We have quite a fun one this week. My friend Will Brennan and I are going to be discussing a very divisive actor. From Academy Award winner, to 90s action star, to some of his more recent lower budget film, Nic Cage’s career has spanned several decades and genres. So in tribute to icon of cinema , this week we are listing our top 5 Nicolas Cage films. Will has picked his films based on what “caused the most belly laughs and/or bewildered squinting in the general direction of the screen.”
Will has also provided an honourable mention, in Superman Lives. I’d echo this sentiment that this would have been one of the weirdest films ever made. For more information on this then you should watch Jon Schnepp’s film The Death of “Superman Lives” What Happened? which can be rented here: http://www.tdoslwh.com
“Superman Lives: Google it, look at it, remember it. Considering The Cage named his own son after the Man of Steel – Kal-El Cage is a real person – one can see how this may have been an appropriate role for him. However, combine this with the fact that Tim Burton was to be the director – the director who brought us such acid trips as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland – it is perhaps for the best that this film remained unmade.”
Right now onto the main event, our top 5.
- Shuggie: Con Air – Some people may claim that the Rock is the best Nic Cage action film, but personally I just love the whole premise of Con Air. A plane full of the most dangerous criminals, and one who is willing to stand up against them. With a colourful cast of characters and a great villainous turn by John Malkovich, Con Air is one of the classic 90s action films. And having appeared in The Rock and Face/Off in the previous year or so this just cemented Cage’s place as a true action star.
- Will: The Wicker Man – Perhaps one of the most unforgettable, if not embarrassing, moments in cinema history, picture 102 minutes of Nick Cage gallivanting around an island, beating up women. Now add to the mix such Shakespearean dialogue as: ‘what’s in the bag, a shark or something?’; or ‘Ah! No, not the bees! Not the bees! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Oh, they’re in my eyes! My eeeeeyes! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!’. To be fair to the noble actor, no Academy Award winner on Earth could have saved this film and Cage’s extreme overacting served to turn this horror remake into an unintentional cult comedy.
- Shuggie: The Croods – If you know me, you know I love animated films. And whilst the Croods may not be amongst the best, it is still a fun, enjoyable, and moving family drama. Nic Cage is the over protective father of a caveman family. When a more intelligent, but much smaller man, played by Ryan Reynolds appears after their cave is destroyed they must travel across hostile terrain to safer place. Cage does a good job as Grug, and undergoes a great emotional journey throughout the film.
- Will: National Treasure – ‘I’m gonna steal the Declaration of Independence’ – yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Nic stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates (because ‘Murica): a historian, treasure hunter, and bat-shit-crazy patriot who decides to steal the Declaration of Independence in an attempt to foil the diabolical plan of Sean Bean and his merry band of mercenaries. This is a fun romp that involves very little thought process – Diane Kruger as the German American history enthusiast is a particularly mind-boggling – and everyone can cringe together at the nauseatingly patriotic, Constitution-bashing dialogue. Sadusky – ‘The Templars and the Freemasons believed that the treasure was too great for any one man to have, not even a king. That’s why they went to such lengths to keep it hidden.’ Ben Gates – ‘That’s right. The founding fathers believed the same thing about government. I figure their solution will work for the treasure too.’ Oh say can you see…
- Shuggie: Kick Ass – You might forget just how good the first Kick Ass film is because of how aggressively mediocre the sequel was. But the first is just about Nic Cage’s only good live action film in years. Playing 12-year-old Hit Girls father, Cage is a former cop turned Superhero, Big Daddy. The film is one of a number of great Matthew Vaughn films, and Cage is pitch perfect as Big Daddy.
- Will: Face/Off – John Travolta and Nick Cage star as an FBI agent and international superterrorist respectively. But there’s a catch, in order to infiltrate the organisation and gain valuable information, John Travolta goes undercover … as Nick Cage. What follows is one of the most surreal action movies ever made as two of the biggest over-actors in Hollywood spend two hours of film time acting like the other one. Cage headbanging to Handel’s Messiah while dressed as a priest is a scene not to be missed.
- Shuggie: Face/Off – Nicolas Cage is insane (on screen at any rate) and this movie is insane. So this is the perfect meeting of actor and film. Both Cage and John Travolta do an excellent job sharing the leads Castor Troy and Sean Archer, and really get the others mannerism, whilst still staying true to their original character. But Nic Cage’s performance in this film is over the top, intense, ridiculous, and so very watchable.
- Will: Vampire’s Kiss – ‘I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire!’ No Nick, you’re not a vampire. You’re Peter Loew – a literary agent who, through a deterioration of his mental health, is convinced that he’s a vampire. Another commercial flop, but cult favourite, this is the film that features the now-infamous “Cage-Face” (Google it – it’s the first one) and arguably brought the over-the-top Cage freakout to mainstream consciousness. Would we have the Nicholas we know and love without this film – I argue not.
- Shuggie: Raising Arizona – For me the Coen Brothers are genius filmmakers. And this 1987 film showcases their offbeat black comedy fantastically well. When Cage’s Hi and Holly Hunter’s Ed discover that they can’t have kids they decide to kidnap one of the five that local businessman Nathan Arizona had. Whilst it may not rank as highly as the Coen’s best comedies; O’ Brother, The Big Lebowski, or Fargo, this does give Nic Cage a wonderful chance to show his abilities as a comedic lead.
- Will: Con Air – Everything about this film makes it a rewatchable masterpiece. Be it John Malkovich’s cold and charming wit, Steve Buscemi singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” with a little girl, Nick Cage’s Southern(?) accent, or the simple inclusion of Danny Trejo in the picture, this film is an explosion filled action fest that isn’t to be missed. Indeed, this film won the Razzie Award for “Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property” at the 18th Golden Raspberry Awards – a most deserving accolade. The wanton destruction is paired with clever dialogue from some, and unintentionally hilarious lines from others *cough*Cage*cough*. For instance, John Malkovich declares to the serial rapist Danny Trejo, ‘For me, you’re somewhere between a cockroach and that white stuff that accumulates at the corner of your mouth when you’re really thirsty’. Cage – ‘Put… the bunny… back… in the box.’ Poetry.
So thats our Top 5 Nic Cage films. What are your favourites? What do you think are the most insane? Please do let me know.