Review: Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

Rating



Director

Mark Steven Johnson

Screenplay

Mark Steven Johnson (Based on the Comic Book series)

Length

114 min.

Starring

Matt Long, Raquel Alessi, Brett Cullen, Peter Fonda, Nicolas Cage, Donal Logue, Wes Bentley, Eva Mendes

MPAA Rating

PG-13 (For horror violence and disturbing images)

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

Does anyone remember the anti-superhero flick Spawn? Only those who actually saw it. The supreme box office disappointment that accompanied the D.B. Sweeney film has thankfully purged the film from the collective consciousness. However, the style and horror of that film have been resurrected in the form of the mostly-unwatchable Ghost Rider.

The film opens explaining in a rather homogenized set of scenes the history of young Johnny Blaze (Matt Long) and how he made a deal with the devil, or Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) if you prefer, to cure his father’s cancer only to lose him again in a horrible accident. His pact was that when Mephistopheles needed him, he would be summoned. Until then, he would be gifted with a power so strong it made his career: immortality.

When we’re brought forward to the present, Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is all grown up and has a very successful career as a stunt biker. His inability to die have made him more and more willing to take giant risks much to the chagrin of his manager Mack (Donal Logue). That all changes around the time the love of his life (whom he abandoned shortly after his father’s death) comes back into town.

Roxanne Simpson (Raquel Alessi as the younger and Eva Mendes as the elder) is now a reporter sent to cover the record-setting jump Johnny’s about to undertake. Their romance is quickly rekindled, despite his rejection of her so long ago. It’s only then that, faced with a rogue agent, Mephistopheles has come to collect his debt.

Blaze is turned into a night-riding, flaming skull-headed Ghost Rider. He’s instructed to stop Blackheart (Wes Bentley) and his elemental toadies from continuing to take and destroy life on earth.

The film plays more like soap opera at times than theatrical release. Cage is well beyond awful in the titular role. It’s as if all of the talent he showed in Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation. was a fluke. Perhaps it’s the director? After all, Mark Steven Johnson was responsible for the abysmal Daredevil, but even then the leads (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner) had good chemistry. Here Cage’s perf is so supremely awful, it almost makes the horrendous work of Bentley look spectacular. Mendes and Logue aren’t too awful, but they certainly aren’t approaching perfection.

If the comic is anything like the film, you might as well just bundle it up for kindling for that’s as much as it’s good for. Most often though, as in the case of the popular Spawn, Daredevil and Elektra comic books, the source material is better. Here, there’s only one tiny plot and it’s stretched unbearably to nearly two hours. It’s a wonder this film was a success at the box office. However, we know from past experience that as long as there’s violence, sexuality and good visual effects, anyone will throw down money to see it.

Compared to Elektra and Daredevil, it’s even more surprising that Ghost Rider was so well received by audiences. Those two films did quite poorly at the box office, yet Ghost Rider was a $100 million success.

The stunts, one-liners and effects form the only plausible reason the film was popular. It certainly wasn’t the acting and definitely not the plotting as there really wasn’t any of that herein. Ghost Rider was only slightly better than Spawn, but that film also suffered most from its use of the same visual effect colored differently at four separate times in the film. Still, it’s not a surpassed milestone of which to be proud.

Review Written

June 24, 2007

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