Movie Review: Ghost Rider (2007)

Seen: On our big screen/projector set-up, streamed from my boyfriend’s hard drive.

Well, we’re psyched for the sequel and Miles had never seen the first one, so a viewing of Ghost Rider has been looming on the horizon for some time now. Based on the Marvel comic series that I’ve been meaning to read forever, the film inexplicably stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a profession daredevil who made a deal with the devil (Peter Fonda) in his youth and finally pays for it later on. The devil’s son Blackheart (Wes Bentley) is waging a war with his father, attempting to secure a mythical soul contract hidden on earth that would give him the power to bring Hell to earth. Johnny is forced to become the titular superbeing, using his fire powers and “Penance Stare” to take out Blackheart and his gang of fallen angels. Also he has to convince his newly found long-lost love Roxanne (Eva Mendes) that he’s not a crazy person.

Incorporating piss-poor special effects, a clumsy screenplay, and hammy acting, Ghost Rider was doomed to fail from the beginning. It’s too bad, really, since I think the premise is actually really interesting, and some of the flaming motorcycle scenes are pretty cool. Plus it’s got Sam Elliott (Sam Elliott!) and he is perfectly cast as a mysterious “Caretaker” who spouts age-old wisdom and wears a cowboy hat. But Cage is a weird choice for the lead and his hairpiece is distracting, and Eva Mendes is boring, and Peter Fonda seems confused, and Donal Logue does his best as the wisecracking best friend.

The good ideas are there, just poorly executed by writer/director Mark Steven Johnson, and of course the shoddy CGI isn’t helping anything. But I know there is material here for a genuinely cool movie, and I’m actually pretty confident that those wackos Neveldine and Taylor will figure out how to make Ghost Rider 2 oddly, insanely awesome.

2/5

Pair This Movie With: There are a lot of movies in this ilk that I dig, actually, so you have a few choices. Constantine and Hellboy have more heaven/hell comic book fun times, Blade sports some similar anti-hero themes, and Drive Angry also has Nicolas Cage fighting against a hell-on-earth situation (and is a seriously fun movie).

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