Review: Another Month, Another Mediocre Nicolas Cage Film in Arcadian

Another month has gone by, so it must be time for a new Nicolas Cage movie. This time around, he can be found in the Quiet Place ripoff Arcadian, which takes place in the near future where life on the planet is all but gone thanks to some sort of creatures that only come out at night. Cage’s Paul lives in a remote farmhouse with his two teen sons, Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins, Joe Bell, Reacher) and Joseph (Jaeden Martell, It, Knives Out).

And in their endless cycle that can barely be called living, they spend the daylight hours preparing to defend themselves from nightly attacks by these deadly monsters. And while Joseph is the analytical of the brothers, who is always coming up with new ways to fight off the mysterious evil, Thomas is more a man of action who actually dares to seek out a life outside the farm, spending time with a nearby young woman named Charlotte (Sadie Soverall, Saltburn) and her family. They spend so much time together that it occasionally makes him late getting home, and Paul is none too happy about that.

One night, when Thomas is racing home, he falls into a hidden pit from which he can’t escape, and his father must come save him, leading to a series of events that leave Paul gravely injured. The rest of the film is basically the family trying to reunite, take Paul somewhere for medical attention (via a convenient ATV that no one else seems to have), and then make it back home to then defend themselves from yet another monster attack. As directed by veteran music video director and effects supervisor Benjamin Brewer, working from a screenplay by Mike Nilon, Arcadian doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises or intrigue; honestly, it doesn’t even offer much in the way of Nicolas Cage, who spends a significant chunk of the movie sidelined and out cold. 

Some of the ways the boys fortify and defend their home is inventive, and I’ve always been impressed by Martell as a thoughtful actor, but he’s given so little to do here, there’s little room to flex his acting muscles even a little bit. At its core, the film is made up of a series of bad decisions that lead to people getting hurt or worse, and the kids are left to pick up the pieces that, for the most part, got blown to bits because they screwed up in the first place. Not even the timeless wonder of Nicolas Cage can save this second-tier sci-fi actioner.

The film is now playing in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.