Matt Watches Bad Movies: The Wicker Man (Unrated Version) (2006)

Posted by Matthew on February 03, 2013
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Wicker Man

Last week I was disappointed that the movie I watched wasn’t that bad.

Wait, no, the opposite of that. I was happy to watch a movie that wasn’t that bad. Since this is a column about bad movies though it didn’t really work in my favour and this week I may have over compensated slightly. Continuing with the Nic-Cage-A-Thon we’re watching the terrible 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. So let’s dive right in, shall we?

The film opens in rural America. Big mountains and big sky. Nic is a high patrol cop, and he’s an asshole about it. The words “Do you know why I pulled you over?” drip disdain every time they show him giving someone a ticket in the opening montage. Eventually a kid throws her doll out the window of the station she’s riding in. Nic picks it up and pull them over to give it back. The asshole kid IMMEDIATELY throws it back out. The mother tries to apologize as Nic goes to pick it up again, sighing as he contemplates the hell that is his life, a semi truck FUCKING CREAMS the station wagon. Nic tries to save them, screaming in casual disinterest as he does, but the car explodes and he passes out (presumably from attempting to emote).

An indeterminate amount of time later we catch up with Nic sitting at home in a sweatsuit which i sa clear indicator of the production value of this movie. He’s visited by one of his highway cop friends and she appears to be played by some sort of robot whose emotion setting is permanently stuck on “awkward”.

She has brought him get well soon cards from his colleagues and a letter that came for him. The letter is from his ex saying that her daughter is missing and begging for help in the most melodramatic yet emotionless tone ever.

I’m pretty sure Niel LaBute’s direction in this part of the movie was “ok, say it like it doesn’t actually matter” because no one has been able to convey any kind of real emotion so far.

Against all the advice of anyone in a position to give him advice Nic decides to go to help his ex. She lives on a small island in the pacific northwest in some kind of hippy commune. Nic takes a Ferry from the midwest to coast, and then finds a pilot to take him to the commune island. The conversation between Nic and the pilot goes something like this:

Nic: I need to go to the island

Pilot: No, they don’t like visitors and I don’t want to upset or disturb them

Nic: But I need to go to the island!

Pilot: No, they value their privacy and I respect that. I have a relationship with them developed over years and years I don’t want to jeopardize that.

Nic: How about if I give you 20 bucks?


Nic gets dropped off on the beach because when you’re flying a seaplane around a small island that’s stealthy and on his way to the village he runs into a group of women. He introduces himself and asks about the missing girl. They are doing their best not to laugh at him but it’s not really working. They can’t even make eye contact with him, the jerks. Two men then walk up carrying a canvas sack which clearly has something alive inside it struggling to get out and bleeding profusely. He asks to see what’s inside and they say no, he flashes his badge and demands so they open the bag and when he reaches for it it jerks and splatters blood and he just walks away and they laugh at him.

Wait, what the fuck just happened? He’s investigating foul play and doesn’t look in the bag that dripping copious amounts of blood? I guess that’s why he’s a highway patrol cop and not a detective.

Next he checks into the local inn which is run by a larger, but clearly older and outdated robot. It’s here we meet his ex. Her name is Poutyface McNoncommittal. She appears alternately perfectly happy and incredibly scared. It’s a rather acute form of Bi-Polar disorder.

Nic starts investigating. He meets the school teacher and she is having her kids torture a bird and also learn about how men are evil. Pretty awkward when Nic walks in. People are avoiding Nic questions and he’s slowly getting crazier and crazier. He sees the teacher again but she’s a different person in a different place and denies ever having spoken to him, for example. He also sees a pair of old blind twin ladies who speak in unison for some reason.

Eventually he gets stung by a bee and nearly dies because he’s allergic. I should probably mention, the main source of cash on this island is honey. That is, it’s basically a massive honey farm. Which is full of bees. And he’s allergic to bees. Again, highway cop, not a detective.

Anyway, he’s revived and meets the creepy old lady in charge. He asks her questions and she talks a lot but doesn’t answer.

That pretty much describes the next whole act of the movie. He asks questions and people avoid him or don’t give him any real answers and Nic goes crazier and crazier. It also becomes clear that men are second class citizens on the island. Held captive and abused by the women and only used for breeding.

He keeps wandering the island in despair, seeing the creep twins AGAIN and the corpse of the pilot who flew him to the island. The women killed him because no one would miss him on the mainland, right? I mean it’s not like he lives in a town or has a pilots license to renew or anything.

Eventually he figures out that the missing girl is both his daughter and about to be sacrificed to the gods to bring back the honey because there was a poor harvest the year before and a sacrifice to the old gods will bring it back. Oh, and did I menton that the women are pagans who worship ancient celtic gods? That becomes pretty clear what with the whole sacrifice. thing.

Nic then completely snaps and goes on a rampage. He goes to the inn and punches the elderly robot in the face so hard she shuts down. He steals her bear costume, yes, they dress as animals for the big sacrifice, and when everyone gets to the sacrifice site he runs up and punches a bunch more people takes the girl and runs. They come to a field and everyone is waiting for him. Surprise! You’re the sacrifice Nic! What a twist!

And everything goes off the rails. They brek his legs, put a mask on his head and fill it full of bees and then hoist him up into the head of a giant wicker effigy and the little missing girl sets it on fire and he burns to death.

This movie is fuckign absurd. In fact, I think it might have been an exercise in absurdist art except that they forgot to tell us about it. It’s almost like the film is from the persective of Nic’s character but this is just how he percieves things and he has some kind of metal health issues, paranoia, depression or schizophrenia, that causes his perception of events to become completely crazy.

It’s the only explanation for how everyone treats him in the film, either with kid gloves or with open “oh aren’t you just precious” condescension. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even worth watching for the scenes of Nic losing his shit that have gone on to be internet memes (see “how’d it get burned” and “not the bees!“). In fact, watch those two clips. Not only have you just sen everything worth seeing in this film, you get an idea of the level of acting in the film. It’s not so much “Academy Award” material as it is “12 year Old Playing Make Believe” material. How it made it into cinemas is beyond me.

Bottom line? Strictly avoid. This is the worst movie I’ve seen yet.

Rating: 0/10

Matt Watches Bad Movies is a weekly feature in which Matt watches a bad film so you don’t have to. If you have suggestions of something terrible you’ve seen, or haven’t seen but are morbidly curious about, feel free to tell me about it in the comments or via twitter @posterboy81

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Matt Watches Bad Movies: Knowing

Posted by Matthew on January 27, 2013
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The Nic-Cage-A-Thon continues this week with another recent pick, 2009’s Knowing. How does Nic react to knowing the future? Let’s jump right in and find out!

It’s 1959 and we’re in your typical 1950s elementary school classroom. The teacher tells the kids that they are making a time capsule and the kids go APESHIT. Makes me long for childhood again, because i don’t get that excited about anything anymore. The kids then start working on drawing for the time capsule, except the creepy little girl who had the idea in the first place, she starts writing numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. The teacher then takes away the creepy girl’s paper before she can finish writing. It must be frustrating for the teacher because the creepy girl clearly has some form of autism and this is the 1950s so no one knows or cares what that is.

Fast forward to 2009 and the time capsule is being opened. Nic’s kid is of course the one who receives the crazy numbers because if he didn’t we wouldn’t have a plot at all. We couldn’t very well have Nic seeing the numbers in someone else’s hands and then stealing them from said kid. Although, that might be kind of hilarious.

Oh, and Nic is an astrophysicist. Remember that for later.

At home it’s revealed that Nic is an exhausted alcoholic single father and his kid is a deaf in the way where he can hear fine without a hearing aid. The kid has taken the numbers home and Nic gets angry and sends him to bed. Nic proceeds to get drunk and after a few hours spent watching television and wallowing in self loathing he takes a look at the numbers. He clears off a bulletin board and writes out a random group of the numbers and stares at it blankly for a few moments before realizing “hey, the first digits from this group is a the date, September 11th 2001 and then there’s four more digits!” Then he searches those numbers on the web and guess what? That’s how many people were killed on September 11th 2001.

So just for the record, he grabbed a random number grouping and they happened to turn out to be Sept 11th 2001. Of course they did, because America.

As a side note, I think it would have been funny if the numbers turned out to be written internationally and had turned out to be about the 9th of November.

So this goes on all night. Searching groups of numbers and finding disasters that correspond. He must have an uncanny knowledge of disasters as well, since he leaves big strings of numbers between each of the groupings he’s circled. If it were me I’d just see lots of numbers, but he’s managed to zero in on every relevant grouping like he’s fucking rain man or something.

And so the big mystery is set in motion. He goes to visit the teacher from 1959 and she turns out to be an alcoholic as well. She offers him tea, but only offers the gin to herself, and tells him about the creepy little girl who wrote the numbers and how she wrote more numbers on a door.

Meanwhile creepy albino people give his kid a black rock because, you know, reasons. Shortly after Nic’s sister shows up and is all concerned and he blows her off.

In another alcohol fuelled evening he figures out that the numbers he hasn’t circles are locations and that he’s basically at the location of the next disaster on the list. He drives to where the next disaster might be and there’s a massive traffic jam. He assume that he must be there and goes to ask someone what’s going on who gets about half way through saying “everything is fine” before a fucking plane crashes right into the traffic jam.

When he gets home he’s still in shock and tells everyone off and, I presume, starts drinking.

While he’s doing that the creepy albino people and show his kid a vision of the world ending. Fire, brimstone, animals running and on fire. Hell it looks like the air is on fire. It’s actually pretty a disturbing to show to a kid. Hell, it’s a disturbing scene to show me. When the kid starts crying Nic comes a-runnin’ and then runs outside after the creepy albino people yelling “you want some of this!” which is hilarious.

Now he’s still looking for more information on the numbers so he stalks the little girl who wrote them on the web. Finds a photo and it’s totally Rose Byrne. He then finds the girls daughter, also Rose Byrne, and stalks her in real life at a museum. Don’t ask me how he knew she’d be there because it’s not explained as far as I remember.

He manages to get her to come to lunch and then right off the bat starts asking all kinds of crazy questions, in that way that only Nic Cage can, about whether her mother had some kind of ability or if she was an albino with light coming out of her mouth and Rose Byrne runs away in response. This makes sense.

He then buys a gun, because America. Also because the creepy albinos are still watching the house.

At night he figures out the next place there’s going to be a disaster and since it’s New York City he calls the FBI and tells them a bomb is going to go off. He then dumps off his kid with his sister and goes to New York and when he gets there goes right up to a cop asking why they aren’t doing anything, to which the cop replies “Actually we’re waiting for a crazy guy who phoned in a bomb threat and …. wait, what did you say?”

Before the cop can finish Nic is running away and there’s more cops running after him. He dives into a subway station and for some reason starts chasing a purse snatcher. Every cop in New York is now chasing Nic (and they all recognize him on sight somehow) while he chases a purse snatcher. I guess he thinks that the purse snatcher is a terrorist, and in a way he is, but before we can have a serious debate about the matter a subway train derails and crashes through the station and kills everyone except Nic and a few cops.

That’s right, terrorism was just a red herring.

Rose Byrne is back now. Says the last day on the list is the day that her mother told her she’d die. Now everyone is in a car and they are going…. somewhere. Nic tries to sound deep as he talks about his wife dying and losing his faith but it doesn’t really work.

Turns out they were going to investigate Rose Byrne’s moms house, which is creepy as fuck. Trailer in the middle of nowhere and all kinds of conspiracy theory wall clutter of articles and photos and biblical references and such. Rose Byrne also points out that the last two digits aren’t 33 they are EE, and knows that that means “Everyone Else.” Dun Dun Dun. Wait, how did she know that?

Meanwhile in the unattended car the Albino people come to see the kids who are waiting patiently. Nic runs off into the creepy as fuck forest (and I think that’s the actual name of said forest) and when he catches up to one of the albinos the Albino turns around and belches light.

If you haven’t figured out the big twist at the end yet then this should serve as a pretty big clue.

It’s also at this point that the movie starts becoming the Crazy Nic Cage show. Fucking finally. No one does crazy the way that Nic Cage does crazy.

Nic the astrophysicist (remember, he’s an astrophysicist) finally starts cluing in that the sun might be a problem. They’ve been having record heat waves and cell phones don’t reliably work but it takes something the kid says for everyone to go “oh, the sun might blow up and kill us all.”

Everyone gets together in the car and drives off. Nic has a plan, but isn’t telling anyone what it is because, you know, reasons. He’s acting crazy and Rose Byrne is freaking out but rather than explain so that everyone would understand and be calm he just keeps stonewalling.

He’s going for the door that the last numbers got scratched onto so he’ll know where to go to save them, but since he’s acting fucking crazy and Rose Byrne is freaked out she drives away with the kids. She stops for gas and sees an emergency broadcast that says “the damage from the sun will be worse than we thought.” which is weird since we haven’t heard anything from anyone about the sun until the kid pointed it out 5 minutes ago.

At the same time the Albinos steal the kids and leave more of the rocks because of reasons. Rose Byrne steals a jeep to go after them and when she runs a red light she gets fucking creamed by a semi truck. No one could survive that. Nic shows up and sees her and she has survived. He the goes for the kids but she’s not with him because I guess she did die? It’s not really clear.

He gets to where the kids are and it’s a flat field full of the same rocks the albinos have been handing out like candy. Turns out they’re aliens (what a twist!) with what’s actually a pretty cool space ship.

They take the kids, but not Nic, to restart the human race. I don’t really see why they had to wait until the day the world ends to do this since it’s clear at this point that they are responsible for the numbers which means they knew about this happening at least 50 years in advance.

As the albino aliens take the kids away they turn into their natural less creepy form which is made of light and has wings and a .. halo.. around their… wait, they’re aliens and they’re angels? Good thing it’s not too heavy handed a reference.

Nic is now crying like only Nic Cage can. He passes out from it in fact and then wakes up at dawn to a world gone crazy. He drives through the center of town with Beethoven’s 7th playing. He gets to his parents house, they have a little reconciliation which includes the most awkward group hug in the world, and then the world ends as the sun explodes.

Cut to the kids playing in a field of terrible CGi grass on their new planet. Yay.

You know, this wasn’t actually as bad as I was expecting. Sure, the plot is a bit predictable at times but it’s actually a creepy creepy movie. In fact I think Nic Cage overacting might be it’s biggest failing other than a story that has so many convenient coincidences I’m surprised that one set of the numbers didn’t win anyone the lotto.

I can’t say as I recommend watching this, but if you’re going to choose a bad Nic Cage movie this one isn’t a bad one to go with.

Rating: 5/10

Matt Watches Bad Movies is a weekly feature in which Matt watches a bad film so you don’t have to. If you have suggestions of something terrible you’ve seen, or haven’t seen but are morbidly curious about, feel free to tell me about it in the comments or via twitter @posterboy81

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Matt Watches Bad Movies: Next

Posted by Matthew on January 20, 2013
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Oh Nicholas Cage, you wily rascal you. You have made some great movies in your time, but you’ve also made a whole bunch that I’ll be talking about for the next few weeks here in Matt Watches Bad Movies in what I’m calling my Nic-Cage-A-Thon!

Next, made in 2007, is based on a Philip K. Dick story, which is kind of amazing because it’s so bad when Philip K. Dick stories are usually so good. Then you find out how much they changed it all makes sense. Coles notes version of that story is that they changed basically everything except the ability to see into the future, which they also changed from being able to foresee the outcome to decisions.

So calling it “based on a Philip K. Dick story” makes as much sense as calling it “based on that book Snooki wrote”.

Next starts in Las Vegas where Nic –I’ll be referring to him as Nic for all of these, because they clearly take place in the same bizarro universe– is a shitty magician. But wait, it’s just an act, he’s a shitty magician to hide the fact that he can see 2 minutes into the future.

I’m not going to make a sex joke with that. Too easy.

At Nic’s show is gorgeous ginger government agent. She has figured out that he has some weird powers and is trying to figure it out. Nic goes from the show to a casino where they immediately think he’s counting cards. He figures out that they are coming for him, fucking tips them off by looking right at a camera, and leaves the table.

He’s able to escape because he’s in a casino and there’s tons of other people around to hide behind, and also the security team is full of idiots. He even steals some poor guy’s hat! Jackass! He gets to the cashier and has a vision of the most conveniently timed robbery in history (also, who robs a casino in vegas by taking a gun to the cashier? That makes no sense) stops it, has a standoff with casino security, and leaves.

Then he just walks out of the casino and steals a car to make his getaway. Note, to this point he’s technically done nothing illegal. Except stealing that hat. And hitting that guy. Anyway, he leaves and the police are there to chase him immediately. He makes zips in and out of traffic knowing what’s going to happen and then at the last second tries to get across some train tracks before a speeding train goes by but gets creamed by it instead AND THE MOVIE IS OVER YAY!!

Oh wait, that was a vision. Now we see literally exactly the same things happen except this time he beats the train. But he didn’t do anything different. He just made it this time. Ugh.

He drives the stolen car into his own fucking garage and then has a pretty forced conversation with Columbo, who is his father? Uncle? Manservant? It’s not really clear, but since Columbo is only in this one scene it doesn’t really matter. More on that later.

Gorgeous Ginger Government Agent shows up and they talk and then that turns out to be a vision too and he leaves before she shows up. The whole vision thing is getting really annoying.

He makes it to a diner where, at 8am he orders a martini and waits for 12 year old Jessica Biel. Apparently he’s had some vision that’s “way beyond the usual 2 minutes” about her.

Not turning that one into a sex joke either.

She walks in followed by her douchebag boyfriend. Nic goes through several iterations of trying to figure out how to make this underaged girl like him and it turns out the winning try is letting the boyfriend punch him in the face. I kind if wish the boyfriend would stick around to do that more, but he doesn’t. He leaves because of, you know, reasons.

So Nic and Baby Jessica make a connection and she offers him a ride (again, no sex joke) and they end up at a motel together where they totally have a moment and then have sex, which should be a joke since he looks like he’s about 50 and she looks 12, but isn’t. It happens. Mostly off screen thank dog.

In the morning Gorgeous Ginger Government Agent has a big plan to get Nic but he jumps off a cliff instead, and then does a dramatic turn to the left to avoid a sniper bullet, and then saves her life.

In return, she puts him in a chair in a windowless room with clamps holding his eyes open and networks news on TV. Cruel and unusual punishment, I think they call that. He sees ahead to the terrorists…

Oh yeah, there’s terrorists after him too, did I mention that? Not that it matters, they are even more inept than the government in this film. They have a nuke and they want to use it, Gorgeous Ginger Government Agent is trying to stop them and that’s why she’s been after him. This is actually a pretty big plot point, but it literally doesn’t matter, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.

So he fast forwards to the terrorists killing Young Jessica and he agrees to help without the clamps.

From this point it becomes pretty much “SWAT team taking directions from Nic” as he guides them in fighting the terrorists. They save the girl and go to the docks where there is a huge shoot out and then just when you think the day is safe Nic says “oh no I made mistake! I MADE A MISTAKE!” and the bomb goes off and everyone s killed and the movie ends.

Except then we’re back at the motel with him and Young Jessica in bed still. Remember how he lasts longer with her than with anyone else? Well he can see farther into the future with her too (ok, I had to do it once, sue me).

He walks outside and meetsGorgeous Ginger and they ride off to fight the terrorists and the movie actually ends.

Pretty much the only thing this movie has going for it is Jessica Biel (who is, as usual, gorgeous) and Julianne Moore (who can do basically no wrong) but even they are hampered by the utterly ridiculous script. Nic Cage is at his lazy best here, delivering lines with energy that ranges from “asleep” to “casually disinterested”.

Hell, I left out a major plot point and it didn’t matter because in the end the whole movie is a big feint anyway. They could literally have gone back to frame one and … well that would have been a little less annoying actually, just end the movie by starting from scratch. And what was the point of Columbo being there? He wasn’t in peril to give Nic motivation and they didn’t come back to him at the happy ending, he was just there because they needed a reason to delay Nic for a few minutes.

Pointless. Just like the rest of the movie.

Be sure to check back next week when the MWBM Nic-Cage-A-Thon continues. What am I watching? Well, don’t put your guesses in a time capsule, there’s a perfectly good comment form to use.

Rating: 2/10 (1 for Jessica Biel, 1 for Julianne Moore, 2 for Philip K. Dick, -2 for Nicholas Cage)

Matt Watches Bad Movies is a weekly feature in which Matt watches a bad film so you don’t have to. If you have suggestions of something terrible you’ve seen, or haven’t seen but are morbidly curious about, feel free to tell me about it in the comments or via twitter @posterboy81

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