Life isn’t as much fun if you’d don’t have at least a small corner in your heart reserved for Nicolas Cage. With his random career choices, occult-powered hairline and habit of SUDDENLY SHOUTING when you LEAST EXPECT IT, not forgetting a CV adorned with both classics and clunkers, he’s the most reliably erratic man in Hollywood – and we love him for it. Currently sneaking out films without anyone really noticing, Cage is tiptoeing back onto our screens with two thrillers this month, Trespass and this week’s Justice, both boasting reassuringly awful posters. But we’re not here to talk about them. Nope, we’re run the rule over Cage’s past poster shame, duff promotional jobs that have been something of a hallmark of the star’s career to date. Starting from the top, here’s Empire’s top ten eye-burners. Not the bees!
Narrowly squeaking past Season Of The Witch into the top ten, this flaming Nicolas Cage special does the impossible and makes the first National Treasure poster look like a Turner Prize nominee. Either Cage is auditioning for a spot on Mount Rushmore – ‘Washington! Lincoln! Roosevelt! Jefferson! Goodspeed!’ - or a Disney designer has stuck his head onto someone else’s body. If that doesn’t consign this poster to the Bad Photoshopping dungeon, there’s the blatant attempt to shoehorn as many monuments as possible into a tiny space with no regard for proportion or geography (what’s with the Derek Zoolander Capitol Hill? It needs to be at least three times that big) and throw in some fiery chaos around it. On the upside, once you’d waded through this lot you didn’t need to see the movie.
Have a look at this poster – does it make you want to watch this movie? No it doesn’t. It makes you want to never watch a movie again. It make you want to throw your DVD player out of the window, burn down your nearest multiplex and shout “Make it stop!” at the top of your lungs until innocent bystanders flee in terror. Here’s the weird thing, though: The Weather Man is not completely terrible. It may be uneven but it’s still sharp and satirical in a way that, say, The Family Man isn’t. Cage is in wry form throughout and, for the one and so far only time, he shares the screen with Michael Caine. Admittedly, he seems to have pointed his co-star towards his Captain Corelli accent coach – Caine’s isn’t so much an American accent as revenge for Dick Van Dyke – but the film still deserved a slightly better promo.
This poster sucks our souls out and plunges them into an endless vortex, there to float in endless torment until the end of days like some kind of promotional sarlacc pit. Say what you will about Brett Ratner, but we don’t think this is what he was aiming for.
As poster debuts go, Nicolas Cage’s doesn’t do him – or us – too many favours. This is one only a mum could be proud of, and even Mrs Cage would have serious issues trying to find her son’s face underneath the words ‘valley girl’. He’s Randy, a punk from Hollywood – because hey, punks are usually called things like ‘Randy’ – while she’s a dippy-but-charming girl from San Fernando: both of them are 700 feet tall. It’s like Clueless meets Godzilla. To distract us from the madness and stop our eyes from bleeding they’ve listed the entire soundtrack on the poster. Run! Run for your lives!
This Louisiana-set thriller was an early wrong-‘un in Cage’s otherwise masterly breakthrough period – the fish head in a Wild At Heart and Red Rock West gumbo. As you can see, the promo was so dangerously bad it had to be translated into Spanish to protect the innocent. The only forensic evidence of Cage’s sexy soul patch look is now kept under lock and key at a secret underground location. The film itself is an erotic New Orleans sizzler. How do we know this? Because nothing says ‘erotic New Orleans sizzler’ like Judge Reinhold with a caterpillar resting on his upper lip.
This ticks all the boxes for a John Woo movie poster. Giant explosions? Yep. Men running around with guns. Uh-huh. But wait, isn’t that Nicolas Cage letting the entire Allied war effort down with one moody glance. Why, yes it is! What is he doing? This is a war film – a WAR FILM – and he’s unleashed his ‘Moody Character Study’ look. Schoolmarine error. This poster would work if, instead of being a movie about codebreaking and the Pacific War and fighting the Japanese and generally shooting at stuff, Windtalkers was about a man who’s lost his car keys and gets the entire US Marine Corps to help him find them – but it isn’t, so it doesn’t.
Stuff tends to catch fire in Nic Cage posters, we know this. Heck, there’s probably a clause in his contract stipulating it. But this Movie Poster 101 blue-and-orange effort gives us a CG fireball so devastating it’s made a city melt and melted the boilerplate into italics for good measure. So what can be so interesting that EVERYONE IS LOOKING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION? If it’s not a unicorn juggling, Lord Lucan jelly-wrestling Aquagirl, or someone laser-bowling a kitten through ten-pins, we’re going home.
Short of calling the movie “Holy Shit, Don’t Watch This”, the marketing peeps couldn’t have done a much better job of scaryifying audiences away with this Cage special. Didn’t half work, either: it made peanuts and change at the box office, despite David Caruso’s levels of hard-boiledness tipping towards ‘critical’. What are they all looking at? What’s happening?! Cage seems to be pitching a weird Face/Off sequel in which he steals Rip Torn’s facial hair, Caruso is furrowing the hardest-working brow in the business and that building has sprouted a bad case of Samuel-L.-Jackson-head. No wonder that poor guy is running.
Silly movie, even sillier poster. In case all that soft-focusy bleughness isn’t enough to turn your tummy like a bowl of curdled yak milk, Penelope Cruz’s cleavage seems to be launching an entire squadron of fighter planes. Even Pedro Almodovar in his kinky prime wouldn’t have attempted this. Why? Because it’s madness - and historically inaccurate. But then Cage isn’t entirely blame-free amid all this quease-inducing pixellation. For one thing, his hairline is heading towards Turkey and for another, he’s going in for that kiss from a very strange angle that suggests he’s hovering in the air like Tom Cruise in the first Mission: Impossible. That accent isn’t enough weirdness for Nicolas Cage in this film. Nope, he has to defy gravity too.
And our winner is… [drum roll]… well, it’s this – you can see it [cancel drum roll]. As previously noted there’s a world of wrong contained within this unexcellent one-sheet – the missing gun, the lava flow-style flame, the total defiance of conventional physiology – but with a film this shoddy, perhaps it’s a handy caveat emptor for chin-stroking cinemagoers. We’d like to think that 20 minutes after they finished this ungodly mess the poster for Ong-bak turned up and beat it to death.