Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Nicolas Cage Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer

There’s a lot to be said for consistency, and for film fans, the ability to count on reliably great performances from an actor can be the difference between pre-ordering tickets weeks in advance or waiting until a movie comes out on home video. On the other hand, there’s also an undeniable excitement that comes with unpredictability, and Nicolas Cage‘s filmography is a perfect case in point. From toking up with Sean Penn’s Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High to waging chainsaw vengeance against the cultists that murdered his wife in Mandy — and beyond — Cage has racked up more than 100 film credits over the last several decades, delivering performances that range from Oscar-winning (Leaving Las Vegas) to wildly over the top (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) and starring in blockbuster fare (The Rock, National Treasure) as well as acclaimed indies (Raising Arizona, Joe), and we wouldn’t want him any other way.

Most recently, he’s gotten career-best accolades for the drama Pig. Nobody captures the camera’s attention quite like Nicolas Cage, and to honor all those years of singularly entertaining achievement, we’ve rounded up all of his major film roles, sorted by Tomatometer. Read on to see where your favorites rank, and remember: Not the bees!

#88

Deadfall (1993)
0%

#88
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A New Yorker (Michael Biehn) heads to California to find the look-alike brother (James Coburn) of his con-man father.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Coppola

#87

Grand Isle (2019)
0%

#87
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Walter and his neglected wife lure a young stranger into their Victorian home to escape from a hurricane. When the... [More]
Directed By: Stephen S. Campanelli

#86

Left Behind (2014)
1%

#86
Adjusted Score: 3289%
Critics Consensus: Yea verily, like unto a plague of locusts, Left Behind hath begat a further scourge of devastation upon Nicolas Cage's once-proud filmography.
Synopsis: The entire planet is thrown into mayhem when millions of people disappear without a trace -- all that remains are... [More]
Directed By: Vic Armstrong

#85

Arsenal (2017)
3%

#85
Adjusted Score: 4355%
Critics Consensus: Aside from an opportunity to watch a mustachioed Nicolas Cage acting from under a wig and behind a prosthetic nose, Arsenal has depressingly little to offer.
Synopsis: The Lindel brothers, Mikey and JP, only had each other to rely on growing up. As adults, JP finds success... [More]
Directed By: Steven C. Miller

#84

Outcast (2014)
4%

#84
Adjusted Score: 4031%
Critics Consensus: Unforgivably dull, Outcast fails to deliver virtually all of the goofy fun that should come from a movie starring Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen in ancient China.
Synopsis: A fugitive Chinese prince and his sister enlist the aid of two war-weary Crusaders (Nicolas Cage, Hayden Christensen) to help... [More]
Directed By: Nick Powell

#83

211 (2018)
4%

#83
Adjusted Score: 4606%
Critics Consensus: 211's disjointed assortment of action clichés and uninspired set pieces adds up to roughly zero.
Synopsis: Officer Mike Chandler and a young civilian passenger find themselves unprepared and outgunned when fate puts them squarely in-the-crosshairs of... [More]
Directed By: York Shackleton

#82
#82
Adjusted Score: 5506%
Critics Consensus: Loaded with talent but borderline unwatchable, Trapped in Paradise will leave viewers feeling the first part of the title and pining for the last.
Synopsis: Fresh out of prison, Alvin (Dana Carvey) and Dave Firpo (Jon Lovitz) pull their brother Bill (Nicolas Cage) back into... [More]
Directed By: George Gallo

#81
#81
Adjusted Score: 10640%
Critics Consensus: With murky cinematography, a meandering pace, a dull storyline, and rather wooden performances, The Pang Brothers' Hollywood remake of Bangkok Dangerous is unsuccessful.
Synopsis: Remorseless assassin Joe (Nicolas Cage) is in Thailand to complete a series of contract killings for a crime boss called... [More]
Directed By: Oxide Pang, Danny Pang

#80

Fire Birds (1990)
10%

#80
Adjusted Score: 9826%
Critics Consensus: Despite the talent on board, Fire Birds is little more than a subpar military adventure sporting video game-like action, outdated philosophy, and uneven acting.
Synopsis: Army lovers (Nicolas Cage, Sean Young) and their task-force leader (Tommy Lee Jones) join the drug war in Apache assault... [More]
Directed By: David Green

#79

Pay the Ghost (2015)
10%

#79
Adjusted Score: 9389%
Critics Consensus: Pay the Ghost takes a weak stab at supernatural horror, but ultimately, it's only viewers who will pay for watching this sloppily assembled picture.
Synopsis: Haunted by eerie images and unexplainable messages, a man (Nicolas Cage) tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of... [More]
Directed By: Uli Edel

#78
#78
Adjusted Score: 10658%
Critics Consensus: Dying of the Light envelops the spark of several intriguing talents, leaving audiences lost in a yawning void of uninspired filmmaking.
Synopsis: Forced into retirement and terminally ill, a CIA agent (Nicolas Cage) gets word that his longtime nemesis (Alexander Karim) has... [More]
Directed By: Paul Schrader

#77

Trespass (2011)
11%

#77
Adjusted Score: 12270%
Critics Consensus: Another claustrophobic thriller that Joel Schumacher can churn out in his sleep, Trespass is nasty and aggressive, more unpleasant than entertaining.
Synopsis: Fast-talking diamond dealer Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) and his wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman), live the good life in a beautiful... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#76
#76
Adjusted Score: 15379%
Critics Consensus: Slow, cheap-looking, and dull, Season of the Witch fails even as unintentional comedy.
Synopsis: His faith broken by many years fighting in the Crusades, a knight named Behman (Nicolas Cage) returns to Europe and... [More]
Directed By: Dominic Sena

#75

Tokarev (2014)
12%

#75
Adjusted Score: 11974%
Critics Consensus: Depressingly dull and all-around poorly made, Rage is the rare Nicolas Cage action thriller lacking enough energy to reach "so bad it's good" territory.
Synopsis: Following the kidnapping and murder of his daughter (Aubrey Peeples), a reformed criminal (Nicolas Cage) returns to his old ways... [More]
Directed By: Paco Cabezas

#74
Adjusted Score: 3771%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this animated retelling of Charles Dickens' classic tale, Ebeneezer Scrooge (Simon Callow) remains the same old curmudgeonly hermit. As... [More]
Directed By: Jimmy T. Murakami

#73
#73
Adjusted Score: 15313%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Diagnosed with a fatal condition, a mob enforcer leaves prison after 19 years and plots a bloody course of revenge... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Ku

#72

The Wicker Man (2006)
15%

#72
Adjusted Score: 18145%
Critics Consensus: Puzzlingly misguided, Neil LaBute's update The Wicker Man struggles against unintentional comedy and fails.
Synopsis: A reclusive lawman (Nicolas Cage) travels to a secluded island to search for a girl who has gone missing. Once... [More]
Directed By: Neil LaBute

#71
Adjusted Score: 15088%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After their ship is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the crew members of the USS Indianapolis face a harrowing nightmare... [More]
Directed By: Mario Van Peebles

#70

Amos & Andrew (1993)
17%

#70
Adjusted Score: 17326%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When erudite black playwright Andrew Sterling (Samuel L. Jackson) moves to a predominantly white suburb, the buffoonish local police surround... [More]
Directed By: E. Max Frye

#69
Adjusted Score: 21365%
Critics Consensus: With a weak script, uneven CG work, and a Nic Cage performance so predictably loony it's no longer amusing, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance aims to be trashy fun but ends up as plain trash.
Synopsis: Now hiding out in Eastern Europe, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is still struggling with the curse of the Ghost Rider... [More]

#68

Stolen (2012)
20%

#68
Adjusted Score: 18808%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A former thief (Nicolas Cage) has just 12 hours to come up with $10 million after his former partner (Josh... [More]
Directed By: Simon West

#67

Looking Glass (2018)
21%

#67
Adjusted Score: 20542%
Critics Consensus: Looking Glass gives Nicolas Cage a chance to turn in an atypically understated performance, but this is still a suspense thriller with a fatal dearth of suspense or thrills.
Synopsis: Ray must race to save his wife and himself from a gruesome secret connected to a desert hotel and the... [More]
Directed By: Tim Hunter

#66

Sonny (2002)
22%

#66
Adjusted Score: 22024%
Critics Consensus: Sonny is sunk by debuting director Nicolas Cage's evident inability to locate the heart of his movie's story - or properly modulate his cast's performances.
Synopsis: After a stint in the army, former male prostitute Sonny Phillips (James Franco) returns to his home in a run-down... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Cage

#65

G-Force (2009)
22%

#65
Adjusted Score: 26778%
Critics Consensus: G-Force features manic action, but fails to come up with interesting characters or an inspired plot.
Synopsis: Armed with the latest high-tech spy gear, a guinea pig named Darwin (Sam Rockwell) and his team of specially trained... [More]
Directed By: Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr.

#64

8MM (1999)
23%

#64
Adjusted Score: 25322%
Critics Consensus: Its sadistic violence is unappealing and is lacking in suspense and mystery.
Synopsis: Private detective Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) lives a normal life with his wife (Catherine Keener) and young daughter, until he... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#63
#63
Adjusted Score: 24641%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A tenacious federal agent traces the supply line of a group of cagey and experienced cocaine dealers.... [More]
Directed By: Jason Cabell

#62

The Runner (2015)
24%

#62
Adjusted Score: 23703%
Critics Consensus: In spite of a promising premise and a roundly talented cast, The Runner is a disappointing outing to be viewed by only the staunchest of Nicolas Cage completists.
Synopsis: An embarrassing video threatens the career of an idealistic Louisiana congressman (Nicolas Cage) who dreams of running for the Senate.... [More]
Directed By: Austin Stark

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 12850%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the near future, global warming turns parts of the American Midwest into a desert. In its attempt to take... [More]
Directed By: Rob King

#60

Army of One (2016)
25%

#60
Adjusted Score: 19950%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gary Faulkner (Nicolas Cage), an ex-con, unemployed handyman, and modern day Don Quixote receives a vision from God telling him... [More]
Directed By: Larry Charles

#59
#59
Adjusted Score: 30115%
Critics Consensus: Even though Oscar-bearers Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Duval came aboard for this project, the quality of Gone in 60 Seconds is disappointingly low. The plot line is nonsensical, and even the promised car-chase scenes are boring.
Synopsis: Randall "Memphis" Raines long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after an ominous visit from an old friend, he... [More]
Directed By: Dominic Sena

#58

Ghost Rider (2007)
26%

#58
Adjusted Score: 31751%
Critics Consensus: Ghost Rider is a sour mix of morose, glum histrionics amidst jokey puns and hammy dialogue.
Synopsis: Years ago, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sold his soul to save the life of a loved one. Now,... [More]
Directed By: Mark Steven Johnson

#57

Justice (2011)
28%

#57
Adjusted Score: 29717%
Critics Consensus: Seeking Justice is nothing more than a typical potboiler with another phoned-in performance by Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: A stranger (Guy Pearce) approaches a high-school teacher (Nicolas Cage) and offers to punish his wife's (January Jones) attacker.... [More]
Directed By: Roger Donaldson

#56
Adjusted Score: 31336%
Critics Consensus: The cinematography is gorgeous, but the movie plays it fast and loose with history and the novel it was adapted from. Mostly, the movie fails because the romance between the leads strains credulity and the story is largely uninvolving.
Synopsis: An epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

#55

Next (2007)
28%

#55
Adjusted Score: 33268%
Critics Consensus: Numerous plot holes and poorly motivated characters prevent Next from being the thought-provoking sci-fi flick it could've been.
Synopsis: Blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see events minutes before they occur, Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) earns a living... [More]
Directed By: Lee Tamahori

#54

Inconceivable (2017)
31%

#54
Adjusted Score: 30022%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Angela develops a friendship with a mysterious woman named Katie and offers her a job as a live-in nanny. The... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Baker

#53

Zandalee (1991)
33%

#53
Adjusted Score: 17734%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An artist (Nicolas Cage) drifts to New Orleans and explores the theme of lust with his poet buddy's (Judge Reinhold)... [More]
Directed By: Sam Pillsbury

#52

Windtalkers (2002)
33%

#52
Adjusted Score: 37332%
Critics Consensus: The action sequences are expertly staged. Windtalkers, however, sinks under too many clichés and only superficially touches upon the story of the code talkers.
Synopsis: Marine Joe Enders (Nicolas Cage) is assigned to protect Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) -- a Navajo code talker, the Marines'... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#51

Knowing (2009)
34%

#51
Adjusted Score: 40361%
Critics Consensus: Knowing has some interesting ideas and a couple good scenes, but it's weighted down by its absurd plot and over-seriousness.
Synopsis: Fifty years after it was buried in a time capsule, a schoolgirl's cryptic document falls into the hands of Caleb... [More]
Directed By: Alex Proyas

#50
Adjusted Score: 41221%
Critics Consensus: A talented cast goes to waste in the improbable National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which is eerily similar to the first film.
Synopsis: When a long-missing page from the diary of assassin John Wilkes Booth suddenly resurfaces, it implicates the great-great grandfather of... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#49

Primal (2019)
37%

#49
Adjusted Score: 38020%
Critics Consensus: Chiefly of interest to Nicolas Cage completists and hardcore B-movie fans, this action thriller suffers from an unfortunate lack of Primal energy.
Synopsis: Hunter and collector Frank Walsh expects a big payday after bagging a priceless white jaguar for a zoo. But the... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Powell

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 46386%
Critics Consensus: It has a likable cast and loads of CGI spectacle, but for all but the least demanding viewers, The Sorcerer's Apprentice will be less than spellbinding.
Synopsis: Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) is just an average guy, but the wizard Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) sees in him a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#47

Snake Eyes (1998)
41%

#47
Adjusted Score: 43266%
Critics Consensus: Snake Eyes has a number of ingredients that promise a trashy fun time; unfortunately, they're lost in an energetic and stylish thriller with a frustratingly hollow core.
Synopsis: Detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage) has never played by the rules. When he attends a high-profile boxing match with his... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: 51400%
Critics Consensus: National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot.
Synopsis: Historian and code-breaker Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been searching his whole life for a rumored treasure dating back to... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#45

Drive Angry (2011)
48%

#45
Adjusted Score: 51336%
Critics Consensus: It may deliver the over-the-top action pieces, but Drive Angry prefers to work safely within grindhouse formula than do something truly unique.
Synopsis: Thrown into hell for his crimes, brutal felon John Milton (Nicolas Cage) escapes from the fiery pit after cultists murder... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Lussier

#44

Dog Eat Dog (2016)
49%

#44
Adjusted Score: 52722%
Critics Consensus: Dog Eat Dog's refreshing bundle of quirks and surfeit of visual style aren't quite enough to compensate for an aimlessly forgettable story.
Synopsis: Ex-cons, Troy (Nicolas Cage), Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), are hired by an eccentric mob boss... [More]
Directed By: Paul Schrader

#43

Astro Boy (2009)
50%

#43
Adjusted Score: 55326%
Critics Consensus: While it isn't terribly original, and it seems to have a political agenda that may rankle some viewers, Astro Boy boasts enough visual thrills to please its target demographic.
Synopsis: In futuristic Metro City, a brilliant scientist named Tenma builds Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore), a robotic child with superstrength, X-ray... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers

#42

The Family Man (2000)
53%

#42
Adjusted Score: 57760%
Critics Consensus: Despite good performances by Cage and especially by Leoni, The Family Man is too predictable and derivative to add anything new to the Christmas genre. Also, it sinks under its sentimentality.
Synopsis: Jack's lavish, fast-paced lifestyle changes one Christmas night when he stumbles into a grocery store holdup and disarms the gunman.... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#41

Con Air (1997)
56%

#41
Adjusted Score: 59935%
Critics Consensus: Con Air won't win any awards for believability - and all involved seem cheerfully aware of it, making some of this blockbuster action outing's biggest flaws fairly easy to forgive.
Synopsis: Just-paroled army ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) is headed back to his wife (Monica Potter), but must fly home aboard... [More]
Directed By: Simon West

#40

Guarding Tess (1994)
57%

#40
Adjusted Score: 58771%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Doug Chesnic (Nicolas Cage), an agent with the Secret Service Uniformed Division, is assigned to protect former first lady Tess... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Wilson

#39

City of Angels (1998)
59%

#39
Adjusted Score: 61945%
Critics Consensus: City of Angels may not tug the heartstrings as effortlessly as it aims to, but the end results will still leave more than a few viewers in tears.
Synopsis: This is the story of Seth (Nicolas Cage), an angel who wanders the Los Angeles area invisible to humans. As... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#38

The Weather Man (2005)
59%

#38
Adjusted Score: 63076%
Critics Consensus: With fine performances and a dark, dry sense of humor, The Weather Man is mostly cloudy with occasional rays of sunshine.
Synopsis: David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a Chicago weatherman who, despite success at his job, is deeply unhappy. Eclipsed by his... [More]
Directed By: Gore Verbinski

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 57084%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In their last weeks before deployment to World War II as Marines, teenage friends Henry Nash (Sean Penn) and Nicky... [More]
Directed By: Richard Benjamin

#36

Vampire's Kiss (1989)
61%

#36
Adjusted Score: 61231%
Critics Consensus: He's a vampire! He's a vampire! He's a vampire!
Synopsis: The life of white-collar New Yorker Peter (Nicolas Cage) seems to revolve solely around making as much money and sleeping... [More]
Directed By: Robert Bierman

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 62552%
Critics Consensus: Though this by-the-numbers true procedural seems basic, The Frozen Ground presents a welcome return for Nicolas Cage in a solid performance.
Synopsis: A teenage escapee (Vanessa Hudgens) provides a critical break in the case, as an Alaskan detective (Nicolas Cage) hunts a... [More]
Directed By: Scott Walker

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 65016%
Critics Consensus: Willy's Wonderland isn't quite as much fun as its premise would suggest -- but it's still got Nicolas Cage beating the hell out of bloodthirsty animatronics, which is nice.
Synopsis: A quiet loner (Nicolas Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Lewis

#33

Lord of War (2005)
61%

#33
Adjusted Score: 66567%
Critics Consensus: While Lord of War is an intelligent examination of the gun trade, it is too scattershot in its plotting to connect.
Synopsis: The 20-year arms dealing career of Queens, N.Y., outcast Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) serves as a window onto the end... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#32

Snowden (2016)
61%

#32
Adjusted Score: 76358%
Critics Consensus: Snowden boasts a thrilling fact-based tale and a solid lead performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, even if director Oliver Stone saps the story of some of its impact by playing it safe.
Synopsis: Disillusioned with the intelligence community, top contractor Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) leaves his job at the National Security Agency. He... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#31

The Ant Bully (2006)
62%

#31
Adjusted Score: 65621%
Critics Consensus: Sometimes inventive and witty, this animated adventure into an ant-sized world is a pleasant diversion.
Synopsis: Tired of weathering constant attacks on their colony, ants shrink a destructive boy, named Lucas (Zach Tyler Eisen), to their... [More]
Directed By: John A. Davis

#30

The Trust (2016)
63%

#30
Adjusted Score: 65059%
Critics Consensus: The Trust may not be an all-time heist classic, but its solidly workmanlike plot -- and the chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood -- should satisfy genre enthusiasts.
Synopsis: Corrupt cops working in the police department evidence room make plans to rob a vault full of drug money in... [More]

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 65197%
Critics Consensus: Honeymoon in Vegas is a light screwball comedy that has just about what you expect (and nothing you don't).
Synopsis: After losing $65,000 to professional gambler and con man Tommy Korman (James Caan), penniless private investigator Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage)... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Bergman

#28

Wild at Heart (1990)
67%

#28
Adjusted Score: 70522%
Critics Consensus: One of director David Lynch's more uneven efforts, Wild at Heart is held together by his distinctive sensibilities and compelling work from Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern.
Synopsis: After serving prison time for a self-defense killing, Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) reunites with girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern). Lula's... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 76147%
Critics Consensus: As a visually stunning tribute to lives lost in tragedy, World Trade Center succeeds unequivocally, and it is more politically muted than many of Stone's other works.
Synopsis: Two Port Authority officers, Sgt. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Officer Will Jimeno (Michael Peña), become trapped in the rubble... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#26

Kiss of Death (1995)
67%

#26
Adjusted Score: 68029%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding ensemble cast propels Kiss of Death, a noir-ish crime thriller that's slick and big on atmosphere, even if its script may only provide sporadic bursts of tension.
Synopsis: After his time in prison, Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) keeps his head down and provides for his wife and kids,... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#25

The Rock (1996)
68%

#25
Adjusted Score: 71940%
Critics Consensus: For visceral thrills, it can't be beat. Just don't expect The Rock to engage your brain.
Synopsis: FBI chemical warfare expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is sent on an urgent mission with a former British spy, John... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 71695%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) is a simple, kindhearted New York City cop. When he realizes he has no money to... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Bergman

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 75659%
Critics Consensus: Stunning and compelling, Scorsese and Cage succeed at satisfying the audience.
Synopsis: After a disheartening and haunting career wears him down, New York City paramedic Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage) begins to collapse... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#22

The Croods (2013)
72%

#22
Adjusted Score: 76448%
Critics Consensus: While it may not be as (ahem) evolved as the best modern animated fare, The Croods will prove solidly entertaining for families seeking a fast-paced, funny cartoon adventure.
Synopsis: Prehistoric family the Croods live in a particularly dangerous moment in time. Patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), his mate, Ugga (Catherine... [More]

#21

Rumble Fish (1983)
74%

#21
Adjusted Score: 76664%
Critics Consensus: Rumble Fish frustrates even as it intrigues, but director Francis Ford Coppola's strong visual style helps compensate for a certain narrative stasis.
Synopsis: Disaffected and restless, Rusty James (Matt Dillon) is spoiling for a fight. Abandoned by his mother and living with his... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#20

Mom and Dad (2017)
75%

#20
Adjusted Score: 82866%
Critics Consensus: Mom and Dad's gonzo premise serves as an effective springboard for a wickedly dark, bloody comedy - and an appropriately over-the-top performance from Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: A teenage girl and her little brother try to survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of... [More]
Directed By: Brian Taylor

#19

Kick-Ass (2010)
76%

#19
Adjusted Score: 86391%
Critics Consensus: Not for the faint of heart, Kick-Ass takes the comic adaptation genre to new levels of visual style, bloody violence, and gleeful profanity.
Synopsis: Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero --... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#18

The Cotton Club (1984)
77%

#18
Adjusted Score: 77853%
Critics Consensus: Energetic and brimming with memorable performers, The Cotton Club entertains with its visual and musical pizazz even as its plot only garners polite applause.
Synopsis: The lives of various characters intersect at Harlem's renowned Cotton Club. Handsome horn player Dix Dwyer (Richard Gere) falls for... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#17
Adjusted Score: 82581%
Critics Consensus: While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life.
Synopsis: Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a pretty, but inexperienced, teen interested in dating. Given advice by her uninhibited friend,... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#16

Matchstick Men (2003)
82%

#16
Adjusted Score: 87343%
Critics Consensus: Breezy and well-acted, Matchstick Men focuses more on the characters than on the con.
Synopsis: Roy (Nicolas Cage), a depressed con artist with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Frank (Sam Rockwell), his partner, find their line of... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#15

Birdy (1984)
83%

#15
Adjusted Score: 83758%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Birdy (Matthew Modine) returns from the Vietnam War scarred from the horrific experiences of battle. He is so damaged by... [More]
Directed By: Alan Parker

#14

Valley Girl (1983)
83%

#14
Adjusted Score: 85176%
Critics Consensus: With engaging performances from its two leads, Valley Girl is a goofy yet amiable film that both subverts and celebrates the cheerful superficiality of teen comedies.
Synopsis: Lovely teen Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) is steeped in the excessive, pink-clad culture of the San Fernando Valley, complete with... [More]
Directed By: Martha Coolidge

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 88145%
Critics Consensus: Peggy Sue Got Married may seem just another in a line of '80s boomer nostalgia films, but none of the others have Kathleen Turner keen lead performance.
Synopsis: Peggy Sue Bodell (Kathleen Turner) attends her 25-year high school reunion after separating from her cheating husband, Charlie (Nicolas Cage).... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#12

Joe (2013)
86%

#12
Adjusted Score: 90344%
Critics Consensus: Rich in atmosphere and anchored by a powerful performance from Nicolas Cage, Joe is a satisfying return to form for its star -- as well as director David Gordon Green.
Synopsis: The rough-hewn boss (Nicolas Cage) of a lumber crew courts trouble when he steps in to protect the youngest member... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#11
Adjusted Score: 90537%
Critics Consensus: Befitting its unorthodox origins, this Bad Lieutenant benefits from Werner Herzog's typically fearless direction and a delightfully unhinged Nicolas Cage in the title role.
Synopsis: Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) isn't doing so well. He has a nasty painkiller addiction, courtesy of an injury he sustained... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 100443%
Critics Consensus: A welcome return for director Richard Stanley, Color Out of Space mixes tart B-movie pulp with visually alluring Lovecraftian horror and a dash of gonzo Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner and his family find themselves battling a... [More]
Directed By: Richard Stanley

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 93117%
Critics Consensus: Oscar-awarded Nicolas Cage finds humanity in his character as it bleeds away in this no frills, exhilaratingly dark portrait of destruction.
Synopsis: Adapted from the novel by John O'Brien, this acclaimed drama follows alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) as he drinks... [More]
Directed By: Mike Figgis

#8

Raising Arizona (1987)
91%

#8
Adjusted Score: 95570%
Critics Consensus: A terrifically original, eccentric screwball comedy, Raising Arizona may not be the Coens' most disciplined movie, but it's one of their most purely entertaining.
Synopsis: An ex-con and an ex-cop meet, marry and long for a child of their own. When it is discovered that... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#7
Adjusted Score: 97545%
Critics Consensus: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies distills the enduring appeal of its colorful characters into a charmingly light-hearted adventure whose wacky humor fuels its infectious fun -- and belies a surprising level of intelligence.
Synopsis: It seems that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies -- all but the Teen... [More]

#6

Adaptation (2002)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97000%
Critics Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.
Synopsis: Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

#5

Face/Off (1997)
92%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96505%
Critics Consensus: John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play cat-and-mouse (and literally play each other) against a beautifully stylized backdrop of typically elegant, over-the-top John Woo violence.
Synopsis: Obsessed with bringing terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) to justice, FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) tracks down Troy, who... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#4

Moonstruck (1987)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 98242%
Critics Consensus: Led by energetic performances from Nicolas Cage and Cher, Moonstruck is an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies.
Synopsis: No sooner does Italian-American widow Loretta (Cher) accept a marriage proposal from her doltish boyfriend, Johnny (Danny Aiello), than she... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#3

Red Rock West (1993)
95%

#3
Adjusted Score: 96586%
Critics Consensus: Red Rock West is a hidden neo-noir gem with some delightful cracks in its surface -- and an opportunity to see Lara Flynn Boyle, Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, and J.T. Walsh go toe-to-toe in all their early '90s glory.
Synopsis: When unemployed ex-marine Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage) stumbles into a bar in Red Rock, Wyo., the owner, Wayne (J.T. Walsh),... [More]
Directed By: John Dahl

#2

Pig (2021)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 109577%
Critics Consensus: Like the animal itself, Pig defies the hogwash of expectations with a beautiful odyssey of loss and love anchored by Nicolas Cage's affectingly raw performance.
Synopsis: Living alone in the Oregon wilderness, a truffle hunter returns to Portland to find the person who stole his beloved... [More]
Directed By: Michael Sarnoski

#1
Adjusted Score: 121255%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.
Synopsis: Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into... [More]

(Photo by 20th Century Fox. Thumbnail: Netflix/courtesy Everett Collection.)

The Worst Superhero Movies of All Time

Great leaping tomatoes! It’s the worst superhero movies ever, an infamous league of Rotten films that scored less than 30% on the Tomatometer!

First off, to keep this list spandex-tight, not only did we include superhero movies below 30%, but each had to have at least 20 reviews, guaranteeing enough critics witnessed of these erratic efforts, franchise non-starters, and would-be blockbusters.

After looking through the list, if you’re wondering why you didn’t see the 1990 Captain America movie, a bunch of those sequels to The Crow, or Dolph Lundgren’s The Punisher, they were cut out by not accumulating at least 20 critics reviews. But, don’t worry, still plenty of room for Frank in this castle of decrepitude, as the other two Punisher movies, the Thomas Jane one and War Zone, are represented. In fact, they both even currently have the same score at 29%, just squeezing into the list. And while most Audience Scores are in the same realm as its movie’s Tomatometer, there’s a divergence on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Dark Phoenix: Both Rotten movies according to the critics, but which settled above 60% on the Audience Score.

Nic Cage appears twice on this list because they made two Ghost Rider movies. Ryan Reynolds also shows up twice but in two separate franchises, mucking it up in both houses of Marvel and DC via Blade: Trinity and Green Lantern. And because who doesn’t like a comic book showdown, in the battle of Marvel vs DC over who’s made the most worst superhero movies, Marvel is “triumphant” with 10 listings, and DC at 9. We didn’t count The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the movie so bad it made Sean Connery quit acting, because though it was at the time produced at an imprint of an imprint of DC Comics (it’s imprint-ception, people), the comic was always wholly owned by its creator Alan Moore.

Of course, let’s not count out other labels making special appearances, like 2000 A.D. (Judge Dredd) or Image (Spawn). Then there’s the magic that happens when when Hollywood executives come together to create something that didn’t come from a comic book, with sparkling results like Tim Allen’s Zoom, an adaptation of TV cartoon Underdog, and the toy-based Max Steel.

One last thing: For movies with the same Tomatometer scores, whichever had more reviews was placed higher. Now, come take a flying leap as we rank the worst superhero movies of all time!

(And see a movie here you love and think ‘Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong’? Send us a note and we might cover your movie in our new podcast. Hit us up at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.)

#30
Adjusted Score: 56047%
Critics Consensus: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice smothers a potentially powerful story -- and some of America's most iconic superheroes -- in a grim whirlwind of effects-driven action.
Synopsis: It's been nearly two years since Superman's (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis.... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#29

Ghost Rider (2007)
26%

#29
Adjusted Score: 31751%
Critics Consensus: Ghost Rider is a sour mix of morose, glum histrionics amidst jokey puns and hammy dialogue.
Synopsis: Years ago, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sold his soul to save the life of a loved one. Now,... [More]
Directed By: Mark Steven Johnson

#28

Green Lantern (2011)
26%

#28
Adjusted Score: 34641%
Critics Consensus: Noisy, overproduced, and thinly written, Green Lantern squanders an impressive budget and decades of comics mythology.
Synopsis: Sworn to preserve intergalactic order, the Green Lantern Corps has existed for centuries. Its newest recruit, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds),... [More]
Directed By: Martin Campbell

#27

Suicide Squad (2016)
26%

#27
Adjusted Score: 50737%
Critics Consensus: Suicide Squad boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts, but they aren't enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing.
Synopsis: Figuring they're all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret... [More]
Directed By: David Ayer

#26

Blade: Trinity (2004)
25%

#26
Adjusted Score: 30942%
Critics Consensus: Louder, campier, and more incoherent than its predecessors, Blade: Trinity seems content to emphasize style over substance and rehash familiar themes.
Synopsis: The war between humans and vampires continues, but the humans' best hope, human-vampire hybrid warrior Blade (Wesley Snipes), has been... [More]
Directed By: David S. Goyer

#25

Bulletproof Monk (2003)
23%

#25
Adjusted Score: 27186%
Critics Consensus: Venerable action star Chow Yun-Fat is the only saving grace in this silly action flick that more often than not resembles a commercial in style.
Synopsis: For 60 years, a mysterious monk with no name (Chow Yun-Fat) has zigzagged the globe to protect an ancient scroll... [More]
Directed By: Paul Hunter

#24
Adjusted Score: 23102%
Critics Consensus: It's a case of one sequel too many for the heroes in a half shell, with a tired time-travel plot gimmick failing to save the franchise from rapidly diminishing returns.
Synopsis: Reporter April O'Neil (Paige Turco) purchases an ancient Japanese scepter that can cause those simultaneously holding it in different centuries... [More]
Directed By: Stuart Gillard

#23

Dark Phoenix (2019)
22%

#23
Adjusted Score: 45015%
Critics Consensus: Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc -- with deeply disappointing results.
Synopsis: The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe when one of their own, Jean Grey, starts to spiral out... [More]
Directed By: Simon Kinberg

#22

Judge Dredd (1995)
22%

#22
Adjusted Score: 24272%
Critics Consensus: Judge Dredd wants to be both a legitimate violent action flick and a parody of one, but director Danny Cannon fails to find the necessary balance to make it work.
Synopsis: In the crime-plagued future, the only thing standing between order and chaos is Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone). His duty:... [More]
Directed By: Danny Cannon

#21

Thunder Force (2021)
21%

#21
Adjusted Score: 28087%
Critics Consensus: It's got a few chuckles, but Thunder Force is largely a superhero comedy that's neither exciting nor funny -- and an egregious waste of its co-stars' talents.
Synopsis: Two childhood best friends reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people... [More]
Directed By: Ben Falcone

#20
Adjusted Score: 26659%
Critics Consensus: Neither entertaining enough to recommend nor remarkably awful, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may bear the distinction of being the dullest movie ever made about talking bipedal reptiles.
Synopsis: Spawned from a lab experiment gone awry, teenage terrapins Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael live in the sewers beneath New... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman

#19
Adjusted Score: 21365%
Critics Consensus: With a weak script, uneven CG work, and a Nic Cage performance so predictably loony it's no longer amusing, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance aims to be trashy fun but ends up as plain trash.
Synopsis: Now hiding out in Eastern Europe, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is still struggling with the curse of the Ghost Rider... [More]

#18

Spawn (1997)
17%

#18
Adjusted Score: 19439%
Critics Consensus: Spawn is an overbearing, over-violent film that adds little to the comic book adaptation genre.
Synopsis: Covert government assassin Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is killed after being double-crossed by his boss, Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen).... [More]
Directed By: Mark A.Z. Dippé

#17
Adjusted Score: 23265%
Critics Consensus: Just ordinary. LXG is a great premise ruined by poor execution.
Synopsis: A team of extraordinary figures culled from great adventure literature (including Alan Quatermain, vampiress Mina Harker from Dracula, the Invisible... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

#16

Underdog (2007)
16%

#16
Adjusted Score: 17350%
Critics Consensus: Underdog is a mostly forgettable adaptation that relies far too heavily on recycled material and sloppy production.
Synopsis: After a lab accident gives him extraordinary powers, including the ability to speak, a canine (Jason Lee) declares himself the... [More]
Directed By: Frederik Du Chau

#15
Adjusted Score: 15495%
Critics Consensus: No no, Power Rangers.
Synopsis: The young superheroes square off against an evil villainess who plots to free a fiery monster from its volcano cage.... [More]
Directed By: Shuki Levy, David Winning

#14

The Spirit (2008)
14%

#14
Adjusted Score: 17156%
Critics Consensus: Though its visuals are unique, The Spirit's plot is almost incomprehensible, the dialogue is ludicrously mannered, and the characters are unmemorable.
Synopsis: Apparently murdered cop Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) returns as the Spirit, dedicated to protecting Central City from crime. His archenemy,... [More]
Directed By: Frank Miller

#13

Howard the Duck (1986)
14%

#13
Adjusted Score: 15687%
Critics Consensus: While it has its moments, Howard the Duck suffers from an uneven tone and mediocre performances.
Synopsis: In this film based on the comic book character, Howard the Duck is suddenly beamed from Duckworld, a planet of... [More]
Directed By: Willard Huyck

#12

Steel (1997)
12%

#12
Adjusted Score: 11944%
Critics Consensus: Steel is a badly-acted movie that indulges not only in superhero cliches, but also the sappy TV-movie-of-the-week ones.
Synopsis: Former Army scientists (Shaquille O'Neal, Annabeth Gish), one in a steel suit, team up in Los Angeles against another (Judd... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Johnson

#11

Batman & Robin (1997)
12%

#11
Adjusted Score: 17028%
Critics Consensus: Joel Schumacher's tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that's too jokey to care much for.
Synopsis: This superhero adventure finds Batman (George Clooney) and his partner, Robin (Chris O'Donnell), attempting to the foil the sinister schemes... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#10

Jonah Hex (2010)
12%

#10
Adjusted Score: 16503%
Critics Consensus: Josh Brolin gives it his best shot, but he can't keep the short, unfocused Jonah Hex from collapsing on the screen.
Synopsis: Having cheated death, gunslinger and bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) has one foot in the natural world and one... [More]
Directed By: Jimmy Hayward

#9
Adjusted Score: 13609%
Critics Consensus: The Superman series bottoms out here: the action is boring, the special effects look cheaper, and none of the actors appear interested in where the plot's going.
Synopsis: Seeing the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a nuclear arms race that could lead to Earth's destruction,... [More]
Directed By: Sidney J. Furie

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 12508%
Critics Consensus: The Crow: City of Angels is a sloppy pretender that captures neither the mood nor energy of the original.
Synopsis: After mechanic Ashe (Vincent Perez) and his son (Eric Acosta) witness a murder, they are captured and killed by drug... [More]
Directed By: Tim Pope

#7

Elektra (2005)
11%

#7
Adjusted Score: 16419%
Critics Consensus: Jennifer Garner inhabits her role with earnest gusto, but Elektra's tone deaf script is too self-serious and bereft of intelligent dialogue to provide engaging thrills.
Synopsis: Assassin-for-hire Elektra (Jennifer Garner) works for a mysterious international organization known as the Hand, for which she kills her targets... [More]
Directed By: Rob Bowman

#6

Supergirl (1984)
9%

#6
Adjusted Score: 10233%
Critics Consensus: The effects are cheesy and Supergirl's wide-eyed, cheery heroine simply isn't interesting to watch for an hour and a half.
Synopsis: Kara (Helen Slater) of Argo City poses as Clark Kent's cousin, Linda Lee, to recover the Omegahedron from a witch... [More]
Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

#5

Catwoman (2004)
9%

#5
Adjusted Score: 15185%
Critics Consensus: Halle Berry is the lone bright spot, but even she can't save this laughable action thriller.
Synopsis: "Catwoman" is the story of shy, sensitive artist Patience Philips (Halle Berry), a woman who can't seem to stop apologizing... [More]
Directed By: Pitof

#4

Fantastic Four (2015)
9%

#4
Adjusted Score: 18685%
Critics Consensus: Dull and downbeat, this Fantastic Four proves a woefully misguided attempt to translate a classic comic series without the humor, joy, or colorful thrills that made it great.
Synopsis: Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways.... [More]
Directed By: Josh Trank

#3

Son of the Mask (2005)
6%

#3
Adjusted Score: 8693%
Critics Consensus: Overly frantic, painfully unfunny, and sorely missing the presence of Jim Carrey.
Synopsis: A cartoonist and family man, Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy) lives a peaceful existence with his wife, Tonya (Traylor Howard), as... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Guterman

#2

Zoom (2006)
4%

#2
Adjusted Score: 6239%
Critics Consensus: Lacking the punch and good cheer of The Incredibles and Sky High, Zoom is a dull and laugh-free affair.
Synopsis: Capt. Zoom, or Jack (Tim Allen), as he is now known, has long since given up his career of fighting... [More]
Directed By: Peter Hewitt

#1

Max Steel (2016)
0%

#1
Adjusted Score: 396%
Critics Consensus: Bereft of characterization or even satisfying rock 'em sock 'em, Max Steel feels like futzing with an action figure without any childhood imagination.
Synopsis: Teenager Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) discovers that his body can generate the most powerful energy in the universe. Steel (Josh... [More]
Directed By: Stewart Hendler

Hugh Jackman delivers his slicey swan song as Wolverine in Logan, the R-rated for-realsies conclusion to the arc of Marvel’s famous X-Man. This week’s gallery pays tribute to the Marvel movies that existed before and now compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe — read on for the best & worst Marvel movies (outside the MCU)!

It’s time for another comic book convention, and we at RT are hitting WonderCon in Los Angeles the whole weekend to take photos of the most creative and dedicated cosplayers at the convention. Scroll down for our selection.


Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10243930[/rtimage]

Part 15: Ghost Rider (2007, 27% @ 131 reviews)

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, starring Nicolas Cage, Wes Bentley, Eva Mendes, Sam Elliot

Ryan: Over my lifetime, my feelings on Nic Cage have gone from apathy to distaste to befuddlement to acceptance and, finally, amusement. Nowadays, I tend to enjoy the way he throws himself into every role, primarily because I get a kick out of his wild antics and hilarious facial expressions. With that in mind, I was actually prepared to give Ghost Rider the benefit of the doubt; I kind of wanted to like it, and was half expecting that I would.

Unfortunately, despite the abundance of Nic Cage freakouts, some surprisingly effective (at times) CGI, and the unexpected presence of Sam Elliott, the film is simply plagued by too many little issues to earn even a begrudging seal of approval from me. The three things I had the most trouble accepting? 1) Ghost Rider suffers from tonal schizophrenia, melding silly gags (a motorcycle that comes when you whistle for it) with demonic imagery a bit too intense for younger audiences; 2) Wes Bentley, while certainly creepy, is not menacing at all, and he thus makes for a poor central villain; and 3) little details go unexplained, resulting in either confusion or too great a suspension of disbelief (how exactly does one “outrun the devil,” and why is it apparently so damn easy to do?). But let me emphasize again that those are just three of the problems; there’s lots to talk about here.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10243929[/rtimage]

Jeff: There’s a certain cheese factor built into every superhero movie — what looks awesome on the page doesn’t automatically translate well on screen, and that includes dudes in costumes battling it out while the fate of the world/universe hangs in the balance. There are two main ways of dealing with this: you either treat these struggles as one part of an otherwise ordinary framework, and ask your audience to suspend disbelief as little as possible, or you embrace the campy humor of it all.

Ghost Rider chose the latter option (most of the time, anyway), and it sort of undermines the entire movie’s reason to exist. In the comics, Ghost Rider isn’t cheesy at all — in the ’70s and ’80s, when I read the books, he might have been the most badass Marvel hero of them all. But on the screen…well, he’s a flaming CG skeleton in a biker jacket. It’s hard to pull off with a straight face, so Ghost Rider doesn’t even try.

This is a shame for a lot of reasons, chief among them the presence of Nicolas Cage, one of the few actors who really seems nuts enough to go Method as a messenger of Hell. Cage is trying here, and although his decision to make Johnny Blaze a quirky guy doesn’t always pay off, he’s far from the worst thing about the movie. Ghost Rider is the type of film where the devil shows up with thunder, lightning, and a skull on the handle of his cane, and where a renegade demon wanders into a biker bar (helpfully named “Saloon”) and is stopped by a biker named Killer who growls, “Angels only.” Without getting overly precious about a comic book character, this is a needlessly silly film that wavers between disrespectful and outright hostile to its protagonist’s mythology. The only way to enjoy it is with a heavy dose of irony — and that’s only if you don’t care about Ghost Rider at all.

Ryan: You know, Jeff, when I heard they’d cast Nic Cage in the role, I did wonder exactly what kind of movie it was going to be, because, like you mentioned, I had always remembered Ghost Rider to be a pretty no-nonsense kind of character. Casting Cage sort of automatically undermines that. And what was with the strange finger-pointing thing he did throughout the movie? Was that a reference to some signature pose of his in the comics that I’m not aware of? If so, it might have worked on the page, but on screen it came off looking rather goofy.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10243931[/rtimage]

Tim: You know, I’ve never been a big fan of the auteur theory — given the number of people involved in the making of a movie, it seems reductionist to say that any film is the product of an individual’s singular vision (apologies to Andrew Sarris for my simplistic description). However, watching Ghost Rider forced me to consider another possibility: what if an actor, by sheer force of personality, puts his stamp on a film so thoroughly that virtually every other element is consigned to the background? Ghost Rider may not be much of a comic book movie, but as an unintentional argument for Cage’s auteurism, it’s priceless.

Remember when Magic Johnson said, “There will never, ever be another Larry Bird?” There will never, ever be another Nicolas Cage. What other actor could possibly deliver the following lines of dialogue like he means it?

“Mack, you touch the Carpenters or that chimp video again and we got a scrap on our hands.”

“Thanks for the info. I feel much better knowing I’m the devil’s bounty hunter.”

“You’re both good cops. And you provide a very, very important civil service. In fact, when I finish my stunt career, I intend to apply my skills to being a motorcycle policeman.”

The answer, in short, is no one. In her outstanding essay, “The Heat-Seeking Panther,” Slate critic Dana Stevens wrote, “When Cage takes on these outsize B-movie roles, I don’t believe for a moment that he is just nodding wearily to his agent (and his accountant). I think he’s fulfilling a vision, albeit one that looks inscrutable from the outside, of choosing roles in the kind of movies he himself loves.” When Cage is howling maniacally while his skin burns, or drinking cup after cup of water and tossing each on the floor (in a church, no less), or writhing on the ground at his father’s gravesite, he displays such insane commitment to his performance that your first instinct is to chuckle, and your second is to shake your head in slack jawed appreciation.

I know we’re supposed to be talking about Ghost Rider, but I can’t muster enough enthusiasm for the movie to take our task seriously. If this was made in the 1970s by Roger Corman as a low-rent knockoff of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia or something, I would have liked it a lot better. It’s most interesting as a tale of a cocksure stuntman, the sweet gal who loves him, and a deal with the devil. It wouldn’t be the Ghost Rider of the comics, but it might be a better movie. Good for us that it is what it is, since we get to see Nicolas Cage do his thing. God love him.

Jeff: I agree with you, Tim — that’s kind of what I was getting at with the last sentence of my writeup. This is the only way to enjoy the movie: as glorious schlock, untethered from the source material. But if it doesn’t work as a Ghost Rider movie, then why involve the character at all? Why not just make a movie about Nicolas Cage as a guy who’s tormented by the devil and bursts into flame against his will?

One reason and one reason only: Because the Ghost Rider brand has built-in commercial value. Every franchise is built to make money, but I felt like Ghost Rider was more flippant about it than most. All of Cage’s insanity isn’t enough to keep the movie from ringing hollow.


More Marvel Movie Madness:

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