The Ballad of Nic Cage

Tomorrow sees the release of Season Of The Witch, merely the latest in an increasingly-long line of random Nic Cage movies of surprisingly low quality (See also Ghost Rider, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, either of the National Treasure movies, and so on, and so on). Considering that we've seen proof that Cage is actually better than these movies, it's worth asking: Why does he keep doing this to himself?

The idea of actors slumming it isn't exactly a new one - Hello, the majority of the acting career of Orson Welles - or a rare one (Why, Robert De Niro! How did you enjoy Meet The Fockers?), but there's no denying that it's one that Nic Cage seems to have fully and wholeheartedly embraced: Take a look at his acting resume for a truly impressive list of schlock occasionally punctuated by glory. Unlike other actors' shitty careers, he doesn't seem to have slowly sunken into the mire or be permanently stuck there, toiling in obscurity and the fantasies of bloggers and filmgeeks worldwide; he'll mix Adaptation and Matchstick Men with Bangkok Dangerous and Drive Angry 3D without batting an eyelid, like it's part of some grand plan that you can't quite understand because he's like Movie Batman and you're just Green Arrow at best. So what could that plan be? Here are some potential theories:

Nic Cage Really Needs The MoneyIf there's one thing that life and many British costume dramas about the working class has taught me, there's no shame in doing whatever it takes to stay in work, even if it means agreeing to make a second Ghost Rider movie. We know that Cage has had to sell off a comic collection that included the first appearances of Superman, the Fantastic Four, the Justice League of America and more, and maybe that happened purely because he couldn't get a movie to happen that month and bills had to be paid. These things happen, right?

Nic Cage Has Really Terrible Luck, And Keeps Signing On To Movies That Start Off Looking Promising, But End Up Falling Far Short Of Their PotentialLet's be honest: Who really thought that an animated revival of Astro Boy or updated remake of The Wicker Man would suck quite so badly? For all we know, when Cage signs on to a project - the National Treasure movies, say - he's been given the greatest pitch ever ("It'll be like an updated Indiana Jones, only with better special effects! And about American history!") and fully believes that everything he's saying yes to has the potential to be the greatest movie ever, only to be disappointed later on, when he's contractually bound to finish what he's started?

Nic Cage Has Really Bad TasteAs terrible as G-Force and that Wicker Man remake may be, perhaps Cage doesn't share that opinion. There's no accounting for taste, as the saying goes, and you only have to look at the success of something like Two And A Half Men to see that all manner of people like all manner of terrible things. We all want our favorite actors to share our tastes and know when they're taking part in things that're quite clearly beneath them, but reality says that that's fairly unlikely. Perhaps Nic Cage's entire career is nothing but an IMDb-searchable illustration of that point.

Nic Cage Has Transcended Taste AltogetherThis is my favorite potential explanation: What if Nic Cage really doesn't care about what he's making? What if he's reached some hyper-advanced zen state where he realizes that, because taste is purely subjective, it doesn't actually exist and therefore the very idea of whether a movie is "good" or "bad" is meaningless when it comes to agreeing to star in a movie? Perhaps this advanced Cage is, instead, operating on a mental framework near-unimaginable-to-we-humans and choosing projects based upon reasons that we can't even fathom without blood coming from our ears and horrific fits of shaking and perhaps vomiting. Prepare your mind! There's a chance it might be "blown"!!

The truth, of course, is more likely some combination of the first three options, but at this stage, I'm not sure that any explanation would properly explain Cage's frustrating, occasionally comedic, sometimes tragic career. He does his best to hide his light under stalled franchise bushels and big budget failures, but somewhere within Cage is one of the best actors of his generation. It'd be really great if, one day, he'd actually realize that for himself and act like it.

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