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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

The wick of 'Wicker Man' burns out

Detail, movie poster of The Wicker Man.

By Ryan Pence

September 6, 2006 | The Wicker Man: a relentless tale of a missing child, an overworked police officer and an unhelpful community of female fascists. That all adds up to frustration and questions that need answering -- and that was just from the audience's perspective.

The Story. The Wicker Man, a remake of the 1973's cult phenomeon. The story follows Edward Malus (Nicholas Cage), who receives a letter from an ex-lover, Willow (Kate Beahan). The letter is a plea to help find "their" missing daughter, somewhere on the island of Summersisle. When Malus arrives at the island, he finds himself in a community where help from the locals is extremely hard to come by and his investigation into his missing daughter becomes very daunting.

The Script & Direction. Neil Labute, writer and director, is more widely known in the theatre world for plays that explore social issues, such as Fat Pig. Unfortunately, the formula that he is most well known for is clearly not evident within the contents of this script. The audience is bombarded with cheesy dialogue, odd and confusing flashbacks, and a whole lot of frustrating scenes with characters who talk in circles. What people really want is a fright-filled, psychological thriller. Unfortunately, what they get is a semi-weaved, unintentional comedy, complete with scene after scene of Nicholas Cage running through the forest.

Charaters. Edward Malus, Cage's character, is unbelievable at best. We watch as his character goes from bored to moody, then confused and frustrated, and finally mad to angry. In well-written drama the protagonist needs to make a journey, mainly it's a journey of self-discovery, to become better or worse and to have the ability to change if need be. The only journey Malus makes is physically traveling from place to place, whether he is riding a bike, flying in a plane, swimming or running around the island. He never really makes any progress on the plot of finding his daughter.

The rest of the cast is almost practically insignificant; most characters only have bit parts and are only on screen long enough to talk in circles, lie and then drop what appears to be a hint of a vague clue, that makes not only Cage's character frustrated but also the audience. I felt like someone being left out of the loop, and that frustrated me too.

Bottom Line. The Wicker Man is an uninteresting bore-fest of watching Cage run around the island making no progress for about an hour of the film, highlighted by Cage punching out a couple of female co-stars. The movie is full of so many holes, loopholes and red herrings to make just about any movie buff respond, "What-the-F--."

Rating. The film is Rated PG-13 for Language, Violence, and Disturbing Images.

Ryan's Movie Picks. Instead of wading though The Wicker Man catch some of these other Nicholas Cage movies that are sure to please.

The Rock. Nicholas Cage plays a bomb expert, and with the help of Sean Connery infiltrates Alcatraz to stop a worn-out General played by Ed Harris from releasing a deadly nerve agent over San Francisco.

Face/Off. John Travolta a Federal agent assumes the identity of a terrorist, Nicholas Cage, to find info into his organization in this stylistic trill-a-minute, cat and mouse film directed by John Woo.

Con Air. Nicholas Cage an ex-US Ranger, after serving time in prison for killing a man while protecting his wife is being released on parole. Cage and various other inmates are being transferred to another prison aboard the prison transport The Jailbird. During the flight, Cyrus, an inmate hijacks the plane. The film is wonderful and has a great supporting cast of John Malkovich, and John Cusack.


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