[from September 2, 2006]
If you want to see The Wicker Man, I'd highly recommend seeing the original 1973 version with Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward instead (warning: lots of obligatory 1970s nekkidness). This new version is an interesting exercise in subverting the premise of the original. I loved the idea of making Summersisle a more matriarchal society, and the metaphor of the bees is particularly cool. However, some of the scenes made me think the movie needed a beta reader. Even worse is the very "glued on" romance angle - Nicolas Cage and Kate Beahan couldn't have less chemistry if they tried, and they just seem like two dolls that the filmmakers are playing with and saying "Okay, you love her, you love him, now kiss."
But the climax - OMG so bad. Maybe part of it is that it's so close to the original (except for an added twist that I sort of liked) and I was expecting most of what happened. The original does such a great job of building the tension and delivering a payoff that just guts you. This version, while doing a pretty good job of building the tension, throws it all out the window with a highly ridiculous conclusion. It's not the Big Reveal itself that's a failure - it's the way the movie presents it. The emotions are wrong, and there's some really weird voice-over stuff. People in the audience were actually laughing.
So yeah, if you're interested in The Wicker Man, check out the 1973 version.