, this whole thing could have been over in 2 seconds! Why the hell are they making it so complicated? Why is this movie so stupid? Why did Nic Cage even agree to do it? Why? WHY?

But no, then we get Cage wandering around through some corn fields to a graveyard, where Willow finds him. They exchange some awkward dialogue when Willow just comes out with the big stupid plot twist we were all waiting for: CAGE IS REALLY THE FATHER! This just gives a whole new meaning to all those times a character asked why Willow didn’t just contact the father! Boy, movie, you really threw me for a loop…go shoot yourself. Slowly and painfully.


So Cage keeps investigating, all the while experiencing pointless, vague “visions” from his drug use, I guess, that don’t really point toward anything so much as just confuse us all. He’s running around outside when he gets attacked by bees, which he’s deathly allergic to. He gets healed by this crazy doctor lady who, of course, used only natural herbs to do it. Then he talks with Sister Summersisle herself, who has perfected the language of vagueness to the extreme.

NIC CAGE: What happens if someone happens to have a boy? What happens then?
NIC CAGE: One more question, because I just don’t get you; I don’t get this place…
SISTER SUMMERSISLE: You will…in time.

Can you be any less specific?

So yeah, then Cage goes prowling in the graveyard again and this time finds himself locked inside an underwater vent all night. He does find Rowan’s shirt and her little doll, but he’s also REALLY PISSED OFF when Willow comes to rescue him. He goes running around in the village looking for Summersisle, and finds instead a bunch of really weird crap, like an old one eyed man locked in a room, naked in bed. And then a naked girl covered with bees, tied to a chair…these people have some very odd ideas about feng shui, don’t they? None of this is ever explained or shown again, by the way. Because I guess showing us things that are actually disturbing or worth talking about isn't this movie's bag.

So Cage goes nuts. This, ladies and gents, is the best segment of any Nicolas Cage movie. It is what I like to call, Cage Rage. It’s where he completely loses his shit and freaks out on everyone involved. It’s…not so much fun for everyone else in the movie, but for us, it’s just golden. So, Wicker Man. Bestow upon us your hallowed Cage Rage.

He punches a few women, puts on a bear suit and sneaks into the parade (to Willow’s complete lack of surprise – I guess he did this kind of shit all the time) and then runs up a hill and knocks out the people trying to burn poor Rowan.

…seriously? That’s really it? That’s all the Cage Rage you’re giving us? I’ve seen paper towel dispensers with more energy than this! What a frigging ripoff! I’m very disappointed.

He escapes with Rowan into the woods, where they hide for a while before running back into the feminist mob out in the field. It is then revealed that – gasp, shock, awe – the whole thing was a set up the entire time! Yes, Willow was just pretending to like him all along, even back when they were together. Apparently the whole thing was a plot to offer Nicolas Cage as a sacrifice to the gods to bring the crops back, even though they couldn’t possibly have known exactly when their crops would go bad 7 or 8 years previously when Cage and Willow were actually together, could they? And why the hell would they go through all this trouble, waiting almost a decade if not more, to get the guy who starred in National Treasure? There really wasn’t any other way they could get someone to sacrifice? I mean, look at him:

I mean OK, so it has to be someone ‘connected’ to them, fine, whatever. But here’s another question, then; why the hell couldn’t these hippie-feminist hags have gotten Willow to bring Cage over while they were still together? It probably would have made a lot more sense than waiting so fucking long. And why were they acting so creepy and weird this whole time? Wouldn’t it have been easier to entrap him if they had acted nice and hospitable to him, to catch him off guard? None of this makes any fucking sense at all! It’s like a labyrinth of plot holes; truly a landmark in horrible writing. Nothing in this movie is even remotely connected to normal human logic.

So they burn Nicolas Cage alive, sing about how the drone must be sacrificed, and the movie ends. Yeah. It ends with Nicolas Cage burning alive. Isn’t that twice now in his career that he’s been set on fire and burnt alive? Well, Kick-Ass came after this movie. But still.

What kind of mindboggling thought process ever conceived of this movie? How can anyone think it’s even remotely redeemable? The Wicker Man is one of those movies that is just spectacularly unentertaining in every possible way. Even the Cage Rage wasn’t all that great! God, it’s like they were trying to be as horrible as they possibly could.

And aside from that, what am I supposed to gain from it? The original one was scary because you were so detached and removed from this alien world the main character was in, and the whole theme was about a man in over his head in a completely isolated area. You get that a little here, but it's played up a lot more sympathetically here. In the new one, you get a tragic backstory for the main guy and a lot closer into his personal life, so when he burns alive at the end, you’re not really left with anything because there wasn’t really a reason he had to die. Sure, people die in real life, but what does this story gain from having Nicolas Cage burn alive at the end when all he was trying to do was help out his own damn daughter? There’s no reason for it; no artistic integrity and no gain in the plot. This whole movie is just a gaping black void of quality. Nothing about it is remotely good. It’s as meaningless as they get, it’s clichéd beyond belief and it just has no reason to exist at all!

Eugh, screw it, I’m just gonna go listen to the Iron Maiden song instead. Way better than this shit.

You watch the world exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light
Brothers and their fathers joining hands and make a chain
The shadow of the Wicker Man is rising up again

None of these images are mine. Nor is the Iron Maiden song mine. However awesome it may be.