It's a lot easier to say that a film, which has stood the test of time, as well as gained a strong backbone of fans, can never, and should never be remade. However it is a lot harder to swallow your pride and see for yourself. The most pleasant way to view this predicament, is to think of these remakes as the only way for a great story to reach a younger audience who deserve to see a cracking good film. With little hope of them digging through old video collections, or purchasing the over-priced 2-disc DVD, we can only assume its easier for them to sit back and enjoy a modern revision through a lens they understand.
The new film to try and do this is "The Wicker Man' starring Nicolas Cage and Ellen Burstyn. Based on the 1973 British cult classic of the same title, the film looks to blatantly Americanise the original story of a police officers search for a missing girl, on an island inhabited by locals who follow a mysterious religion. The investigation is set under way, and our protagonist uncovers a strange trail of lies, which leads to a truly bold climax of cinematic horror and deception.
Various changes to the script are made off course like most remakes and for the first 25 minutes this plays out well. The changes will be noticeable to those familiar with the story, the most obvious one being that director Neil Labute sets his scene in America just off an Island in the state of Washington, as apposed to the original taking place on an Island in Scotland.
Nicolas Cage does his best as the eager police officer, and his enthusiasm for the role overflows to a degree where he really leads blind to how awful this film really is. Ellen Burstyn is convincing as the town leader and you can't argue that she was a bad choice for this new idea. She adds her own contrasting approach to a very different film, and it's a relief to see another person who can act in the picture, even if you are scratching your head wondering why she signed on for it in this first place.
Tragically this film has nothing else going for it, and the director falls flat when it comes to directing his supporting cast, which was the key to successfully misleading the audience in the 73' version. Your left feeling angry and unfulfilled at how a decent character could be mislead so easily and unrealistically in this contemporary world, and this is a character played by a good actor no less. An actor who also thought it'd be a good idea to co-produce this abysmal calamity of film. As a stand-alone film this movie has a lot to answer for, which it really has no power or will to do so. As a remake of an oldie, you'll be injected with frequent spontaneous moments of discomfort and queasiness in amounts guaranteed ruin any film fans evening.
The only way to deal with this feeling is to head down to your local retailer and snatch the closest copy of Robin Hardy's version if you haven't already seen it. For those already in possession of the film, hold it tight and ease your suffering as you sit down to watch it one more time. Both choices will make you realize how a remake has pushed you to love the original even more so unintentionally. Well at least it's good for something. Are such statements too harsh?? I think not. Find out for yourself and don't say I didn't warn you.