Tag Archives: nicolas cage

Reel Redundant

As I’m not a fourteen-year-old girl and it’s not 2009, I wouldn’t call myself a Taylor Lautner fan. Granted, I haven’t seen everything in his filmography, but he’s a relatively competent actor in everything I have seen him in. When I learned about his latest film Tracers, I was intrigued that the premise sounded so similar to 2012’s Premium Rush, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon. Both feature bike messengers, some vague Asian mafia, crooked federal employees and also act as how-to guides of what not to do when you’re biking around a city.

Tracers distances itself from Premium Rush by adding parkour into the mix. I thought they were going to build up to the parkour, but no, they drop it in without much explanation. Are there really gangs of at-risk youth doing parkour in New York City? If so, I need to buy myself a pair of American Eagle jeans and move there ASAP.

While both are fairly decent action movies, I gotta give the edge to Premium Rush. It opens with “Baba O’riley”, features the band Sleigh Bells and Michael Shannon’s gambling addict antagonist reaches Nicolas Cage levels of hilarious overacting. Still, Tracers is pretty solid. Neither are Citizen Kane, though.

Citizen Chain, on the other hand ...

Citizen Chain, on the other hand …
© Citizen Chain Cyclery

Anyway, watching Tracers got me thinking of other movies with similar premises. Often these movies get released within a few months of each other and can give audience members a case of déjà vu. Blame it on some kind of filmmaking multiple discovery theory, competing studios or Hollywood’s broken down originality machine.

We’ll experience such repetitive redundancy in 2016 with Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s musical version of The Jungle Book followed by Andy Serkis’ directorial debut of the horribly titled Jungle Book: Origins in 2017. It’s supposed to be a closer adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s original stories–no songs or kingly orangutans. Favreau’s cast boasts Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa. Serkis, on the other hand, will be playing Baloo and has Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett portraying the other roles, respectively. This is one of the only times when I’m actually interested in both versions; the two casts are enough to get my butt in the cinema.

Here are some other movies from the last few years with similar premises. You be the judge on which one was better.

The Illusionist (September 2006) vs The Prestige (October 2006)

The_Illusionist_Poster

Prestige_poster

Released about a month apart, both feature magicians magicking stuff up, but only one has Michael Caine. I’ve always wanted to but have not yet seen The IllusionistThe Prestige, however, is my favorite movie from Christopher Nolan and one that reveals something new with each subsequent viewing. With a box office gross $14 million more than The Illusionist, it seems like audiences liked The Prestige too.

Happy Feet (November 2006) vs Surf’s Up (June 2007)

Happy_Feet_Poster

Surfs_upmp

Both are computer animated. One features the voice of Robin Williams. The other features the voice of Shia Labeouf. Both are about penguins doing stuff that penguins don’t do, like winning the Stanley Cup more than three times. Oh snap! What do you put on a freezer burn? Because, you know, ice … This is why I don’t write about sports. Happy Feet made over three times as much as Surf’s Up, perhaps indicative that audience fatigue with penguins reached its peak that started in 2005 with March of the Penguins.

No Strings Attached (January 2011) vs Friends with Benefits (July 2011)

No_Strings_Attached_PosterFriends_with_benefits_posterBeautiful people don’t want feelings to get in the way of all the beautiful-people sex they have. Spoiler alert: feelings get in the way. It seems like by the time Friends with Benefits came out, audiences were tired of seeing physically perfect specimens on display; it made about $15 million less than No Strings Attached. Still, it probably made more than it would have if it had starred a pair like John Goodman and Roseanne Barr.

Mirror Mirror (March 2012) vs Snow White and the Huntsman (June 2012)

Mirror_Mirror_FilmPoster Snow_White_and_the_Huntsman_PosterOne features actual little people playing the seven dwarves, the other is a veritable who’s who of English actors portraying the dwarves with camera trickery. Both were largely forgettable and although Snow White and the Huntsman made more than twice as much at the box office as Mirror Mirror, it still came about $15 million short of making back its budget. Currently, there are no plans for Disney to remake its own version (yet).

Olympus Has Fallen (March 2013) vs White House Down (June 2013)

Olympus_Has_Fallen_poster White_House_Down_poster_with_billing_blockThe White House is under attack and only a beefy guy can save the president. Olympus Has Fallen not only made back its $70 million budget, but also out-grossed White House Down by a whopping near-$26 million. Kim Jong Un got upset about The Interview but these two films came out within just three months and featured wanton destruction of our nation’s capital and no one batted an eye. There’s some kind of commentary to be made about that, but I’m not the one to make it.

Do you find different films with similar concepts redundant or does it not bother you at all? Let us know in the comments below!

–Ross

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer of Cage

Dear readers, it’s time I did something for you. For a while now, I have often referred to the Thespian Nicolas Cage as my favorite actor. This is not in jest. You can ask me point blank, apropos of nothing, and this will be my answer. He’s in some of my favorite movies, and he’s in some of the worst (which are also my favorite). If you haven’t seen Nic Cage dressed in a bear suit running in slow motion, or about to get a face full of bees, then you don’t know how to be entertained and you’re watching movies wrong. This post, brought on by popular demand, is my explanation for why most every Nicolas Cage film is essential viewing.

image from telegraph.co.uk

Now, full disclosure, my friends. I tried, in summer’s past, a “Summer of Cage” in which I planned on watching every film in his filmography in order. This is no small feat, and I won’t lie to you, I did not make it very far. When the man can’t go a month without making a new movie, it’s hard to not see the horizon. This does not mean there is not enjoyment in watching the man perform, regardless of the film. He is guilty of overacting, something that I have seen my other favorites succumb to in time as well, but I forgive him. Enough talk. Let’s have a top five, shall we?

5. Bringing Out the Dead
Cage. Scorsese. Goodman. Ving Rhames. There is absolutely nothing to lose. Yet, this is a classically underrated movie, especially for Scorsese because when this didn’t perform at the box office the director was forced to sell out and make movies like The Departed and I could go on, but we’re talking about Cage here. He plays an exhausted and overwhelmed EMT working the graveyard shift, who is haunted by the ghosts of those he’s failed to save. Cage wears all of this wonderfully, and has never looked so broken down and defeated.

4. Kick-Ass

Too easy. In a movie designed to cater to the over-the-top, Cage pulls a reverse and plays calm. He is a father, a former cop, and even grows the ‘stache back in. He’s also a vigilante by the name of “Big Daddy” who has trained his 11 year old daughter to be a ruthless killing machine. Worth it alone for the scene in which testing out a new bullet-proof vest, he plugs her in the chest to make sure it works (“You’re gonna be fine, baby doll!”). When there’s no need to play it big, our man shows he can take a supporting role and make it just as memorable.

3. Adaptation
Cage was nominated for an Oscar for this one, which some may find surprising. What surprises people even more is that he won one already for Leaving Las Vegas. So why don’t the commercials ever say “Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage”? Seems unfair that Dame Judi Dench always gets the precursor, but I guess it’s just because Cage doesn’t need no introduction. In this one, Cage plays two characters –  two polar opposite brothers, yet both remarkably Cage. He’s terrific as the loner, but even more memorable as the outgoing and slow-witted counterpart.

2. Raising Arizona
The epitome of early Cage. The Coen Brothers tapped him to play a young outlaw who wants to go straight, marry a police officer, and raise a family. But Cage cannot be tamed so easily. This movie is him at his absolute likable best, equaled by what may be the finest Coen movie, featuring the coolest looking Nic Cage anyone has even seen. Wild hair, kept mustache, Hawaiian shirts and tight jeans. Basically, hipster start up kit.

1. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Cage. Kilmer. Herzog. Heaven. This movie features Nic Cage smoking crack cocaine, carrying the largest magnum pistol and aiming at whoever stands in his way, and a scene in which he yells at lizards on a crime scene table that only he can see (a scene in which Herzog instructed Cage to “turn the pig loose,” which is my favorite thing ever said). In other words, the perfect Herzog movie just got the perfect actor. Also, Xzibit is in it.

image from nytimes.com

I know, right. Only five when I could have gone on for at least fifteen. I could talk about which internet supercuts of his movies are the best. I could talk about how he got an autograph from J.D. Salinger as part of a “quest” to convince Patricia Arquette to marry him that took longer to complete than their marriage lasted. And I’d love to talk about his expenses (he owns a dinosaur skull), despite being almost entirely broke.  I have clearly left you wanting for more, dear readers. Let’s continue the discussion; post below for interactive fun!

– Tony

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized