Ghost Rider (2007) mini review

based on a comic book

Well, having seen Ghost Rider a week late, and not being able to sit down and complete this for another week, this review isn't as timely as I'd like it to be (sorry, obscure joke). I guess that's okay, though, given that Ghost Rider wasn't as good as I'd like it to be.

In Ghost Rider, Nic Cage plays Johnny Blaze, who makes a deal with the devil. Even though the deal goes south, Mephistopheles (the devil played by Peter Fonda) comes to collect years later by turning Blaze into the Ghost Rider, his personal bounty hunter, and sending him after some rogue demonspawn. (Incidentally, the movie retains some of these relationships from the comics - the Mephistopheles/Blackheart war isn't new, neither are Ghost Rider's run-ins with the pair. I'm specifically recalling one of my favorites - a team up with Wolverine and Punisher titled Hearts of Darkness.) The cast also includes Eva Mendes (the love interest) and Donal Logue (American Splendor, Comic Book Villains, Blade).

It was off to a great start, being led in by the Fantastic Four 2 and Spiderman 3 trailers. The FF sequel could surpass the first one. And I was pretty impressed by the credits - my hope was rising by the second. Excellent choices for the soundtrack - good score and decent songs, including "classics" like Ozzy's Crazy Train.

But then, it's a comic book movie, and my hope quickly turned to disappointment. I didn't hate this film as much as a lot of reviewers seemed to - it had enough good in it to keep me going. But that just means the film had so much potential. Then they had to make it hokey (or cheesy, or corny, or whatever word the kids are using these days). Of course, Cage's over-acting didn't help.

It's like they came to the table with a decent plot and some scene ideas (in the context of the movie some of the stuff from the trailer - the driving up the side of the building, the flying off the building roof - are inspired), but the writers couldn't fill in all the blanks properly, so they threw in a lot of clichéd goofiness.

Maybe I'll get my hands on a script, and I'll do a complete Ghost Rider annotated cliché list.

Maybe not; but I'll share a couple here.

Anti-heroes shouldn't wag their fingers at the villain.

They shouldn't say things like, "You're goin' down!" That's creative.

And the classic:

Where are you going now?
Wherever the road takes me.

I know there are a lot more - I should have been writing them while I watched. It's like they gave all the writers the day off and sat down and Google'd "movie clichés". (OK, that's the last time I use cliché in this review.)

But then, it is a comic book movie. Shouldn't we expect it to be filled with such goofiness?

Sometimes movies take themselves way too seriously. In Ghost Rider's case, it doesn't take itself seriously enough. It had so much potential. Great soundtrack, great score, decent effects. And the writing wasn't all bad. Just enough to push it over the line.

Addendum (3.16.07): It seems I forgot to mention that Mark Steven Johnson - writer and director of Ghost Rider - also wrote and directed Daredevil. I believe he's also rumored to helm the HBO Preacher project. I also neglected to add that Sam Elliot played Caretaker - he's also had parts in Hulk and Mask. I think that's it.

See it if you're a Ghost Rider fan, and go into it knowing it's not going to be what you wanted.

Don't see it if you've never really been into Ghost Rider and want to wait for the good Marvel movies to come out later this year.


Bones said...

This is exactly what I was afraid of. I still haven't seen it, but it already had two strikes against it for me:

1. Mark Steven Johnson (the man responsible for the craptacular DD film)

2. Nicholas Cage (one of the worst actors wasting screen time imo)

Now on to good comic movies, the wife and kid are out of town so I get to go see 300 this weekend!!!

Jim said...

D'oh!! I had forgotten to mention Johnson's connection to Daredevil! Thanks, Bones.