The Death of KICK ASS

     August 23, 2008

Written by Charlie Smith

As reported earlier, Nicolas Cage has joined the cast of Matt Vaughn’s “Kick Ass”. If Cage is given more than three minutes of screen time, mark my words, this movie is going to suck.

I really don’t understand why directors insist on casting him. I guess technically he is still a name, but it has been years since the man has made a good movie (six years, to be exact. “Matchstick Men” was a great movie, but I’m going to give all the credit to Ridley Scott) and his name has become synonymous with critical disaster. Just a brief rundown of his recent theatrical torture shows: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”, “Next” (if you read my DVD review, it’s subtle, but if you examine the subtext, you might already know how I feel), “Ghost Rider”, “Wicker Man” (special mention for Nicky-boy crawling around the forest in a bear suit), and the forthcoming “Bangkok Dangerous”, which (surprise!!!!) won’t be screening for critics. While many of these films were dragged down by generally shoddy direction and poor writing, not one of them was helped by Cage’s droll monotone, creepy long hair to compliment a receding hair line, and his desperate attempts to prove to the world that he’s still 25 years old.

What I do understand is that there is a big difference between a critical success and a box office success. The sequel to “National Treasure” brought in the big bucks and “Ghost Rider” performed admirably worldwide, but I can’t really count these as indicative of Cage’s bankability as a star. The first “National Treasure” was extremely successful with families, so it was a no-brainer pumping out a second. “Ghost Rider” is a popular Marvel comic book character; as with almost all Marvel franchises, if you build it, they will come. Additionally, box office returns often have no correlation with the quality of the film in question: so many of my friends went and paid their ten dollars to see “Ghost Rider” only to depart the multiplex dazed, confused, and depressed that their money would now be used as an excuse for Nicolas Cage to star in more movies.

So now we have “Kick Ass”, a venerated comic book series about a high-schooler who wants to be a super hero, and he and his she-friend end up leaving a trail of bodies in the process. Any movie about kids who kill people automatically gets bumped up a grade in my book, but today’s news is horribly depressing. I know Vaughn needs to cast adults and they need to be famous adults to sell a movie about killer kids to a studio, but casting Nic Cage from the get go is the on screen equivalent of attaching Paul W.S. Anderson as director. Yes, it’ll sell some tickets, but it’ll only disappoint people who were actually looking forward to the movie while simultaneously convincing studios that Nic Cage should be in more movies. The last thing this world needs is more of his crap.

Will “Kick Ass” still be a good movie? Who the hell knows. “Layer Cake” was pretty good, “Stardust” was pretty good, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse looks primed to break the McLovin’ curse (I know he’s also in the upcoming “Role Models”, which looks pretty funny, but he’s basically playing a less cool McLovin, so for now the curse remains), so it was basically up, up, up until today’s news.

If you think I’m being too harsh, let me leave you with a few nuggets for your brain to nibble on. First, “Bangkok Dangerous” (which, again, won’t be screened for critics, meaning it’s great) is a remake of a 2001 Thai movie which is being made by the same team who made the original, which was actually pretty popular. It was exactly what it set out to be: a mindless, kinetic action movie, and reviewers said it was exactly that. Seven years later, “Dangerous 2.0” doesn’t want anyone to see it before audiences waste their money. Theories? Don’t worry, I’ll do the work for you: Nic Cage ruins everything. Nugget #2: Nicolas Cage was originally the forerunner to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s 2002 adaptation. That’s right, the same Peter Parker who was supposedly still in high school and was played by the baby-faced Toby Maguire was almost played by a man at least 20 years too old for the part.

Finally, and scariest of all, Nicolas Cage was also in the running in the early development stages to play Tony Stark/Iron Man in Jon Favreau’s awesome adaptation. Instead of the badass, sarcastic, best-actor-working-today Robert Downey Jr., we would have been treated to “Ghost Rider” two years in a row. Thank God for Robert Downey Jr.

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