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"The Wicker Man"

Directed by Neil LaBute.
Written by Neil LaBute.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Kate Beahan, Leelee Sobiesky and Ellen Burstyn.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  9/2/06


I had a choice to finish up my Two for the Price of None night ("The Science of Sleep" was early)--go see "Crank" at a nearby theater, or go to see "The Wicker Man" at a theater near my apartment.  Since I felt better about paying to see "Crank" the next day, I picked "The Wicker Man" as my second freebie of the night.


After seeing "Your Friends and Neighbors" and generally hearing good things about playwright/film director Neil LaBute, and seeing that he was teaming up with Nic Cage to do a remake of the 70s' thriller "The Wicker Man", I figured that even though the trailer sucked, the film might be a bit better.  But, as I am becoming more accustomed to as I get older, I am very willing to admit that I made a grave mistake, because the 2006 version of "The Wicker Man" is pretty much dogshit, save for some laughs that are clearly unintentional near the end of the movie.

The set up here is that California cycle cop Edward Malus (Cage) starts out the film by witnessing a horrible accident where a mother and her child are hit by an 18-wheeler, killing both after a fire breaks out in their car.  Flash forward two weeks, and Malus--still on leave from the department for stress-related symptoms--gets a letter from his ex-fiancée Willow (Kate Beahan), who has a problem: her young child, Rowan, has gone missing in the community they live at somewhere off the coast of the state of Washington.  Edward, in an effort to help, gets to the island, only to find that the island is run by some leftovers of Paradise Island (where that Wonder Woman chick used to hang), and everyone there is bent on not assisting into the investigation of the missing child.  But, as Edward gets deeper into the mystery, you know that something's up, and just where the hell is that kid being held?

Here's all you need to know--after the initial 20 minutes, this movie goes slowly but surely right down the fucking shitter.  Now I'm seeing why this was not made available to critics until the night before reviews could be sent out--what a dog this movie is!  Cage seems hell-bent on making "The Wicker Man" more camp than thriller, and as a producer of this mess, one assumes that both he and LaBute were going hard to run this thing right into the ground.  The cast (mainly women on the island; the few men that are there don't seem to do much talking) is pretty bad, and they just don't seem to be all that spooky given how things eventually turn out for everyone involved.  There are no real scares, although a couple of the visuals are a little weird...but, none are as shocking as the kicker, when Malus must don a bear suit late in the film in a final effort to retrieve Rowan.  Wow, people were just howling in my theater when this happened...was the intent here comedy, or horror?

This one is pretty bad; it's not a bad-looking film and there are some laughs, but overall, this fucking blows.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09