Category: movies

The director sat at the head of the long table wearing a large smile and a dark green shirt that complemented his deep tan. “The casting job was amazing, Percy.” He spoke in a low tone to the screenwriter, seated at his right side and looking unrested in a ragged pullover shirt and three days of beard stubble. “You won’t believe it. Felice found the perfect actor for every part. She went like three extra miles to be mega-diverse, with a capital m-d.”

Percy Luttington gulped at his iced espresso, which was now mostly ice and less espresso, nodding nervously at the table of actors. “Felice is very real. She’s always on it. The thing for me, Rule, is it’s all about the story. Whoever can tell the truth of this story, that’s who we need.”


Hollywood continues its love affair with updating classic fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Zero Dark Thirty) with this supercharged rendition of the tale about a straw-spinning gnome.

Nicolas Cage (Season of the Witch) stars as Rumpelstiltskin in this kick-ass re-telling under the direction of Hobbitastic director Peter Jackson.  Jackson has expanded the tale to an ample 228 minutes, giving plenty of time for the backstory of Rumple’s dad Umple Stiltskin (a scary Christopher Walken).  Umple first learns the family trademark trick of spinning straw into gold by a painstaking learning process under the tutelage of eccentric alchemist Tudolbach the Black (Ian McKellan).  Walken brings his customary intensity to the role (‘How long do I have to spin this crap?’).

Umple and Tudolbach go on a long, crisis-ridden journey to meet the King of the Slavering Worms, a hideous creature (Andy Serkis) who tells the tragic tale of how the Slavering Worms lost the lease on their long term worm hole through the mismanagement of the untrustworthy, unscrupulous worm financier Wormcoin (Sasha Baron Cohen).  Look for Wormcoin’s hilarious ‘Curl Round the Coins’ song and dance in the cobweb-ridden WormLair.

The film really takes off in the third hour when the tale of Rumple takes center stage.  Rumple laments the origin of his name (stemming from his tendency to get out of bed without combing his hair or changing his sleepwear for a shirt and slacks).  He goes through an extended stretch of therapy, trying to overcome the inferiority complex brought on by the teasing kids at school.  (Look for Elijah Wood in a miniaturized flashback role as Tubby Hoarsevoice).  Rumple soon falls headlong into a torrid romance with his therapist, the Ice Doctor.  The romance only ends when Rumple sees the Ice Doctor’s beautiful sister Simpie (Jennifer Lawrence) getting into her beat-up Pontiac and follows her on his fiery, souped-up Segway to her family home at a farmhouse in rural Montana.

The farm is about to be taken over by a corporate multinational headed by greedy tycoon Temple Kingley (John Goodman).  Desperate to avoid the depredations of the conglomerate, the farmer frantically claims that only his daughter has the talent to spin straw into gold, locking her into a hay-filled silo overnight to prove it.  Simpie, of course, has no such knowledge, and is panicking, but then just grows baffled when Rumple shows up.  Cage, as Rumple, makes an unnerving display of frantically turning all the straw into gold, running manically, sweating, barking orders at his invisible minion helpers and generally exulting in a frenzied alchemical workout.

Temple Kingley locks Simpie away for a second night, hoping for a repeat performance.   But here the movie departs from the traditional tale, as Rumple shows up with a bazooka, lasciviously kidnaps Simpie, rips his shirt off and goes on a shooting rampage, attacking all the livestock in the general vicinity.  To end the slaughter, Simpie must discover Rumple’s real name, which she does by hacking into his personal Spotify account.

Cage is at his furious best as Rumple, delivering throat-scouring battle cries as he decimates one Holstein after another.  The sight of his 3D-rendered veins popping from his forehead is alone worth the price of admission.  Lawrence runs the gamut from coy would-be straw-spinner to tempestuous fairy tale vixen.  Watch for the sultry scene where she uses her crimson lingerie to get Rumple to nearly reveal his long held secret.  Finally, while the presence of the diaphanous Elf Queen near the end of the film is nearly inexplicable, it’s always good to see Bjork in a suitable role.

While Rumpelstiltskin purists may protest that there is no livestock slaughter, no corporate takeover and no sultry seduction scene in the original tale, if they turn up their noses at this blockbuster they’ll miss out on the excitement Jackson brings to the tale, including the overpowering avalanche that nearly capsizes the steamship Longhorn as it docks in Ecuador.  Recommended to action-loving fairy tale fans everywhere!


Be sure to check out my collection of ‘screamingly funny’ sci-fi tales in Space Command and the Planets of Doom:

Nicolas Cage Projects Stalled in Development


Hollywood’s anti-visionaries are at it again, keeping some of the most enticing projects in town tied up in endless rewrites.  Thanks to these sluggards, all of us Cageheads out here in the Cage Fan Nation only saw one new Cage movie last year.  Any year without at least four new Nic pics is a year wasted.  So get your e-mails flooding into these stuffed shirts’ offices so we can get our Nic-o-time now!


FireHead – In this promising concept, an emotionally volatile, devil-may-care detective suddenly acquires the occult power of turning his entire head into a ball of seething flames.  Soon Buck Firehead (Nicolas Cage) is roaring across the country on his souped-up Segway, his head bursting into a weaponized inferno of death at the slightest provocation.  Cate Blanchett is under consideration to play Rixette, the sexy, gritty biker chick who knows FireHead’s darkest secret (that his head often turns into a ball of fire).


Man With The Future Brain – A paranormal action thriller, this gonzo concept tracks the tale of Professor Oscar T. ‘Nostro’ Damus (Nicolas Cage), whose migraine-inducing visions of future events disturb his lectures when they appear as extremely dramatic PowerPoint presentations on his classroom Smart Boards.  Damus, a volatile, emotionally high-strung, no-holds-barred, academic maverick (with wacky thrift store shoes), tries to keep his prophetic powers secret from wise and canny department chair Hirschorn Cleveland  (Morgan Freeman).  But when his entire class sees his vision of humanity being incinerated by a band of flaming Hellriders in an apocalyptic wave of fire outside the Reno city limits, Damus must spring into action.  Shia LeBeouf is on the short list of candidates to play Damus’ charming, but feckless, assistant, Ouija.


National Treasure III: Catacombs with Numerous Secret Passages – In this projected sequel, currently in its fourth rewrite, we become reacquainted with Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) lecturing on his best seller, “Building Your Own Ridiculously Elaborate Cavernous Labyrinth”, when he stumbles upon the fact that secret crypts located under St. Louis are carved with hieroglyphics created by Theodore Roosevelt in which the Rough Rider predicted a swarm of 21st century plagues that would bring clouds of psychic, but still very hungry, locusts down on the Plains States in herds of destruction.  Gates is soon exploring the crypts with new romantic interest, entomologist Shecky Dyerson (Amy Poehler, in a rare dramatic turn) and exploding into volatile fits of disagreement with his father via cell phone (whose voice goes unheard due to Jon Voight’s unusual compensation requirements).


FireManiac – Volatile, drunken con-man Ty Kibler (Cage), haunted by his three failed marriages and the two Southeast Asian refugees he adopted then abandoned to fend for themselves on a desolate Caribbean Island, is transformed by an encounter in Las Vegas with Sinoa Lodilla (Halle Berry) a sleek, but volatile, temptress who’s a craps dealer by day and a Satanic biker/whorehouse madam by night.   When Kibler has inexplicable visions of himself making maniacal love to Sinoa in an Egyptian temple lit by sensual torches, he suddenly finds himself possessing the powers of FireManiac, a leather-jacket-wearing hellion who shoots fatal jets of fire from his index fingers at criminal wrongdoers.  Jack Black is attached to portray Sinoa’s charming but sleazy pimp, Sleazeboy.


Devil Dice, Asshole! – Washed-up professional poker player and volatile, emotionally distraught Las Vegas weatherman Troy Hellburner (Cage) gets a chance to redeem himself when Thai opium smuggler Sweet Lip (Penelope Cruz) hires him to waste her Chinese arch-enemies by strafing their fields with napalm from a motorized hang glider.  But when Troy’s glider is shot down by former Maoist general turned drug-dealer Ching Fick (Chow Yun-Fat), he becomes enmeshed in a high stakes game of tossing small white dice where Satan controls the odds and only Troy’s willingness to sell his soul to a cackling Chinese demon (Margaret Cho) can save Lip’s opium harvest and redeem two Chinese orphans who appear outside the hut sometime during the game.