Category Archives: nicholas cage

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance ~ I’m in the minority. I’m one of the few people on Earth, other than Nicholas Cage, who liked the first Ghost Rider movie. There are folks who hate Cage, folks who disliked the mixing and matching of different Riders in it, and the campiness of it. I thought it worked. There was an earnestness that I liked, and honestly I’m not that well versed in GR continuity to argue those points. But I liked it.

When I heard Cage was making another one, I was pleased and couldn’t wait to see it. I mean, really, how bad could it be? Now months later I finally get to see it on DVD. Wow. I was wrong.

There are moments of animation throughout that have promise, but they are only moments and soon replaced by the plodding terrible acting of Cage and the rest of the cast. He can be good, but here he’s just phoning it in, long distance from a bad cell. Wow. Even terrific actors like Idris Elba and okay actors like Christopher Lambert are pulled down into this vortex of stink.

Even the special effect of a skull on fire is done badly here. Visually at least, this should have been as stunning as the first. The script is by David S. Goyer, so this is another craptacular for him to notch on his belt. When he’s good, he’s good, but when Goyer is bad… man oh man, is he bad. Avoid this flick.

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Ghost Rider Rides Again

Nicholas Cage returns as Ghost Rider in February. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens February 17th.

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ~ I am not a Nicholas Cage fan, and usually the words “starring Nicholas Cage” translate for me as ‘skip this film.’ I liked him in Leaving Las Vegas of course, and Wild at Heart, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he barely spoke, and I am probably one of the few folks who will admit to liking him in Ghost Rider – but for the most part, I think he’s crap. He’s a one note, one joke actor who got lucky with one or two roles and has a talented family to help him along, nothing more.

All that said, I really enjoyed his latest flick The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It’s a different kind of Disney vehicle. Rather than build a film around a ride a la Pirates of Caribbean, this time Jerry Bruckheimer and company have constructed a movie around an animated short from 1940’s Fantasia, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” starring Mickey Mouse. What at first, like the ride idea, sounds ridiculous actually comes off rather well. And surprisingly, the sequence in the film that reenacts the cartoon is one of the weakest, and yet still holds up.

This is a pretty simple and clichéd fantasy story. Merlin vs. Morgan le Fay in ancient times continues today on the streets of New York City with their seconds-in-command and their apprentices. Nicholas Cage is Merlin’s apprentice, charged with finding the next Merlin, Jay Baruchel, who just wants to impress his potential girlfriend who he’s crushed on since he was a kid. The relationship between Cage and Baruchel is a warm lock, like quarreling brothers who really do care about each other.

Alfred Molina, who is becoming more and more chameleon-like in Gary Oldman fashion, brings the heat as the bad guy. Tony Kebbell does a hilarious take on a Criss Angel-type magician. The girlfriend, Teresa Palmer, is kind of bland, but the rest of the cast makes up for it. And there is far too little Monica Bellucci. The special effects are top tier, and the ending is a bit predictable if you’re paying attention.

This was a pleasant surprise, might be intense in some places for the kids, but definitely family fare. Also look for hidden Mickeys and other references to the original cartoon. Lots of fun, recommended.

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Ass-Kicked

Kick-Ass ~ The name of this movie may be Kick-Ass, but as a viewer, I feel like I’ve been ass-kicked after seeing it.

Much like The Losers, this flick is based on a comic that I have never read. Neither of the creators, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., impress me much with their comics work (another reason I never read the comic), so I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. After seeing it, I think I’ll be avoiding the comic.

The story follows the concept of a ‘real world’ teenager who decides to become a superhero. No powers, no weird secret origin, just a mask, a wet suit and a couple sticks. He promptly hits the streets and gets his ass kicked, is stabbed, and is then run over by a car. From this point, all ‘real world’ aspects are out the window as the self-named Kick-Ass now has a bunch of metal braces in his bones and a serious lack of nerve endings. Scratch that no weird secret origin bit, I suppose.

Other super heroes manifest, or at least that’s how it appears. As the movie continues (and it does continue, and continue, and continue, for a solid almost intolerable two hours) a division arises between who we think the good guys and the bad guys are and who they really are. Black and white morality is not a hallmark of Kick-Ass.

Among the pseudo heroes is Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy and his eleven year-old daughter Hit-Girl, played actually quite well by thirteen year-old Chloe Grace Moretz. She’s a veteran actress even at her young age, and Nicholas Cage, well, Nicholas Cage walks around and collects a paycheck. His only real watchable moment is his bad Adam West impression while in costume. The rest is just terrible. I’m not as much a Cage-hater as some folks I know, but he really ruined every scene he was in in Kick-Ass.

Having never read the comic, there were plot elements that seemed out of place. The Red Mist seemed like a character that should have been a surprise rather than someone whom we knew about all along. It just seems like common sense from a writing point of view. But what do I know? Mark Millar is the guy who cloned Thor, apparently he can do no wrong in some comics fans’ eyes.

Speaking of comics, director Matthew Vaughn has just been tapped to direct the new X-Men movie, X-Men: First Class. How he got that gig after this one other than they are both comics movies is beyond me as I can’t see his style here lending itself at all to the X-Men franchise. After all, Astro Boy and A History of Violence are both comics movies – no thematic similarities there.

When the flick first came out, much was made of the violence and the swearing of the character Hit-Girl. This is very violent, and mercilessly so, with close-ups and slow-mos more traditional to horror gore rather than violent action flicks. I didn’t mind Hit-Girl’s swearing, or her killing almost everyone she sees – what bothered me was when at the end the older man, the big bad, gets the better of her toward the end of the movie. No matter how you slice it, it’s disturbing seeing a grown man beating a young girl.

The previews for Kick-Ass depict a comedy, and those comedic moments are still there, just you’ve already seen them in the previews. The voiceover narration by Kick-Ass is inspired when it appears but it doesn’t appear nearly enough to save this flick. This is just a bad movie, and made worse by Nicholas Cage’s phoned-in performance. He says he was paying homage to Adam West but it comes off more as mocking and bad acting. Give Kick-Ass a wide berth, and wait for it to come to free TV if you insist on seeing it.

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Astro Boy

Astro Boy ~ I guess I should have known better with this 2009 updating of the 1960s black and white cartoon beloved from my youth. And it’s a long way past the evolution of the animation too. The story seems wrong. The origin of Astro Boy is fairly intact, but it has the feel and the stench of both A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Wall-E when neither is really appropriate. It even has stronger ties to Pinocchio. Astro Boy is Astro Boy, let it be what it is, ya know?

The voice of Nicholas Cage as Dr. Tenma screams first and foremost as wrong. Wrong not just because it’s obvious that it’s him and his voice is inappropriate for the part, but because he displays little emotion in a role fraught with tragedy. It’s like he is reading words, not filling an image with his live personality. His ‘performance’ is a travesty.

The film also suffers from what most superhero movies of the past four decades do – the mandatory origin. Why can’t we just accept that this character exists, and then tell a good story? Did Indiana Jones have an origin? Did Jack Ryan? And even though I looove the recent film, did the crew of the Starship Enterprise? The movie is always half over, sometimes more, by the time we see our hero in his final hero form. It annoys me.

And speaking of hero form – why does Astro Boy have to be so politically correct and wear a shirt? Sorry, folks, but product recognition, in this case, character recognition, dictates that the product is recognizable to its fans. Astro Boy is topless. Deal with it. What’s next? A leisure suit for Tarzan? A mask and cape for Jason Bourne? Again, let Astro Boy be Astro Boy.

I waited for the DVD, even though I was very excited when I first heard they were making this. The first preview I saw had Nicholas Cage’s toneless deadpan voice, the shirted Astro Boy and a tender moment with a teenage girl, and it just turned me off. Now don’t get me wrong. This movie is not bad, it’s really quite good, great for the kids, and recommended so – but what it isn’t is a satisfying version of Astro Boy. Rent the DVDs of the original series – even higher recommendation.

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Quickies 8-3-2009

Imagine That ~ This is actually pretty good, imagine that. Unlike Adam Sandler who I really don’t care for, I like Eddie Murphy. Like Adam Sandler however, Eddie keeps making terrible films. When The Bride wanted to see this new one, I just groaned but went along just cuz I love her and all – but I was relatively sure I was not going to enjoy it. Surprise! And a pleasant one too. Imagine That is a feel-good little family film. It’s a tad predictable and requires a bit of that old suspension of disbelief from the adults, but still a lot of fun. Great Beatles cover soundtrack too.

American Zombie ~ A cool concept of a documentary made about zombies in a world where they have integrated into society. It moves swiftly from funny art school hi-jinks with a camera to Blair Witch-esque horror to conspiracy theories. Just when you think it’s run its course the film changes form like a basilisk. More intriguing and compelling than it deserves to be.

I Hate Valentine’s Day ~ More anti-chick flick chick flick entertainment from Nia Varadalos. She seems to excel on using the formula while bringing a new twist or touch to it. This one, written and directed by Nia, reunites her with My Big Fat Greek Wedding co-star John Corbett. Cliched but fun, definitely worth seeing.

Knowing ~ More of Nicholas Cage playing himself flawlessly in a one note flick. Unimpressive, despite the intriguing premise, but the disaster scenes are pretty cool though. It’s a shame the rest of the film doesn’t match up. For a movie about predicting the future, this was just waaay too predictable.

Pauly Shore Is Dead ~ Probably the best Pauly Shore film ever, period. Smarter and funnier than it should be – if only it had an ending.

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Sweeney and the Chipmunks

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ~ Now I loved the stage play, and the music and Angela Lansbury from that version so I had high expectations for this. And while I didn’t like it, it wasn’t for the reasons that all the other critics seemed to have. Even though I loved Ms. Lansbury, I really had no problem with Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett or her singing, or Johnny Depp’s for that matter. I thought they were just fine. The atmosphere, and the coloring (solidly Tim Burton) were just about on target and the opening is one of the best mood setters for a film I have seen in a long time. My problem is that Sondheim’s score, which is dark and vibrant, different and brilliant – all appears to be one long droning song in this thing, and one that almost never ends. I don’t know what Burton did to Sondheim’s work but it’s butchered in my opinion. The other main obstacle I see here is that Burton seemed content to make a Tim Burton version of the play, rather than what he was supposed to do – make a film version of the play. Props for atmosphere, but that’s about it.

Dark Harbor ~ This is another loser from the insomnia club on Fearnet. A couple picks up a stranger as they vacation at a deserted island cabin. Predictable and sad, and probably the only time I’ve seen a bad performance from Alan Rickman. One of the most boring films I’ve seen recently.

Alvin and the Chipmunks ~ This could have been such a disaster but it turned out to be quite entertaining. The flick puts an updated spin on the old story of songwriter meets rodents. Featuring elements to entice both adults and children, whether you know the characters or not, I loved this. Yeah, it’s a bit predictable, but in a fun way, as opposed to the movie above. Any movie with the same bad guy (comedian David Cross) as Pootie Tang gets a thumbs up from me, and Jason Lee is fun as David Seville – although he has officially lost his street cred as a skater with this flick. Sometimes you can never go home again. My highest recommendation – I may buy this when it comes out on DVD.

Next ~ Another Philip K. Dick adaptation, this one has Nicholas Cage doing his best Nicholas Cage imitation as a stage magician who can see two minutes into the future. Well done scifi with lots of twists. Worth seeing.

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