Movie Review: Nic Cage Gets Lost in ‘Between Worlds’

Movie Review: Nic Cage Gets Lost in ‘Between Worlds’

If you only see one Nicolas Cage movie this year, make sure it’s Mandy, a true acid-trip masterpiece from director Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow) and legitimately one of the best films of 2018.

And if you only see two Nic Cage movies this year, you could do worse than checking out Looking Glass, a nifty little low-budget mystery from the director of River’s Edge.

But if you dip deeper into the wealth of Cage’s recent output, you may come across writer-producer-director Maria Pulera’s Between Worlds. And you might wish you hadn’t.

Cage, however, is a lot of fun in Between Worlds as a pot-bellied trucker named Joe, who comes complete with mesh baseball cap desperately trying to contain strands of greasy shoulder-length hair.

He’s a sleazy Cameron Poe twenty years down the road, taking swigs out of a flask - or directly from a bottle of Jack Daniels - in almost every other shot. In Between Worlds’ opening scene, Joe chomps down a gas station hot dog while browsing hunting magazines.

But what’s that Joe hears emanating from the gas station bathroom? Sounds of a struggle? He bursts into a bathroom stall to find another trucker-type strangling Julie (Franka Potente) against a wall, but quickly drops him with a right hook and a couple kicks to the ribs courtesy of his snakeskin boots.

“That’s not how we treat women.” You tell ‘em, Joe.

But waitaminute! It turns out that the kindly trucker was merely strangling Potente’s Julie so she could pass out, travel to the spirit dimension, and rescue her comatose daughter, who was involved in a motorcycle accident earlier that day.

Oh no, Joe, what have you done? Well, the least you could do is give Julie a lift to the hospital and an on-site chokeout so she can save poor Billie (Penelope Mitchell).

Only problem: instead of bringing back Billie from the near-dead, Julie accidentally invokes the spirit of Joe’s dead wife. This potentially evil spirit overtakes Billie’s now-conscious body, and whaddya know, asks Joe to stick around for awhile.

Between Worlds sounds like it might - nay, should - be goofy fun, with Cage’s dirtbag Joe caught in a love triangle between his new girlfriend and her daughter, who in turn is actually the spirit of his deceased wife.

But after Between Worlds’ half-hour setup where everything is clearly established for the audience, the film grind to a halt as its characters spend the next hour trying to figure out what, exactly, is going on. Overwrought but undercooked, the thin screenplay never reaches its full potential and struggles to compete with Cage’s eye-grabbing central presence.

Pieces of the soundtrack credited to Angelo Badalamenti feel like they were lifted directly from Twin Peaks, but fail to add create much offbeat atmosphere. Cage’s wide-eyed performance, which culminate with his wigged-out character crawling around the floor and playing with a jack-in-the-box, end up swallowing anything else of interest in the movie.

While Between Worlds might be worth catching for the Cage aficionado - this is the actor at his loony best - everyone else can safely avoid.

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