Nicolas Cage: the man, the myth, the legend. He is shrouded in mystery even though he may be one of the most prominent actors of his time. If you look up how many films he’s been in, the answer you will get back is “at least 97.” Not even Google has been able to keep track. If someone were to watch every single Nicolas Cage film, I am certain they would lose their mind, so I took it upon myself to watch eight of them — some with the lowest rotten tomatoes scores I’ve ever seen — so that you don’t have to. However, I must make something very clear. There will be no bashing on Nicolas Cage today. The purpose of this article is not to mock him, but to showcase his work in all its glory, and change the minds of any person who does not see him for what he is: pure talent incarnate.
City of Angels (1998): 58% rotten tomatoes
Nicolas Cage is an angel, and now the whole world knows it. It may as well have been a documentary with how true to life it was. Cage as the seraphic “Seth the Angel” is awkward and endearing as a celestial being new to human conventions and emotions. There was a pretty steamy shower scene where Cage learns the joys of bathing. I don’t think he blinked once in the entire film.
My Score: 7.5/10
8mm (1999): 22% rotten tomatoes
This Nicolas Cage film was recommended to me during a conversation about true crime documentaries and snuff films. This crime/mystery thriller was not a documentary, but I could’ve believed it was. Cage was unerringly dedicated to his role as a private investigator hired by a rich widow to find the origin of a snuff film her late husband owned, determine its authenticity, and find out if the girl in the film was actually murdered. Cage teams up with an adult video store clerk (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix) and delves deep into the seedy underbelly of “adult cinema.” Cage was captivating to watch as his character’s mental health haphazardly begins to unravel at the seams at his gruesome discoveries. The only aspect of the film I cannot endorse is the name of Cage’s baby daughter in the film: Cinderella. That was her honest-to-god name. I know that it was supposed to be significant about daughters, love and the disappointing reality of what it means to be a woman once you grow up (blah blah blah), but I full-body cringed anytime anyone on screen said it.
My Score: 8/10
Ghost Rider (2007): 26% rotten tomatoes
Nicolas Cage is hot. Also his skull was on fire sometimes in the movie. After selling his soul to the Devil, motorcycle stuntman Nicolas Cage turns into a fiery, avenging agent of hell. Cage is endearing as a Southern sweetheart who downs martini glasses full of jelly beans because alcohol gives him nightmares. Cage even made an interesting choice where he randomly drops the Southern accent and picks it up again to keep the audience on their toes. Very cool! The effects were awesome because they clearly weren’t trying too hard. It’s lame when special effects artists try to make stuff look real. Marvel did its fans a great disservice by not including Ghost Rider in the MCU.
My Score: 6.66/10
Bangkok Dangerous (2008): 8% rotten tomatoes
This was a Karate Kid type scenario with Cage functioning as a sort of Mr. Miyagi that teaches his protege all the rules and subtleties of being a successful assassin. His dialogue and voice-over narration was hilarious. Viewers were treated to the sight of a long-haired Cage trying to awkwardly feed a baby elephant. Elephants were a common and not at all subtle motif which was constantly recycled and very appreciated. I hate when movies try to be coy. I like my metaphors to be straightforward with a bit of real-world applicable advice. So here’s a pro tip from Nicolas Cage to me to readers like you: it’s bad luck for an elephant to have a down-turned trunk in decorations, so either turn your painting upside down or resign yourself to a lifetime of failure and disappointment.
My Score: 5/10
Drive Angry (2011): 47% rotten tomatoes
Nicolas Cage is John Milton. No, not the author of Paradise Lost. He’s an angry ex-con who escaped from the fires of hell to seek revenge against the Satanic cultists that murdered his daughter and plan to sacrifice his baby granddaughter. That was a fun sentence. Cage has a new hairdo and an attitude to match as the blonde badass who kicks names and takes butt. He drinks beer out of a skull. It doesn’t get more alpha male than that. It was cute of the directors to cast Amber Heard as the female lead, but it’s clear to anyone who watched the movie that Cage was the real eye-candy.
My score: 10/10
The Frozen Ground (2013): 61% rotten tomatoes
This movie was pretty heavy which I was not expecting from a movie produced by 50 cent. Cage played a tenacious Alaskan state trooper hunting down a serial killer that has been preying on women for 13 years. It’s actually based on a true story, and Cage was phenomenal in retelling it. Unfortunately, Vanessa Hudgens was cast to play the victim and I am unashamed to say that in my completely biased opinion that she was like a whiny fly buzzing in my ear the whole time. She really made Nic’s job harder by not cooperating with the investigation. One might even say that she was the real villain of the story by stealing valuable screen time away from Cage with her melodramatics. The film loses brownie points for that.
My Score: 6/10
Pay the Ghost (2015): 10% rotten tomatoes
Nicolas Cage dips his toes in the ever-popular supernatural-drama-mystery genre with Pay the Ghost. It was pretty spooky. I almost peed my pants a couple of times (but that was unrelated to the movie). Cage redefines the limits of fatherhood as he risks everything and crosses to the other side to find his son after he’s abducted from a Halloween carnival. We get to see Cage in some spooky seasonal attire, and let me tell you — Nicolas Cage in a cowboy getup is not a sight to be missed. All other men will be ruined for you for the rest of forever after watching this movie.
My Score: 8.4/10
Running with the Devil (2019): 25% rotten tomatoes
It must be a pretty complex movie because I couldn’t understand what was going on most of the time — and I’m a film major which obviously means I’m usually all-knowing as well as omnipotent. The title is very misleading because it is actually about a botched batch of cocaine, and Cage’s journey up the supply chain to figure out who tainted it. My one critique is that Nicolas Cage did not get nearly enough screen time because so much of it was devoted to wacky, pointless side characters. That does not reflect on Cage’s performance at all, if anything it’s a testament to how captivating he is as a fry cook/part-time drug lord.