What was it that drove H.P. Lovecraft to envision such terrifying tales of unimaginable horror? He tried to figure out whether Nicolas Cage is good or bad. Season five of Community saw more brave souls attempting to peril that same question, and, as a result, pop culture buff Abed descends into what experts are now calling “Nicolas Cage Mania”, wherein he had a total meltdown in a style reminiscent of the actor’s many bombastic performances. Now we, too, will strap on our safety gear and get those movies streaming in the hopes of answering that age-old question: Nicholas Cage— good or bad?
Plot: Nick Cage finds secret numbers that help predict the end of the world. Can he save everyone in time using the power of math? Spoiler alert: no.
Cage-o-meter: While most disaster movies feature relatable, often cool, everyman characters dealing with somewhat coherent disasters, Knowing offers Nick Cage oscillating between acting somewhat normal and acting like a massive spazoid, and the results are hella entertaining.
Plot: Nick Cage and his trashy girlfriend try to get their lives straight by kidnapping a baby to raise as their own.
Cage-o-meter: Nick gets pretty friggin’ wild here, but it’s all according to the plan of the mad genius Coen brothers, so it’s okay.
The Wicker Man
Plot: A policeman investigates a girl who went missing from a small town. During his time in this town he finds evidence of a cult, punches a woman while wearing a bear suit, and gets stung by bees.
Cage-o-meter: This is grade-a, totally nuts, over-the-freaking-top Nicholas Cage. Don’t just take my word for it— check out this highlight reel of some of the best parts of The Wicker Man. Oh, and spoilers, obviously.
Plot: Before Michael Bay was known for making nothing but adolescent explosion movies that ruin your favorite childhood franchises, he occasionally made something half-decent, with The Rock being one of them. Here we have Cage as a chemical weapons specialist teamed up with Sean Connery’s MI-6 agent in order to take down a group of renegade marine terrorists hellbent on raining vengeance on the country they swore to protect.
Cage-o-meter: Cage gives a solid performance as Dr. Stanley Goodspeed, mixing humor when needed, but never taking things too far as to render his performance unbelievable.
Plot: A plane full of convicted felons gets hijacked in mid-air, and only Nick Cage can make things right.
Cage-o-meter: Surprisingly, our boy’s not the craziest member of the cast here, not with Steve Buscemi as the completely mental (and endlessly entertaining) Garland Greene.
It Could Happen to You
Plot: A waitress and a New York cop agree to go in on a lottery ticket together and split the winnings if they win, which they do.
Cage-o-meter: Nick’s pretty good in this one, foregoing the kind of bombastic performances he’s known for in favor of something a bit more subdued and real.
Plot: Cage plays twin brothers Charlie and Donald Kaufman. Charlie’s a sad sack of a writer struggling to adapt a popular book into a screenplay. Donald’s upbeat, outgoing, and both encourages and discourages his brother without realizing it. There’s also all kinds of meta craziness going on that might not be that interesting to you if you’re not a writer.
Cage-o-meter: This might be Cage’s finest work. He manages to portray the vastly different personalities of both brothers with a true sense of gravitas, losing himself completely in the characters while keeping them grounded and believable.
Plot: Nicholas Cage and John Travolta play a good guy and a badguy who trade faces because… reasons. They then each try to destroy each other’s life by pretending to be them and try to get their original faces back.
Cage-o-meter: Few plots are as famously stupid as Face/Off’s, and Nicholas Cage doesn’t disappoint with his performance. As the villainous Castor Troy he’s a wide-eyed madman, chewing the scenery with aplomb; as FBI agent Sean Archer he’s charismatic, but a little bit crazy.
Plot: A literary agent thinks he’s turning into a vampire when, in actuality, all he’s turning into is a crazy person.
Cage-o-meter: This is the magnum opus of insane Nicholas Cage leading roles. Cage pulls out all the stops here; he shouts, he rants, he attacks people. Like many of the other films on this list, neither Vampire’s Kiss nor Cage’s performance therein fit the traditional idea of “good”, but they’re so wildly entertaining it’s hard not to find some enjoyment in them.
Verdict: Nicholas Cage is both good and bad. He is his own yin and yang. He’s balanced in how unbalanced he is. Though this question may never be truly answered, one thing we do know is that without Nicholas Cage’s often uneven, always interesting, performances, the world would be a quieter, more boring place.
Now, let’s wrap up this look into Nick Cage with the appropriately-titled video, “Nicholas Cage Losing His S***”
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