The rollercoaster career of Nicolas Cage hit rock bottom last weekend as Season of the Witch bombed in US cinemas, his fifth flop since 2007's National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and was mercilessly pilloried by critics.
The supernatural thriller featuring Cage as a 14th Century knight who's asked to transport an accused witch to a remote abbey in hopes of ending the Black Plague, scored a pathetic 4% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, with three positive (or 'fresh') reviews versus 71 rotten.
That's his second worst grading on the Tomatometer since he got 0% for Deadfall in 1993. The new movie financed by the usually astute Relativity Media, which Roadshow will release in Oz on February 24, racked up an estimated $US10.7 million in the US, another lame result after the failures of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Kick-Ass, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Bangkok Dangerous.
The only hit he's had in that period is Alex Proyas' Knowing, which earned $183 million at cinemas worldwide. Typifying the critical hammering for Season of the Witch, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers declared, “It's as bloodless as a starved vampire. Instead of a review, it deserves a stake in the heart. Die, monster, die.”
Said Cinematical's Eric D. Snider: “This is how Monty Python and the Holy Grail would have turned out if it had been funny unintentionally instead of intentionally.”
And this from Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman: “It's got videogame-from-hell F/X, plus jousting, plus Cage in tangled long hair he seems to have mistakenly put in the washing machine.”
Of the fresh reviews, Time Out London's Tom Huddleston damned with faint praise: “It's creaky, predictable and frequently idiotic. But for a tipsy Saturday night, this should tick all the right boxes.”
Yet despite his cursed track record, the 46-year-old actor keeps jumping from film to film, payday to payday. His upcoming slate includes Drive Angry, a 3D thriller in which he plays a convicted felon who breaks out of prison to prevent the cult that murdered his daughter from sacrificing his infant granddaughter (opening here in May); the sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; and The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, about a guy who enlists the services of a vigilante group to help him settle the score after his wife is assaulted.
And he does have his defenders. MTV News' Eric Ditzian views the vitriol aimed at Cage's latest movie as unfair, reasoning, “When you realize that Cage and director Dominic Sena were aspiring to make a film in the vein of something like Attack of the Crab Monsters, it becomes clearer why Season of the Witch plays out the way it does.”
Cage told MTV, “I think at some point I wanted to make movies that celebrated actors like Christopher Lee and Vincent Price, and the great Roger Corman classics that are unafraid to explore the paranormal and the supernatural.”
I've not seen the movie but I doubt that anything Cage has done in the past decade will be remembered alongside the works of Lee, Price or Corman.