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Color Out of Space Movie Review

Fifty Shades of Cage

Regular BPBS readers will be aware that we now employ a special review scale for the work of Mr. Nicolas Cage, as follows:

1 Nick Cage: uncharacteristically dull

2 Nick Cages: shows some signs of life; pretty entertaining

3 Nick Cages: we're getting crazy now!

4 Nick Cages: bees-level insanity; safety gear advised

See below for regular Cage reviewer Neil Danner's "Nick Cage" rating for "Color Out of Space"

"Color Out of Space" is the latest attempt to devise a film from the short story of the same name by 19th century sci-fi horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. "Color" tells the tale of the Gardner family living on a farm in rural Massachusetts outside of the fictional town of Arkham. Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage, "Primal") is settling into his new life as a farmer after the family has moved from an unnamed large city. His wife Theresa (Joely Richardson, "The Patriot") is recovering from cancer treatment and trying to continue her fast-paced job via the internet and teleconferences. One night a meteorite lands in their front yard, and things begin to change.

An alien "color" contained within the meteorite is released during an inspection of the rock. As this intruder infects the area, each member of the family starts to act strangely and their yard is transformed into a lush wilderness riotous with colors more closely resembling the world of "Avatar" than anything you might hope to see in Massachusetts. The only people who seem to notice the change are property caretaker Ezra (Tommy Chong, "Zootopia") and Ward (Elliot Knight, American Gothic), a hydrologist conducting a survey of the area for a future dam. Ward tries to warn the family not to drink the water from the well as it has become contaminated. From here it becomes a race to see if the Gardner family can keep their wits long enough to escape the unseen contagion sweeping through their world.

Turning a short story into a feature length move very difficult: more plot will need to be added, characters must be given extra depth, and additional world building will be required, just to name a few of the challenges. H. P. Lovecraft's original story "The Colour Out of Space" provides an extra hurdle, describing the antagonist as "...almost impossible to describe; and it was only by analogy that they called it colour at all." The only letdown in this latest screen version is this impossible to describe color being represented by the very describable magenta. Everywhere else "Color" stays faithful enough to the original, while still being fun and crazy in its own right.

Writer Richard Stanley's ("Hardware") return to the director's chair is a success. Visually he manages to tap into the 70's and 80's horror appeal without making things too campy, and he keeps a fair bit of Lovecraft's original tone. "Color" has enough blood and carnage to satisfy B-movie aficionados while not going over the top, and the backdrop of the changing Gardner farm provides a beautiful and ominous setting. Even Stanley's own twist on the ending works, calling back to an earlier shot that felt out of place in the moment, but chillingly makes sense by the film's conclusion.

The true star of the film, though, is Cage. He takes the character of Nathan far beyond the written page. At his most sane point he is pontificating about the wonders of alpacas, and from there his character builds in bizarreness and insanity until it all crashes out onto the screen in two magical scenes that only Nicolas Cage could provide. His performance alone is worth the price of admission, but all the pieces woven together make for a fun watch, with Cage's work providing the cherry on top. "Color Out of Space" has all of the darkness of the original short story, but is a more fun and accessible version that's well worth exploring.

Neil Danner gives "Color Out of Space" a 3.5 on the Nick Cage Mayhem Scale: just a step below fully unhinged.

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About Udara Madusanka

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