Colour Out Of Space


Viewed – 07 March 2020. Online rental

I used to be quite the fan of Nicholas Cage and rank many of his movies as firm favourites. However in recent years his output has garnered little acclaim and although this sci-fi horror is far from a return to past glories it’s certainly an interesting and daring choice for the once Oscar winning actor.

Something strange in the garden…

Cage plays Nathan, a family man who lives out ‘in the sticks’ with his wife (Joely Richardson) daughter and two sons. However one night what at first appears to be a meteorite crash lands in their front garden, bringing with it a weird pink glow that soon begins to have a strange affect on the family.

Directed by Richard Stanley, a filmmaker I’m not familiar with but it’s clear he brings with him a distinct vision and style … with echoes of the much underrated Stewart Gordon gore-fest From Beyond and an atmosphere that’s Stranger Things meets The Twilight Zone. Only what feel like a restricted effects budget holds this back, but it runs with some pretty messed up ideas (especially towards the end). Not surprising when it’s based on a H.P. Lovecraft short story. Cage is decent as are the rest of the cast and as the metorite’s otherworldly presence takes its grip each character gets their moment, although not necessarily for the better.

What it lacks in ambition it makes up for in style, very trippy imagery and just plain ‘out there’ ideas that gives this its own feel like its birthing a whole new sub genre – hallucinogenic alien invasion? Whatever it was … I was up for it.

Verdict: Recommended

Joe


Viewed – 18 April 2015  Netflix

Nicholas Cage has had a bit of a bad rap lately with his wealth of commercially and critically underwhelming roles in mostly forgettable movies.  This is one that seems to have garnered him better reviews however.

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Cage plays Joe, a boss in a logging firm who employs a local teenage kid looking for work.  Overtime the two form a bond and soon Joe realises that the kid’s drunken father may be hitting him and the kid’s mother.  Yet Joe has enough problems of his own – should he get involved?

A thought-provoking story slightly let down by what appears to be first time actors in key parts.  Tye Sheridan who plays the kid is not bad and fairly convincing, but I wished the toothless, abusive father had been portrayed by someone with a bit more acting-chops, to add some depth to his character.  Speaking of depth we get to know next to nothing of Joe’s background other than a stint in prison – where does he come from?  Why doesn’t he appear to have any family or friends?  I’ll always like Cage however, and here he does a decent job with a fairly basic character.

I came away feeling this was a poor man’s Gran Torino, the seasoned veteran actor and amateurish co-stars bringing on a serious case of Déjà vu – but it has only a smidgen of the emotional impact of that Clint Eastwood classic.  For fans of Cage though, this was one of his better performances in recent memory.

Verdict:  3 /5

Bad Lieutenant


Viewed – 09 April 2011  Blu-ray

Port Of Call: New Orleans

With a title like that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a cheap rushed to DVD sequel to the classic Abel Ferrara movie of the same name, then starring Harvey Keitel as the drug taking, corrupt Cop investigating the rape of a Nun.  This however see’s Nicholas Cage as a similar drug-taking Cop with seriously controversial methods of law enforcement investigating the murder of a family in the slums of New Orleans, six months after Hurricane Katrina. 

Yet this is no cheap cash in, and with a back-on-form Cage making a return to the crazy-method actor genius he showed in the likes of Wild At Heart and Leaving Las Vegas, this is anything but a straight sequel neither.  You could call it a remake, but it doesn’t exactly delve into the dirty grimy territory of its namesake but for a couple of moments, and mostly its a vehicle for Cage to show everyone he’s still got it.  Directed by seasoned veteran Werner Herzog, this accomplished drama also offers up some commendable acting from the likes of Eva Mendes as Cage’s prostitute girlfriend and rapper Xzibit as a wealthy gang boss, as well as a script, that although offering nothing that gripping as far as plot goes, is sprinkled with dark humour, surrealism and great dialogue.   It felt a touch overlong, and I think it would have benefited from some tighter editing, but as it stands and as a Cage fan, I can’t help but give this a high recommendation.

Verdict:  4 /5

Kick-Ass


Viewed – 31 March 2010  Cinema

To say I have been looking forward to this one would be an understatement.  Ever since hype generated from the 2009 comic-con, the teaser trailer, and quite simply, the concept alone – I have been wanting to see this for a long time.  Following the story of nerdy teenager Dave Lizewski who has always had an ambition to be a costumed superhero, one day he finally plucks up the courage to realise his dream and orders a suitably eye-catching costume over the internet.  Of course as you can imagine, the idea of a real teenager becoming a superhero, with no particular powers, just cast-iron balls and a yearning to be noticed (he’s invisible to the opposite sex, it seems) is going to be met with guffaws by anyone who comes into contact with him, as is quickly shown when he tries to take on a couple of petty muggers and comes (very much) worse off.  Yet he is not the only wannabe crime fighter at large, and after becoming an internet sensation he attracts the attention of two real costumed heroes, namely the pint-sized Hit Girl and her mentor Big Daddy, a seriously bad-ass Father and Daughter duo with a grudge against the local mob outfit. 

Matthew Vaughan’s incredibly imaginative movie seems like one of those ideas you can’t believe nobody has done before.  These heroes aren’t in an alternative world, where the villains are caricatures and every scrap ends with a comical one-liner and a cheer from the audience – this is the real world, with real dangers, and these guys are up against it with the possibility of getting themselves easily killed at any moment.  It’s refreshing, and insanely cool, helped immeasurably by a stellar cast including seasoned bad guy Mark Strong and a brilliantly complex Nicholas Cage.  But let’s be honest here, it’s the younger end of the cast that shine the most, with newcomer Aaron Johnson carrying the movie as the gutsy but naive Dave / Kick-Ass with some dead-pan narration along the way.  Also on hand is nerdy favourite Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the mob boss’s under-appreciated son.  Yet all these are completely overshadowed by the wonderful Chloe Moretz as the brilliant Hit-Girl / Mindy, a whirlwind of expletives and violence cooler than a truck load of Neo’s.  She also has a knack of delivering lines that would shock you if you wasn’t laughing so hard.

In addition to the perfect casting, a script that sparkles with brilliant dialogue and some great moments including a superb (if over the top) finally, is a soundtrack of perfectly chosen tunes that enhance every action sequence, which in themselves are choreographed expertly showing that Matthew Vaughan & Co can deliver more than just soppy fantasies (Stardust) and luke-warm mob movies (Layer Cake) to hold their heads high amongst the best of ’em.

An incredibly fun movie and an easy contender for movie of the year.

Verdict:  5 /5

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets


Viewed – 11 Jan 2008  Blu-ray

This being my first review of a Blu-ray title, forgive me for gushing.  Lets get the obvious stuff out of the way first – the picture and sound to this baby is first class, with every wrinkle on Nic Cage’s weathered face and every crease of fabric and crumble of a stone wall, represented in vivid detail.  I also noticed that the sound seemed much deeper and crisper than on a DVD.  I was very impressed.

This modern take on Indiana Jones archaeological adventuring is the follow up to the underwhelming but enjoyable NT #1 (duh!) and has a wise cracking, quite funny Nicholas Cage on fine form even though I feel this kind of audience pleasing pop corn entertainment is beneath an actor once wowing critics as a suicidal drunk in Leaving Las Vegas.  Joined by two other treasure hunters (gadget guy Justin Bartha and ex-squeeze Diane Kruger) as well as a scene stealing Jon Voight and Helen Mirren; after the revelation that a lost diary page could ruin the family name in the history books, a quest begins to discover the hidden city of gold and prove the family name’s innocence.  Ok it sounds rubbish, but with a kidnapping of the President (!), globe trotting to Buckingham Palace and sneaking around The White House, as well as car chases, caves, booby traps…and a sneering Ed Harris – its hard not to get caught up in the hokum, and if like me you’re a sucker for conspiracy theories, American history etc, then you’ll have a great time with this.

It does nothing new and borrows shamelessly from much better plotted films…but at the end of the day, has plenty of personality – and sometimes that just about makes all the silly stuff work.

Verdict:  3 /5