Director Neil LaBute's remake of "THE WICKER MAN" was generally panned by critics, but this one admits having liked it. While there are scenes that should've been edited, the overall disturbing climax, terrific atmosphere and acting recall the best of what '70s counter culture films had to offer. No, it's not a "THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR", or "MARATHON MAN", but in the sense that it runs far away from a typically last minute optimistic Hollywood ending, it's quite daring and deserves praise. Nicolas Cage stars as a cop, haunted by a tragic traffic accident in which he witnesses a little girl dying as he struggles, without success to free her from a horrible death.
Shortly afterward, a former girlfriend writes him, pleading with him to come to the far away/communication-locked island she lives on, in order to help find her missing child. What follows is a maze-like mystery, culminating in a disturbing ending that, while basically the same as in the original film, is no less disturbing for those familiar with it.
WARNER BROS. has provided the "Director's cut" version, which cuts off an extended, wasteful epilogue. This version offered on hd-dvd is far more powerful and haunting.
WARNER BROS. has provided a 1080p/VC-1 transfer with the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Colors are extremely rich throughout the film and the lush scenery, essential to the film's intentionally offsetting location, is perfectly captured here. Detail is outstanding throughout. The blacks and grays are deep, providing excellent depth in darker scenes. It's noticeably better than the dvd.
WARNER BROS. has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. While the technical opportunities inherent in TrueHD are welcome, the mix to "WICKER MAN" fails to take full advantage of it for most of the early part of the film. There are surround effects kicking in from time to time, however, most separation effects are delegated to the front soundstage. Bass and discrete effects pick up greatly during the final half and the music is extremely effective. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
The same commentary on the standard dvd has been carried over along with the film's trailer.