Posts Tagged ‘nicolas cage

08
Jul
10

“Kick-Ass” and Take Names

Or was that ass-kicked?

Starring Aaron Johnson, Clark Duke, Evan Peters, Lyndsy Fonseca, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz, and Nicolas Cage. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.

I will say it over and over again: I’m not a huge fan of the superhero genre. For every good superhero movie (“Superman,” “Batman,” “Spider-Man”) there are the less-than-stellar attempts at bringing others to the silver screen (“Daredevil,” “Hulk”) as well as attempts to resurrect a franchise (“Superman Returns,” “The Incredible Hulk”). And let’s not forget the made-up/not so renown ones (“Blankman,” “Steele”). I’m writing this on the eve of “Iron Man 2,” which I suspect will be the popcorn blockbuster that the first entirely was and that’s fine with me.

“Kick-Ass” is based on a darker graphic novel and follows Dave Lizewski, your Peter Parker-ish high school quintessential 98+ pound weakling. He’s in love with the beautiful but impossible to have Katie Deauxma (Fonseca). His two best friends Marty (Duke) and Todd (Peters) hang out with him each day at Atomic Comics. Dave’s life is the epitome of boring and mundane: he goes to school, his dad goes to work, they eat the same brand knock-off cereal, etc. In short, blah.

Out of this stagnation comes a twisted idea: what if he became a superhero, like in the comic books? His friends dismiss it saying that it would be crazy. Unless a person happened to be like Batman or whoever else why would anyone want to do it? Again, crazy idea. But not for Dave…

Hopping on the Net he orders a green with yellow trim wetsuit and some batons. He adopts the name Kick-Ass and in the beginning he’s more the reverse: his ass gets kicked. He has no fighting skills or training or cache of money to rely on. This doesn’t deter him because he has the one thing that superheroes need: a heart. After an attempt to thwart carjackers leaves him bleeding from a stab wound, as well as getting hit by a car, he emerges from the hospital with enough metal inside him to rival Wolverine. This clinches his idea of becoming a superhero.

Enter the main bad guy, lumber supplier and drug kingpin Frank D’Amico (Strong). After a deal goes bad Kick-Ass is to blame and becomes his personal center of revenge. The kingpin’s son, Chris (Mintz-Plasse), concocts a plan to get close to Kick-Ass by becoming a superhero himself.

Kick-Ass finds allies in Hit Girl (Moretz) and Big Daddy (Cage). Big Daddy had been a cop who refused to bend to D’Amico and became framed. Sent to prison for five years his then wife OD’d on drugs but lived long enough to give birth to their daughter, Mindy. Mindy and father become reunited after he’s released whereby she becomes Hit Girl and he Big Daddy. Their mission: bring down D’Amico.

I’ll leave the story description there because let’s face it: you’ve seen the plot points before. What makes this movie differ from the rest is that it knows the source material that came before it and plays to the audience. Dave narrates the film with that “I’m telling you but you should probably already figure it out” sense of sarcasm. He knows that he doesn’t have the Batman story of revenge, or the Spider-Man story of being bitten by a radioactive spider. He knows and comes to terms with the fact that superheroes grace comic books for a reason: they are in an alternate reality. By finding his own humanity he does manage to become a superhero which is just as good.

My thoughts? I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. When Nicholson in “Batman,” exclaimed, “What this town needs is an enema,” he may as well have been talking about the superhero genre. After knowing the backstories to every-other Marvel or DC character and knowing the story arcs, we’ve become so accustomed to how the story is supposed to play out that all we can do is venture whether or not this set of characters did it well.

And these do. Kick-Ass goes from being the high school dork to superhero sensation. He befriends others trying to help the cause. He fights the bad guy and wins. And, there’s the offspring of a future nemesis.

Aside from this, “Kick-Ass” is a film I would suggest to young filmmaker wannabes/gonnabes because there are so many styles put into this film. Director Matthew Vaughn’s debut movie was “Layer Cake,” but this plays closer to “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” and “Snatch,” both movies he produced with Guy Ritchie. For those who miss the sense of humor those movies had in Ritchie’s current work check this one out; you’ll find the person it came from. Whether the movie plays like Ang Lee’s “Hulk,” or like “A Scanner Darkly,” or even like a video game, it keeps you on your toes for what to expect. It may not be the greatest achievement in film but I can liken it to “Kill Bill Vol. 1” in terms of mashing together various styles.

Aaron Johnson does a great job at being the high school dork-come-superhero with heart and I expect that he’ll get a lot more work because of it. I’m not going to guess what his range is but he played the part perfectly. Nic Cage does an interesting turn as Big Daddy, a Batman wannabe down to his lookalike custom and Adam West-pregnant pausing sentences.

The real thing about this movie is Mindy/Hit Girl. She’s twelve, cusses worse than a sailor, and could out-John Woo any situation. A lethal killing machine that hasn’t even gotten to high school yet. I’ve heard friends say that this is controversial in other cities and maybe they’re talking about it here. But hey guys: it’s just a movie. Sit back, relax, and try to have fun watching it.

I wish I could recommend this to everybody but I know that tastes vary and that there will be a lot of people offended by this one. So I’ll recommend this one to those who love superhero movies, those who like them, and those who are all about satire.

My grade: B+

Chas Andrews is a freelance writer, blogger, movie critic, what-have-you. Check out his hardboiled crime tale, The Big Adios, at http://aidencobb.blogspot.com

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28
Oct
09

Remake Radar: Bad Lieutenant

bad_lieutenant_1992

 

Just in time for next month’s release…

Welcome to Remake Radar, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

“Bad Lieutenant” (1992)

Stars: Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo, and Frankie Thorn

Director: Abel Ferrara

Story: Harvey Keitel plays the main character, a guy who is as much a criminal as a cop. Buried under gambling debt and looking for the next score, he ends up helping out a nun (Thorn) and reflecting on his life, searching for forgiveness.

What do we know now?: Werner Herzog has taken the reins on this one, subbing in Nic Cage for Keitel and relocating from NYC to Bayou country. Cage is investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants. Eva Mendes (who was with cage in “Ghost Rider”) shows up in this one as well. Also starring is Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, and Brad Dourif.

The release date is set for November 20, 2009.

Original trailer:

Remake trailer:

 

 

bad_lieutenant_port_of_call_new_orleans

03
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: Next

next1

 My grade: C. Wait, isn’t that a little more than 2 minutes in the future?

Stars Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel. Directed by Lee Tamahori. Based on the Philip K. Dick story, “The Golden Man.”

Nic Cage is Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas magician who morosely lives his life performing as Frank Cadillac and who keeps a secret: he can see 2 minutes into his own future. This helps him out of situations whereby he can easily hide from people, duck corners, avoid getting shot, or barely have a stolen car clipped by an oncoming train. “No good deed goes unpunished” as he stops casino carnage by disarming a serial casino shooter. This brings the attention of FBI agent Callie Ferris (Moore) who figures out that Cris’s ability to see into the future isn’t just a magic trick, it’s the real deal. Ferris needs Cris in order to help find a missing nuclear warhead that will take out the L.A. area faster than the current land eroding. Ferris isn’t the only one interested in Cris; the group with the stolen nuke figures that if the FBI is interested in him, so should they. Cris is only interested in living his life as normal and “under the radar” as possible until he meets Liz Cooper (Biel), a part-time teacher he hitches a ride to Flagstaff with and who has the ability to help him see further into the future.

File this one under “Good Idea, Okay Execution.”

Time travel, clairvoyance, precognition, what-have-you has been the staple of many a sci-fi film, and not always the good ones. To say this is the type of movie you can watch and then appreciate “Millennium” (Kris Kristofferson, Cheryl Ladd) may be a bit of an overstatement, but not by much (okay, I was a kid when I saw “Millennium” and thought the watches running backwards were cool, alright?) Okay, how about “Timecop?” I refuse to acknowledge “Star Trek’s” adventures in time because they’ve abused the privilege. The one thing these movies have over “Next” is: a story.

Getting past the point of belief that the bad guys would be interested in Cris, there’s not a lot else going on in this movie. Jessica Biel does a good job at being the romantic interest/ innocent person caught up in all the mayhem. Julianne Moore is good at being the balls-to-the-wall yet soft-hearted FBI agent needing to find Cris to stop the warhead from detonation. And Nic Cage slumbers around until he’s in an action sequence, at which point he jumps and flails around until it’s over and returns to sleep-acting.

Again, I return to the story. The movie smacks you with its “ain’t this cool?” premise so much that it often makes you forget that there has to be a point to the movie. The filmmakers designed the movie to confuse the viewer as to whether or not what we are seeing is the truth, or if it’s a 2-minute “sneak peek.” This actually ruins the ending. And the part where he makes multiple versions of himself to check for traps while cool is unwarranted.

I really wanted this movie to be good, or at least as entertaining as “Paycheck” (another movie based on a PKD story and hey, at least that one WAS entertaining). The movie tries to be cerebral, but there’s nothing cerebral about it with the exception of Cage moping around. The film also had problems mixing romance with action-adventure thriller, throwing the viewer for a loop. By the hour-mark I couldn’t care less about the characters; I just wanted to know how the movie ended. It should’ve spent less time screaming, “Hey, isn’t this concept cool?” and more time developing a story.

Let’s face it: it was a mess of a movie.

Of note, Jim Beaver (“Deadwood”) and Peter Falk (“Columbo”) were in this one.

My grade: C (cool idea, unworthy execution)

01
Apr
08

Movie Review: Battle Zone: The Movie

BattleZoen poster

They’re cashing in on my childhood. Again.

 

Starring Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth Banks, William Sadler, and Wilford Brimley. Directed by Dominic Sena.

 

Where do I start?

 

The story goes like this: retired Colonel Jonathan Radner (Cage) is having nightmares. He remembers something, but what for certain he doesn’t know. After an incident at Fort Bragg he’s sent to a base in the MidWest; the kind of place that makes Omaha look like NYC. There he lives and gives tours on military history at their museum.

 

Enter Amanda Thorn (Banks). She’s a teacher and a military wife. Her husband (Sam Rockwell) is on a conference in D.C. Having been a “military brat” she knows the drill. Her father (Brimley) lives on the base as well.

 

When “aliens” land in D.C., Chicago, L.A., NYC, Houston, and Seattle, we know something is up. Within moments of a proposed “treaty” (how long has the government denied their existence?) we realize all too late that they are no relatives to “E.T.” or “Mac” (“Mac and Me” anyone?) And apparently they’ve picked up a thing or two since “Independence Day,” and have immunized themselves from computer viruses by shutting down all PCs and Macs. In fact they kill the power across the entire globe. Who can save us now?

 

Colonel Radner and his lean, mean Sherman machine. Breaking into the Museum he takes their prized possession and grabbing all the ammo he can (why would you keep ammunition for a museum piece?) he rolls the tank out. After successfully obliterating a UFO he’s now our last, best hope.

 

This seems to upset the aliens who until now were simply happy to eradicate us like ants under a magnifying glass. They change their strategy and begin “turning” us against ourselves using William Sadler to commandeer a force of tanks to take out Cage.

 

Wow. I dunno what else to say. If you’re a fan of Nic Cage, this is your best bet. No globe-trotting search for artifacts here; just shit blowin’ up. Sure, there’s the mutual protection/ love interest between Banks and Cage. And yes, it’s great to see Wilford Brimley talking about his old “war days” and how much he really knew about Roswell (“Why do you think I was sent to this base?”) instead of hocking Quaker Oats, Metamucil, or life insurance. It kinda reminded me of him in “The Thing.”

 

And Dominic Sena is on the radar again, teaming up with Bruckheimer for this ditty. I had wondered what became of him (checking the IMDB now). I did like how he brought back (in certain POV scenes) the old Atari game. When Cage goes to look through his viewfinder, I swore that I was in a hyper-reality version of it (with the exception of 8-bit mountains or yellow “bullets” destroying the UFOs)

 

All-in-all, your standard “plug ‘n play” fare; check your brain at the door. Watch for the cameos of Kevin Smith and Alec Baldwin. Those are worth it.

 

My grade: C+