Tag Archives: Nicolas Cage

Primal (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Director: Nick Powell
Writer: Richard Leder
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand

National treasure Nicholas Cage squares-off against a deadly jungle cat and a vicious assassin on-board a cargo ship. Man, I don’t see how anyone could pass that up. It’s a concept as wonderfully ridiculous as Samuel L. Jackson battling snakes on a plane. Primal doesn’t milk its premise to the campy heights of that kitschy classic, but it’s a lot more fun than the average Nick Cage Movie of the Week.

Cage plays Frank Walsh, a grizzled, grumpy game hunter who traps wild animals to sell to zoos. His latest haul includes birds, angry monkeys, poisonous snakes and – his biggest prize – a rare white jaguar. Sharing the boat ride home, however, is rogue assassin Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand), who’s been captured by U.S. forces and being returned in chains to stand trial for his crimes. Naturally, he manages to escape and frees all the animals. So now it’s man vs. man and man vs. nature, with Loffler and the cat picking off the supporting cast one by one.

Primal has less actual animal action than I hoped. Not that the conflict involving Loffler isn’t enjoyable. Durand does a decent job playing your standard over-confident bad guy, but watching nature get even is a lot more entertaining, especially in an unusual setting. Still, the beasties manage to get-in their licks here and there. Those scenes are the goofiest, therefore the liveliest, even if the CGI-rendered jaguar is laughably unconvincing.

Cage attacks his role with his inimitable brand of gusto, tongue planted firmly in-cheek, which is always enjoyable. Less vital is Famke Janssen as Ellen Taylor. She plays a Navy doctor tasked with monitoring Loffler’s health, but mostly exists to bicker with Cage and place herself in peril. The remaining cast – including Michael Imperioli – are essentially cannon fodder (or cat food).

Well made on a relatively limited budget, Primal won’t win any Oscars, but it’s hardly Razzie-worthy, either. Fast-paced and enjoyably silly, this features Nick Cage in prime any-role-to-pay-off-my-debts mode. And that isn’t always a bad thing, especially once he breaks-out his trusty blowgun.

Primal (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Primal Review

Director: Nick Powell
Writer: Richard Leder
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, LaMonica Garrett

Films where animals mess with the protagonists’ life. There are a lot of those movies. Only recently you could see in “Crawl” how alligators tried to outwit a father and daughter with their immense mouths full of razor-sharp, meat-tearing teeth. In “A quiet place” there were creatures with such a developed hearing that they can locate any human sound and quickly go there to tear the source of the noise to pieces. Birds, dogs, cats, crocodiles, tarantulas, grizzly bears, monkeys, ants, snakes, and sharks. An entire segment of the animal kingdom has already been used. This movie “Primal” immediately reminded me of a movie I saw years ago. Namely “Burning Bright“. In this last film, too, it was a tiger chasing two innocent people. Only it took place in a kind of Pippi-Longstocking-house. In “Primal”, on the other hand, it’s a cargo ship that serves as a hunting ground. And Nicolas Cage is also present. Maybe that’s why it’s worthwhile to give this film a chance.

Nicolas Cage. Man, I admire this actor enormously. He’s a phenomenon. I’m sure he’s aiming to reach a specific goal in his life. And that’s being able to announce on his deathbed that he broke the world record of “Actor with most appearances in feature films“. The man (known for his phenomenal roles in “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Joe“) did his utmost best in recent years. Every year he appeared in no fewer than six films. Of course, they aren’t all masterpieces. But La Cage seems to have an enormous endurance. I think he accepts every offer he gets. Apparently, his love for acting is infinite.

The crucial question you can ask yourself is of course: “Is this movie worth watching or is it completely rubbish?“. Well, the truth is actually somewhere in the middle. When Frank Walsh (Nicolas Cage) embarks on board a container ship, together with a whole load of exotic animals, he soon notices that he’s not the only one with a unique, life-threatening specimen. Frank earns his living by catching exotic animals, which he then resells to the highest bidder. And the white jaguar (“white jag” as Frank repeatedly pronounces) is a lottery ticket for him. A million to one shot and the guarantee he’ll own some real estate in Pine Lake. And suddenly the American authorities show up with a highly dangerous mercenary (Kevin Durand) in chains, a battalion of soldiers armed to the teeth and a personal female doctor (Famke Janssen) to ensure that the mercenary survives the trip. It has something to do with a brain abnormality and atmospheric pressure. A side issue afterward. You can already guess what’s going to happen. Soon Frank realizes he has to use his hunting instincts to hunt both the white jaguar and the perilous Richard Loffler.

The film never really gets exciting. It looks more like a long version of playing “hide and seek”. The accompanying soldiers are systematically liquidated easily. That kind of looked ridiculous. Also, after a certain period, Dr. Ellen Taylor no longer had a real function. Famke Janssen restricts herself to some annoying protests about catching endangered species. She looks like a feministic environmental activist, who’s about to pull up a protest sign with slogans about animal rights. Even the jaguar only managed to convince in the opening scene. Afterward, the jaguar was nothing more than a sneaking shadow. Only the two characters Cage and Durand played, caused some excitement. Kevin Durand managed to play a psychopathic character convincingly. And Cage visibly had fun here. And to be honest, compared to “A score to settle“, “Kill Chain“, and “Running with the devil” (I shamelessly fell asleep while watching this last one), this Cage-B-film isn’t that bad. Are you a Nicolas Cage fan? Well, you can safely add it to your list of “Must See Cage-Movie”.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Spider-Man Into the Spider- Verse

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
Writers: Phil Lord (screenplay by), Rodney Rothman (screenplay by)
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoë Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, Kathryn Hahn

Where do I begin reviewing this Marvel (pardon the pun) without sounding like a total sycophant. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse not only took me by surprise but knocked me for six with its stylishly stunning animation, taking a combination of 2-D and 3-D effects to create a modern masterpiece. Am I coming on too strong? Well I don’t care. Using the largest collection of animators for a Sony Pictures Animation project (somewhere in the region of 180 individuals) The technical aspects of this film is half of what makes this film a ten on ten (I don’t normally rate films in this fashion) and the other half being a combination of great characters and a strong storyline. A combination of various “Spider” superheroes an hour in really surprised me and knocked me off my stride for a few moments before appreciating how the filmmakers managed to create these different styles but somehow make them fit into this film. Sounds crazy right?

Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and meets his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. I have known about Morales for a number of years now and when it was announced that the character was finally appearing in a cinematic release, it was music to my ears. My brother Kevan introduced me to this character a while ago and it intrigued me on how the character would be accepted and received by the Spider-Man traditionalists. Fear not.

Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham with all of their different perspectives shouldn’t work on paper but thank the maker for Spider-Ham. The MCU for many years now has mastered the right of humour in the darkest of places to perfection. Well here Spider-Ham is to an extent the “Comic Relief” in this film. That’s not to say the character is two dimensional, he has done heart warming scenes also. Peni Parker is a welcome addition that I liked. The Anime style gives the character a real bubbly feel and is the mirror opposite of Spider-Man Noir. The character wouldn’t be out of place in Watchmen. In fact, Noir reminded me of the incarnation of DC’s Batman character in Gotham By Gaslight and was clearly a hero from yesteryear.

Peter Parker on the other hand surprised me. It’s crazy saying this due to the film being an animation but the character doesn’t waste any screen time. Parker is flawed in many ways mentally and physically (check the gut on him) he still has those loveable characteristics that make you route for him and this film reminds you of this.

The cast is amazing. Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoë Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, and Kathryn Hahn all play their part. At no point do you pinpoint the voices to the ensemble of talent. Their audio participation just threads through the fabric with ease.

Overall Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is a new take on a classic character. The introduction to Miles Morales will surely have been a tie dipping exercise for the studio testing the water with their fan base. They need not to have worried as Miles is a great interpretation of a character we all ready know but want to know more about this kid and how he will deal with “with great power, comes great responsibility” I really hope they go one further with a live action film in the next few years. Technically a masterpiece and a storyline on par with the visuals means I can’t recommend this enough. A must see!

Knowing (2009) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KNOWING

Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson (screenplay), Juliet Snowden (screenplay)
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn 

Knowing was released in 2009 and is Directed by Alex Proyas who you may know from such films as Dark City, I, Robot and Garage Days.

Knowing is about M.I.T. professor John Koestler played by Nicolas Cage who links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule from the past and predicts future disasters and he sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe. It’s similar to the Final Destination series where the main character Alex Browning foresees disasters before they happen although in Knowing it’s The End of the World. Movies like the Number 23 and even The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that mix Science and Numbers have always fascinated me. This movie is no different in that aspect.

I have to admit that I was concerned that the reveal of what these numbers meant and where the story was going was all explained within the first 45 minutes of the movie and I knew the running time was just over 2 hours that this movie would be running on empty after the first hour.

Thankfully the pacing of this film wasn’t rushed an although a lot happened within that first 45 minutes the story actually doesn’t feel rushed.

Koestler lives with his young son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) in an isolated house in the woods. After his wife passing it is clear to see that John Koestler is a man struggling to get by from day to day and this is clear in his alcohol intake.

The list of numbers that were passed to Caleb at the opening of the 50 year old time capsule intrigued the youngster enough to hold on to them to show his father who after stumbling across the number of specific dates in time of disasters with the number of fatalities and the coordinates of the position of these disasters becomes an obsession with professor John Koestler .

Cage’s portrayal of the professor is one of frustration “knowing’ this information and “knowing” there is absolutely nothing  you can do about it. Worryingly though for Kestler there are still numbers within the code that have yet to happen.

I must say “knowing” is an interesting plot and if I am honest I enjoyed most of the storyline. Similar to “Signs” there must be an explanation and a conclusion but how do you conclude a plot that has already emphasised to the audience that there is nothing you can do about these disasters, forthcoming disasters and the end of the world as we know it?

It is not clear who these men who visit Caleb as it is not established if they are angels or aliens. The movie isn’t heavy handed on the religious aspects although there are hints throughout the film they aren’t overly emphasised and it left up to the audience to decide how they wish to perceive the story in that aspect.

Interestedly this is the Film debut of Liam Hemsworth who has one scene in as a student in Koestler’s class. The rest of the cast is contained and I felt Rose Byrne and Ben Mendelsohn were great additions to the cast.

The Cinematography is eery and nice to look at. Even the CGI although from 2009 still holds up and the airplane crash sequence is still pretty impressive. I was a fan of the 1990’s Nicolas Cage and although i must admit that I strayed away from his work after the turn of the century. Knowing is the one that made me come back and look at his work and I must say I’m glad I gave this movie a chance. Recommended.

Kick-Ass (2010) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KICKASS

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman (screenplay),  Matthew Vaughn (screenplay)
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson,  Nicolas Cage,  Chloë Grace Moretz

I can recall when ‘Kick Ass’ was announced to be made into a live action movie. If my memory serves me correctly it was around the same time as ‘Watchmen’ that was released the year previously.

I have never admitted to being a comic book fanatic. I’m more of a regular main stream fan who grew up on Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and The Incredible Hulk. Mostly through the live action television series was as far as it went for me.

Looking at the artwork at both Kick Ass and Watchmen I have to admit I was more drawn to the story of Laurie and Sally Jupiter, Dr. Manhatten, Rorschach, Edward ‘The Comedian’ Blake and Dan Dreilberg and the dark world of Super Heroes that Zack Snyder had created for the cinematic experience based on the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel in comparison to Dave Lizewski’s scrawny teenage superhero Kick Ass.

If I could go back 7 years ago, I would kick myself for my ignorance and into the realisation that this movie like it’s comic book creator Mark Millar was a force to be reckoned with.

The first movie I saw of director Matthew Vaughn was the 2004 hard hitting movie Layer Cake starring Bond to be Daniel Craig and although an enjoyable movie at the time, it never really stuck with me the name “Matthew Vaughn” but having experienced his movies post “Kick Ass” it is clear to see why his movies are very memorable and have a certain style. When you mix that with the graphic novel of Mark Millar you have a recipe for something unique, very special and unexpected.

My first viewing of Kick Ass back in 2010 has stayed with me since that day as going into the movie unassuming and not expecting too much from it, I can recall being blown away by the story, the acting, the characters and the visuals.

“Kick Ass” is the story of Dave Lizewski, an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a superhero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so other than fed up being bullied and being a nobody.

Dave’s story up to the point of becoming a superhero is very similar to Spider-Man’s Peter Parker in every sense that like Peter, Dave wants a life of meaning, struggling with teen angst and up to this point, doesn’t really know what he wants from life. This is obviously where Dave Lizewski and Peter Parker’s lives stop and one lives in the real world and the other in comic book world.

Dave even questions to his two close friends Todd and Marty “why doesn’t someone become a superhero in real life” to which Marty explains because they wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the real world”

This is what I enjoy about the world of Kick Ass. Although in our real world Kick Ass is a comic Book hero, in Kick Ass the world is every bit as real.

With Dave hell bent on making a difference to the world. Things don’t go according to plan on his first outing as the green suited hero. In fact after confronting two thieves trying to jack a car. Kick Ass ends up being stabbed and if that’s not enough is then run over. It is at this point you realise how graphic this movie is going to be in its tone and more important it’s mature theme for a comic book hero. The scene also signifies the style of movie Vaughn is making here and it’s at this point I was hooked. It’s not that often you actually see the “Superhero” of the movie vulnerable, struggling with courage, scared and unsure of his decisions once committed to the confrontation.

Thankfully Dave survives (only just) and spends months recuperating from multiple operations in which metal plates are installed into his body and he has also lost a lot of feelings due to irreparable nerve endings, which sounds to me like the making of a superhero??? even Todd and Marty test Dave’s disabled nerve endings out and declare “You’re practically a superhero!”

With Dave now back to full health he sets up a website for victims to contact him to help them with an “any job, not to small” approach isn’t very successful until he helps a victim who is chased by five other guys and manages to fend them off, whilst all captured on mobile phones by the onlookers and downloaded on to YouTube where Kick Ass becomes an overnight internet sensation.

Up to this point I have to admit although I enjoyed the storyline but felt it may have peaked too soon. That is until Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hitgirl (Chloë Grace Moretz) enter the scene and notice this internet sensation and want to check him out to see if he is the real deal or not. In fact one of the most enjoyable lines comes from Cage who says after watching the YouTube video. “Maybe he should think about calling himself “Ass Kicked” Cage delivers this line in classic Adam West as Bruce Wayne fashion with an added snigger as to be pleased with his funny one liner.

Cage and Grace Moretz are perfect together as father and daughter fighting crime and I have to admit being shocked and amazed at Grace Moretz’s portrayal of the pint sized crime fighter. Her lines are delivered perfectly and up against the veteran actor there is natural chemistry between both of them and she really matches her on screen Dad in every scene they appear in. It’s a strange thing to say, considering the relationship but you would swear that Nick Cage is her real Dad, if that makes sense.

Also taking notice of the Kick Ass video is Dave’s classmate Chris D’Amico portrayed by the brilliant Christopher (McLovin) Mintz-Plasse. Chris is the son of big time gangster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and points out to his father the menace in his city who sets out to end Kick Ass’s rise to fame before he does any significant damage to the D’Amico Empire.

Both Mintz-Plasse and Strong appear to have a great relationship as far as acting goes although the characters appear to have little in common as Chris appears to be a disappointment to Frank in he seems to take after his mother rather than his father and Chris is aware of this and is desperate for his father’s approval convinces him to invest in a superhero costume and persona into luring Kick Ass into a trap. This sets up a brilliant climatic battle between our superheroes and the gangsters of the city and ends in once of my favourite onscreen moments involving a jet pack and An American Trilogy by Elvis Presley being played over this scene. It really is a great moment in the movie that will make the hairs on your arm stand up.

Overall Kick Ass is a stunning piece of work from all elements within the movie. The pacing is just right throughout the duration, the visuals are stunning and in particular the fighting sequences, the acting and casting is basically lightening in a bottle and with a great storyline and fantastic catchy soundtrack I found myself watching this movie over and over again. If you haven’t watched Kick Ass yet, where have you been? Highly recommend.