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Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Cage’

This was not the best introduction to the Pang Brothers.

I really felt at a loss to describe Bangkok Dangerous.   The plot and ending are so loaded with cliches, it’s almost as though the screenwriters constructed a movie solely out of tired, over-used devices.   The directing is adequate, although the blue filter applied to some of the scenes gets old fast.   The primary problem with Bangkok Dangerous is Nicolas Cage.

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I have a bit of a soft-spot for Cage.   My theory is that Cage got his Academy Award and then set about purposefully destroying all critical acclaim he had.   I think Cage makes bad movies on purpose.   This, however, doesn’t explain the horrible performance he turns in.

Normally, Cage likes to overact.  I can appreciate this.  It’s broad, it’s bold and it takes guts to act like that, even if it turns out to be ridiculous.

This one, however, Cage doesn’t act like much of anything.   He stares at fixed points, his face unmoving and mask-like, while he monotonously narrates unnecessary voice-overs.   Since he plays an assassin, you’d think he’d want to blend into his surroundings, but his hair is so bad you wonder when Nic Cage stopped bathing and stopped cutting his hair.   Said frightening hairdo is the most interesting thing about his entire character.  Considering this is Nicolas Cage, he of the “why is it burned?  WHY IS IT BURNED?!” fame, I am not quite sure what was going on.  Did someone give Nic elephant tranquilizers?  Was he under constant hypnosis?   Did he forget he was filming a movie?

I don’t know.   It does feel depressing that Cage is so not there that creating facial expressions seems to cause him real pain.  What sort of crazy mixed up world is this?

I watched this movie twice.  It felt like an eternity.   I’d take a pleasant, friendly visit from some Cenobites over a rewatch.

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It’s hard for me to hate on Nic Cage.

Seriously, I have a lot of love for the man.   I think it stems from the fact that Cage wasn’t going to settle for a merely mediocre film career; goddammit, if he was going to be bad, he was going to be the worst of the very worst.   He would make movies like Bangkok Dangerous and Next sheerly for the awful factor because he already got his damn Academy Award, so why not excel in the other direction?   (This, at least, is what I tell myself when I curl up with a Nicolas Cage movie on a Saturday night.)

There is something intangible, something nominally endearing about Cage that I just can’t shake.  Even when he’s at his worst, I just kind of shake my head.  “Oh, Nicolas,” I mentally say and I carry on.  Any other actor would cause a disgusting stream of invective to exit my mouth, but not Cage.   Oh, no.   And why, I’ve never really become quite certain.   Cage just makes bad movies, and I just watch them and giggle, and we both carry on like things are right in the world.

You know.

So The Wicker Man is no exception.   I know I should be RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT that they remade this one.  The original was uber-cool and featured bad-ass Christopher Lee, so remaking it – the sense it does not make.   But this is Nicolas Cage World and we don’t ask questions there, because the answers we would get in Nicolas Cage World make little to no sense.

The movie itself is somewhat faithful to the original; man gets on this creepy island, searching for a lost little girl and at the end discovers he’s intended for a ritual sacrifice because the island’s inhabitants follow some old-school pagan religion.   Did I spoil you?   Oops.   Oh, well.

the-wicker-man

It’s hard for me to lump this in the same category as Ax ‘Em or Midnight Skater simply because this movie brings horrible, disgusting, unintentional hilarity at every turn.  And thanks to YouTube, you can see them all compiled here:

NOT THE BEES!  NOT THE BEEEEEEEEES!  AHHHHHHHH!

I’d say the only thing that kind of disturbs me about this version of The Wicker Man is the change made to make the society a “Celtic pagan” community where women are the utter psychos, rather than an island of women and men.   It makes my feminist-ire bone tickle in a funny way, to tell you the truth.

Cage is a fount of hysterics.   He’s a master of awful cinema.   And so, while I admit The Wicker Man is truly horrific, while it’s nothing like the original, while it is nothing like what it set out to be…I laughed far more than I have at other straight-up comedies.

And for all you Cage haters?  The ending scenes are worth it for you.   Watching Cage’s bones get shattered and then, presumably, watching him burn to death will more than satisfy your vengeful bloodlust for movies like Guarding Tess and Con Air.

If you’re renting the DVD, be aware; the filmmakers did away with the original ending and tacked on an “alternate ending”.  I spent my final viewing experience pissed off because you have no option to view the original theatrical ending like you do on most DVDs.  Why am I pissed?   Because apparently I missed thirty or so seconds of James Franco, who was in the original theatrical ending.  NOW THAT would’ve made The Wicker Man infinitely better, because James Franco is hot and I am nothing if not terrifically shallow.

Oh, Nicolas.  What WON’T you do?

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Oh, good God.

Talk about formulaic.

Seriously, the acts are virtually the same, just with different little puzzles and similar parts. It’s like watching the first movie, but not. I certainly don’t mean that in a good way, quite frankly.

I can imagine the meeting of the minds on this one:

Jerry Bruckheimer: Okay, guys – what did we not cover in the last National Treasure movie?

Nicolas Cage: Ooh, the Civil War!

Crazy Jon Voight: That’s right! We didn’t talk about the Civil War at all!

Jerry Bruckheimer: Hmm, I like where this is going. Throw some buzzwords at me. Give me some ideas, gentlemen.

Nicolas Cage: Abraham Lincoln!

Crazy Jon Voight: John Wilkes Boothe!

Nicolas Cage: Mount Rushmore!

Crazy Jon Voight: Queen VICTORIA!

Nicolas Cage: PARIS!

Jerry Bruckheimer: I like all this, I like it. I think it’s going to be hot, gentlemen. Let’s just work all this into a script and see what we get.

Someone needs to have an intervention with Nic Cage. And by “intervention”, I mean, “stop him for his own good”, because heavens to Betsy, my instinctual reaction to someone’s face should not be to cower under the chair in terror and scream “Dear GOD, what is that THING?!” When I first saw Cage, my first reaction was some pseudo pearl-clutching followed by “…What’s wrong with his hair? No, really…what’s wrong with his hair?” He looks disgusting. I don’t just mean in the stinky, looks like he could use a shower or ten kind of department, although that’s part of it. He looks like he’s about to be slapped on an embalmer’s table somewhere after his liver’s exploded during a rough weekend in Vegas.

So, Ben Gates is back – and this time, he and Riley are in all sorts of trouble. Riley owes a ton of back taxes to the government after a shady accountant does him wrong; Ben has lost Abigail after a rocky relationship. Then a odd character comes forth, stating that he has the missing page of John Wilkes Boothe’s diary, implicating a family member of Ben’s in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Of course, Ben and his father are determined to clear their family member’s name, but the shady character (Ed Harris) is using Ben to help him find a treasure. (Are you shocked yet? No? Really?!)

The problem is that National Treasure 2 is the exact same movie as the first. Literally you can pretty much track the second from the first, right down to the discoveries timed simultaneously, Riley offering up pertinent information at exactly the right time, hidden compartments, etc. It feels like an odd sense of déjà vu watching this one, because it feels like it’s the same movie, but it’s not.

You kind of have to mentally shake yourself a bit to remember that you didn’t accidentally take too much NyQuil or something when you weren’t looking.

Jon Voight is so remarkably atrocious in this. He’s playing the doddering old fool, but he’s Jon Voight, so he’s a little crazy to begin with. And add in the fact that it looks like someone gave him a strong sedative before sending him to film his parts and you have a slightly stunted, completely slow looking performance.

What in the hell was Helen Mirren doing in this movie? And could Ed Harris have phoned it in even more? Both of them look like they’re slightly dazed all the way through it, as if they’re trying to mentally communicate, “Bruckheimer hypnotized me and forced me to be in this movie; send help. For the love of God, send help”. Ed Harris isn’t very convincing as a bad guy, mainly because he doesn’t do that much bad stuff, and I think it’s practically a contract stipulation with Harris that if you write him in as a villain, he must have a “conscience” or whatever that thing’s called that gives you a moral compass – or at least a damn good reason for doing whatever the character’s doing.

Even at the end, the discovery of the “treasure” is so cheap – because you know from the start exactly how it’s going to happen because you watched the first movie already (probably). The first movie was a fun cheese-tastic kind of thrill ride, and this one falls flat, mainly because you already know what twists and turns are coming for you right around the bend.

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Guys, I have to make a terrible confession. Have you wondered all these years why Nicolas Cage has a film career? It’s me, people, it’s all me. I’m the sole moviegoer keeping Cage in business. It’s sad to admit, but my name is Caitlin and I’m addicted to bad Nicolas Cage action flicks. (Right now, Fletch over at Blog Cabins is probably booking a plane ticket to come beat me senseless.)

John Travolta plays Sean Archer, a determined, hardworking FBI agent determined to bring down the vicious criminal that killed his son, a certain Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage). After finally bringing him down, the FBI discovers that there’s still one last dastardly plot Castor has dreamed up that he’s already set in motion and there’s only one ridiculously outlandish way to save the day. Sean Archer must have his face switched with Castor Troy. Insult to injury, I should think, but of course! Sean Archer is a total Boy Scout, so he has to do the right thing — at the further expense of everything he holds dear and true. What a hero, right?

There’s really no other way to describe this movie than absurdly over the top. Castor’s brother is named Pollux (haha, get it?); Nicolas Cage starts out the movie by planting some sort of crazy bomb in a convention center dressed as a priest of all things and carrying gold plated guns; the prison in this movie is something you have to see to believe. It’s a quasi-futuristic place with robotic, magnetic boots that control the prison population that’s located on an oil rig looking place in the middle of the ocean. So…yeah. It looks like a fun place to spend an eternity and a half, right? Kinda bleak, kinda depressing, kinda isolated. It’s party city up there.

Meanwhile, while Sean’s taken Castor’s place in prison to get information out of the neurotic, nerdy Pollux, the real Castor wakes up without a face, which would probably really ruin anyone’s day. Pissing off the psycho nutjob and taking his face? Not a good idea. So Castor goes…a little nutso and takes Sean Archer’s face, leading to a nice little switcheroo that screws everyone up. Well, not until after he gets a new face lasered on and kills everyone remotely involved with the face-transplanting.

There’s a reason Nic Cage excels at playing neurotic and/or insane, psychotic characters. I personally speculate that Mr. Cage might be a little cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, if you catch my drift, but I could be wrong. So when you throw old NIcolas a curveball — say, playing a straightlaced, normal guy that’s out of his league — he doesn’t know what else to do with it than ridiculously, shamefully overplay it. Here? He doesn’t disappoint.

The scene where Archer wakes up with Castor’s face is nearly priceless. You’d better not be drinking anything while watching it or whatever liquid you’re imbibing is going straight up your nose. Cage has a completely unbelievable freak-out attack that’s beyond description, complete with stupid facial mugging, some of the most forced, fake crying I’ve ever heard, and ridiculous cries of “Eff you, eff you!” thrown at his superiors as he breaks a mirror. It’s like angst overload, Nicolas Cage style which basically means Cage plays it like a thirteen year old girl would play it. Academy Award winner right there, folks.

Cage quite simply can’t play it straight to save his life. When you’re making John Travolta, king of the unintentionally comic overacting, look downright Oscar-worthy, it’s pretty bad. Travolta does play a rather despicable bad guy. I love watching Travolta play bad dudes because he hams it up just enough instead of taking the Cage route, which is kind of like watching a monkey on speed chase a banana for hours on end.

The rest of the film is devoted to the two taking bizarre, strange means to get their respective faces back, culminating in a final battle of good versus evil with the trademark John Woo hallmarks splashed in.

So…after having gone through all the bad, why do I like this movie so darn much?

To tell you the truth, I’m really not quite sure. Perhaps it’s the scene where Nicolas Cage dances around as a priest and sings with a kid’s choir after planting a bomb that will destroy Los Angeles; perhaps it’s just the general feeling of “it’s so bad it becomes awesome” that pervades the movie; perhaps it’s the random Joe Bob Briggs cameo (Aww, Joe Bob! I miss Monstervision on TNT!).

Even if it wasn’t intended to be what it is, Face/Off’s a cheesy action flick that for some odd reason, never gets old. It stays awesomely bad and is just as funny the first time as the last time you see it.

After years of having seen it, even Nicolas Cage’s vamping doesn’t get old — and that’s saying something.

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