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(Widescreen Edition)

THE WICKER MAN ($29) is an odd choice for a movie remake. The original film is a true cult classic, but it is also a very strange movie that is more of an acquired taste than a horror flick universally embraced by the masses. I personally, am amongst those who like that enjoyed Anthony Shaffer’s original. However, this remake, while similar, is even more oddball and strange than the original. Because of its strangeness, or in spite of it, this remake is nowhere as successful or satisfying as the 1973 version of THE WICKER MAN.

The basic premise of this version of THE WICKER MAN follows traumatized highway patrol officer Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage), as he tries to deal with the freak accident that lead to the death of a motorist and her daughter. During his recuperation, Malus receives a letter from his former fiancee Willow (Kate Beahan), who implores him to come to the isolated island where she lives to help her find her missing daughter. Upon his arrival on Summersisle, Malus finds himself an unwelcome visitor amongst the matriarchal society, whose members claim no knowledge of the missing girl. Digging deeper, Malus uncovers what he believes to be a conspiracy involving the young girl, who appears to be the intended victim of a Pagan sacrifice. The cast of THE WICKER MAN also features Frances Conroy, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski, Diane Delano, Michael Wiseman, Erika-Shaye Gair, Christa Campbell, Emily Holmes and Zemphira Gosling. While its always nice to see Ellen Burstyn in a film, her talents seem wasted in the role of Sister Summersisle, the queen bee of this society where men are little more than drones.

Warner Home Video has made both the theatrical version of THE WICKER MAN, as well as an unrated version, available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Both presentations (on separate sides of the disc) look very good, although several notches below outstanding. The transfer offers a sharp and rather nicely defined image. Colors remain fairly vibrant, and are rendered without significant flaws, in addition to reproducing natural looking flesh tones. Blacks are solid and deep, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast is generally smooth and the level of shadow detail is just fine. The film elements are free from defects. A grain structure is noticeable in the darker sequences. Digital compression artifacts are not a concern.

THE WICKER MAN comes with a well-mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The track isn't particularly aggressive, but sound effects are well deployed during key moments. At other times, the track is atmospheric and more than a bit enveloping. Fidelity is quite strong, with the music having a good sense of presence and the sound effect being genuinely convincing. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a running audio commentary featuring writer/director Neil LaBute, plus actors Leelee Sobieski and Kate Beahan, in addition to editor Joel Plotch, and costume designer Lynette Meyer.

Ultimately, the 2006 version of THE WICKER MAN turns out to be an unnecessary remake. Warner does their usual good job with the DVD, so there are no disappointments on that front. If you are curious, its definitely worth a rental.



{The Wicker Man (Widescreen Unrated/Rated Edition) (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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