Eric D. Snider

Ghost Rider

Movie Review

Ghost Rider

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: C-

Released: February 16, 2007

 

Directed by:

Cast:

You know, I've often remarked to myself that Nicolas Cage's over-the-top acting style is like that of a man whose head is on fire. And now here he is in "Ghost Rider," playing a man whose head is actually on fire. What's next? Keanu Reeves actually playing a block of wood?

Cage plays Johnny Blaze, which is the sort of name that can only be a comic book character or a porn actor, and Johnny is the former. He's a daredevil motorcyclist who, in the movie version of the story, sells his soul to the devil in order to save his father's life. He kind of signs the contract accidentally, though, and then his dad dies anyway, so it's really a bummer of a deal. The devil is played by Peter Fonda, but it's a cheesy enough role that Christopher Walken probably should have done it.

Anyway, ol' Mephistopheles keeps Johnny alive for many years (despite Johnny's frequent bike wrecks) and then comes a-callin' one day with a task. Seems the devil's son, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), and his three demonic cronies are looking for a particular contract for a particular batch of souls, and Dad doesn't want them to find it. So Johnny is transformed into Ghost Rider and sent to stop them.

When Johnny is Ghost Rider, his head becomes a burning skull, his torso becomes far more muscular than Nicolas Cage's torso has ever been, and his motorcycle is made of flames. He can crack burning chains like whips, and he can look into a bad guy's eyes and deliver such delightful pronouncements as "Your soul is stained by the blood of the innocent." You show me a man who can say that with a straight face, and I'll show you a man who has burning skull instead of a face.

Johnny doesn't really like having to do the devil's bidding, but his real enemy now is Blackheart, who wears a fitted black trenchcoat and smiles in a sinister fashion and generally behaves like the Goth kids you knew in high school, only gayer.

To complicate matters even further, Johnny is unexpectedly reunited with Roxanne (Eva Mendes), his girlfriend from long ago. She is now a TV news reporter for, I assume, The Cleavage Channel, and she still pines a little for the Johnny Blaze she knew all those years ago, the one whose head didn't catch on fire every night.

The film was written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who did a similarly lame job with "Daredevil" a few years ago. That debacle had some amusing supporting characters, though; "Ghost Rider" is superficial and ridiculous in every way, with only Sam Elliott as a grizzled old cemetery caretaker doing anything memorable.

Cage seems to be enjoying himself, I'll say that much for him. The first time Johnny transforms into Ghost Rider, a process that involves being consumed with fire, Johnny is for some reason cackling like a maniac. Soon I was laughing, too, because who laughs when their head catches on fire? What actor would even think that having his character laugh in that situation would be a good idea? Nicolas Cage, ladies and gentlemen. Gotta love him.

But then the dialogue is full of garbage like this, spoken when Johnny encounters a demon made of wind: "Time to clear the air." Factor in Eva Mendes' hilariously unconvincing performance as the TV reporter, the convoluted and muddy storyline, and the general lack of thrills or excitement, and you've got yourself a big, silly comic book movie. Whoever the inept Mark Steven Johnson had to sell his soul to in order to get put in charge of two big comic book adaptations, I hope it was worth it.

Grade: C-

Rated PG-13, a lot of moderate, action-oriented violence

1 hr., 50 min.

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This item has 33 comments

  1. AdamOndi says:

    "...like the Goth kids you knew in high school, only gayer."

  2. AdamOndi says:

    For some reason, the rest of my original comment got cut off. Here it is in its entirety.

    "...like the Goth kids you knew in high school, only gayer." Awesome.

    Anyway, have you ever checked out the Director's Cut edition of Daredevil? It is far better than the theatrical cut. The director gets to explain a little bit of why the theatrical version was essentially neutered. He says that the studio forced him to make the story about Daredevil and Elektra, rather than the original plot line that had their love story as a subplot.

    This is in no way an endorsement of Ghost Rider, though. From everything I have seen or heard, that movie does indeed look like it sucks.

  3. LittleWoodenBoy says:

    Of course it looks like it sucks. How could it not suck? How could anyone have made this movie thinking there was any chance it wouldn't suck? Given the source material, it was destined to suck from the moment of its conception.

    Who else is excited for the Transformers movie?

  4. Jacob says:

    Tranformers? I am.

  5. Jacob says:

    AND I can't spell.

  6. Prehumous says:

    There's going to be a Transformers's movie?

    Well, I suppose it's a marginally better idea than the Garfield movie, but I mean, come on! The Transformers's haven't been big since the eighties; the only people who'll be seeing this will be doing so for the nostalgia value.

  7. Lowdogg says:

    Sam Elliot IS the man.

  8. Yulnaggoth says:

    I've never even heard of ghostrider.

  9. Andrew D says:

    Yup, this movie looked genuinely awful from the previews. Transformers looks like it could go either way, though. I hope it's good.

  10. apmusicman says:

    "She is now a TV news reporter for, I assume, The Cleavage Channel"

    Hiliarious! I went to dinner with some friends afterward we saw this tripe and all we talked about were Eva Mendes' shirts. Well, that and the song entitled "Satan's p****" (which is to say, his um, member) which, for us, was the funniest thing in the whole movie. Ah, juvenile humor.

  11. The Sympathetic Devil says:

    Was it just me or did Peter Fonda play satan by doing his best Henry Fonda impression? Guy has issues.

  12. bubba says:

    "The Cleavage Channel" -- wasted twenty bucks seeing this. Told friends afterward that Eve Mendes was in it, but I couldn't remember a word she said, or what color her hair was... Donal Logue was decent as the sidekick. Anyone have a clue why Sam Elliot would have ridden all the way across the desert with Cage only to bag out when the real action was getting started?

  13. Wells M says:

    He rode across the desert in order to finally kill that lizard. That sinful, sinful lizard.

  14. The Sympathetic Devil says:

    I was thinking it was because Bonehead had to get to San Venganza before dawn, the flaming bike doesn't come with GPS, and Sam knew damn well Bonehead would never stop and ask for directions. But I guess the lizard explaination makes more sense. Damn lizards.

  15. Beth says:

    That movie was AWSOME!Especially when he looked into there eys and said ''Your soul is stained by the blood of the innocent'' Now you must feel there pain!He wass soooo awsome in that movie.Im deff buying it when it comes out.I want to be a GOOD Ghost Rider.LOL!

  16. Brandon says:

    "and generally behaves like the Goth kids you knew in high school, only gayer."

    That is very very gay.

  17. John Doe says:

    I wanted Ghost Rider to be good. I really did. I'm a big fan of the comics. And I laughed so much during the movie. I loved how Sam Eliot "outran the devil". Yeah, since they devil was just STANDING there and didn't bother to move. Reminded me of something out of the Simpsons with Grandpa Simpson standing there saying "He'll be back...any minute now."

  18. ClobberGirl says:

    Went and saw this with my husband last week. He's a huge comic book fan (I'm more of a DC Animated Universe fan; all comics have that continuity hell problem) and desperately wanted to enjoy this movie.

    But alas, it was bad. I can't remember the last time I saw such awful fight sequences in a comic book movie--did the thought ever occur to the villains that if they all attacked Ghost Rider at the same time, they might do a bit better than letting him pick them off one by one? Whoops, guess that'd be too much choreography and special effects to pay for.

    A little bit of the dialogue was enjoyable and did get some giggles from us. But overall, the movie was silly, predictable and dull.

    I'm setting my hopes on the Spiderman and Batman sequels, and also hoping Joss Whedon can redeem the Bondage Queen and finally give us a good chick superhero movie.

  19. Kilroy says:

    I loved the movie. It was what it was, a fun light comic book movie.

  20. chris noel ruiz says:

    The movie was about a guy with a flaming skull for a head? IThought it was about Eva Mendes' angry cleavage seeking vengeance against the audience...

  21. Genevieve says:

    Well I have to see th movie now. Sounds Cheezetastic!

  22. Da Rogue says:

    Ghost Rider was awesome! He cackles 'cause the demon, (can't remember his name right now) inside him is a fricking maniac. Oh how it must feel to have the power of hellfire burning in your soul...

  23. Andrew says:

    I grew up reading Ghost Rider comic books (yes I dated myself). I was so disappointed that N. Cage was given the role. Sometimes these celebrities need to get back to reality about how much they can push their egos where it becomes completley ridiculous. Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze actually made me feel like Marvel sold out. The word 'disappointed' doesn't even come close...

  24. Mary says:

    I read several Marvel titles a month, and I like Nick Cage, and I have to say that this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Ranks up there with Mortal Kombat and the like. I was very disappointed.

  25. Max says:

    I quite enjoyed this movie. I feel it may have been a little confined, but considering they are trying to distill decades of stories into a good origin movie (which is what most first superhero movies are) you kind of are always likely to upset some fans and perhaps mystify some people who dont know the story behind it.

    Once again, however, the critics are using their barometers to measure height. You need to get over it. Ok, we get it. Critics dont like Superhero movies. Either that or they figure there wont be THAT many really popular movies, so better to run them all down and they will be right more often than not. That way they only seem out of touch and irrelevant infrequently.

    As for depth, a several hundred year old rider, who has guarded a dangerous artefact for years and years, who, with the last transformation available to him faces the desert and leads the new rider to the place where he can fight for the captured souls and his mortal hosts love... yeah there is no depth to this movie, the guys talking about Eva's clevage and fried lizards...they are the genius's.

    Any way , I have enjoyed this break from reality with you people on this sight, guess it is time to get back to the real world...(and by the way, to the brilliant genius who says that no one will watch transformers for any reason but notalgia... The film has registered the highest first-week box office returns for a non-sequel in US cinema history, beating 2002's Spider-Man. - Prehumous should stick to abstract criticisms, like the rest of the people above, rather than things like this where it can be clearly seen he is so very very wrong!)

  26. Mollycoddle says:

    "Prehumous should stick to abstract criticisms, like the rest of the people above, rather than things like this where it can be clearly seen he is so very very wrong!"

    I was going to leave you alone until you said this. Now I have to turn it against you.

    Previously, you said: "Ok, we get it. Critics dont like Superhero movies." But maybe you should take your own advice and stick to abstract criticisms, rather than things like this where it can be easily shown that you are very, very wrong.

    Links go to Rotten Tomatoes, where you can see that the great majority of critics do like these superhero movies: "Spider-Man," "Spider-Man 2," "X-Men," "X2: X-Men United," "Superman Returns," "Batman Begins"

  27. Max says:

    Well, I suppose I should leave the unfair blanket generalisations to the professionals, so ok, sorry for that. About him being wrong though? well if the Transformers has had the biggest ever opening week of a non sequel movie (I believe was the provisio) then his statement to the effect that people would only be seeing transformers for the Nostalgia value would seem to be quite incorrect.

    As for me actually being wrong, I wonder where I actually was wrong? I appreciate you leaving me alone, but you also unfortunately ommited to note my mistake. I read the other comments and they (the ones that found fault with the movie) seem to either dislike the actor, the basic premise of Ghost Rider, are obsessed with the reporters clevage, or are confused as to the purpose of the old ghost riders last ride. Clobbergirl does make a good point about the fight scenes, but it could be said that the movie makers were trying to highlight the uniqueness of the individual bad guys or it could be comic book mentality where this sort of thing happened all the time (I guess if you go deeper, just because you are an evil spirit from hell, you are not neccesarily a team player!)

    Anyhow Molly, posthumous was wrong about his prediction about the transformers movie, but if I am missing something (mainly as you werent too clear in your post) please tell me, I am more than willing to apoligise for any mistakes I have made. (which is why i will never be a movie critic)

  28. Eric D. Snider says:

    Let me help you out here, Max. I believe Mollycoddle's point was that you'd said movie critics don't like superhero movies, when in fact the statistics show otherwise. She linked to six specific superhero movies that most critics did, in fact, like.

    Critics DON'T "run them all down." Most superhero movies actually do pretty well with critics.

    I'll take it a step further, too. The superhero movies that the critics have generally not liked -- the "Fantastic Four" movies, "Ghost Rider," "Punisher," "Daredevil," "Catwoman," "Elektra" -- have all been the least successful at the box office, too. Which suggests that perhaps critics have approximately the same tastes as audiences when it comes to comic book movies.

    As for admitting their mistakes, movie critics, like all journalists, are keen on being factual. We don't mind admitting our mistakes when we make them. But I think what you're talking about are mostly matters of opinion. I'm never going to say I made a "mistake" about "Ghost Rider," because it's impossible for one's opinion to be a "mistake." My opinion of the movie can be different from yours, and neither of us is right or wrong. They're opinions, not facts.

  29. Shirley says:

    Max, I can't help but notice that you closed your first comment with a paragraph along the lines of, "Well, it was fun to wade in your little puddle of stupidity(I mean fantasy) for a time, but I have important real-life matters to attend to. Insert sarcastic crack about a 'brilliant genius'(which is redundant) here."

    Two days later, you apparently said to yourself, "Well, time to read the 'Daredevil' review comments!," reclined in your chair with a bag of Doritos(nacho cheese flavor) in hand, and headed back here. Way to seem nonchalant. Did it really stay on your mind? "Oh man, I can' t help but wonder if anyone has replied to my scathing comment!" I might add that the amount of money Transformers made doesn't prove or disprove that the people who went to see it did so out of pure nostalgia, so your evidence doesn't hold up when it comes down to the point you were trying to make.

    Oh, and I love your use of excessively flowery language, even in spots where it's completely unnecessary and shows everyone that you don't actually know how to use the word. Good job!

  30. John Doe says:

    Wow, this movie is still getting responses? I thought everyone knew it sucked (or at least that it wasn't that good). Gotta love Max and his ilk though. I loved X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, and Batman Begins. I love the hero Ghost Rider more than them all. Yet even I admit that the movie sucked. If origin movies are hard to do, why did these other movies I mentioned rock so much and Ghost Rider suck? If someone else can do it, and do it well, then there is no excuse.

    On the other hand, I have no problem with people admitting that they enjoyed a sucky movie. I enjoy Bloodsport and Mortal Kombat. I never defend them as great cinema though.

  31. Max says:

    Apologies to Molly, indeed I did miss the links you were offering to superhero movies that critics liked. So as I said I would like to apologise. If I offended anyone with my flowery language , my posting two comments or my reclining chair, then I would also like to apologise. I guess I just enjoyed the movie, finding it exciting to see Ghost Rider portrayed on the big screen that I found it hard to take the criticisms offered (particularly the ones I felt were a bit silly).
    I would also like to thank Mr Snider for his well balanced reply. I guess that a lot of it is about people opinions, and I shouldnt be so worried about people not sharing mine.

    So from me, and my ilk, I should perhaps have just mentioned that I enjoyed this movie, and that any plot, acting or other problems were dwarfed by my excitement of watching Ghost Rider in a serious movie.

  32. willy says:

    the movie ghost rider was a very good movie.

    i hope they come out with another movie.

    i like how they did the flaming skull and flaming hands.

  33. Amandanator says:

    "He rode across the desert in order to finally kill that lizard. That sinful, sinful lizard."

    Wells M, when I read that comment back in August, I fell off of my chair from laughing. Checking it again in January, I still get a chuckle. Kudos!

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