Worth A Look: 15.15%
Pretty Bad: 22.22%
Total Crap: 37.37%
9 reviews, 45 user ratings
“Ghost Rider” is a lot like a stretched Harley with a dragging tailpipe. There are plenty of sparks and noise, but it really doesn’t get you to your destination any faster. Despite all of the flames and devastation that fill just about every frame, “Ghost Rider” is free of any sense of excitement.It’s easy to blame writer-director Mark Steven Johnson. After all, he’s the guy who gave us the limp, scattershot adaptation of “Daredevil,” which is one of the more intriguing tales in the Marvel Comics universe.
"Answers the question ‘How can a movie with flaming motorcycles not be fun?’"
But to be fair to Johnson, “Ghost Rider” doesn’t have the devoted following of “Spider-Man” or even “Blade,” and it’s easy to see why. The character, at least as he’s portrayed here isn’t that interesting.
When he’s not defying death and dismemberment with his motorcycle jumps, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) goes through a startling transformation. He turns into a skeletal creature who rides a flaming motorcycle and can burn with the flames of hell.
Because he’s only bones and flames, the Ghost Rider isn’t terribly expressive or distinctive. It’s hard not to giggle when he tells evildoers to look into his eyes because there are none in his sockets.
Johnny came upon his condition because he sold his soul to Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda, in a nod to his biker hero past). Johnny’s stunt biker dad was dying of cancer, which the devil cured, but the fellow still died.
Now the Devil wants Johnny to defeat his demon son Blackheard (Wes Bently, who on a good day might intimidate a two-year old). Johnny also has to contend with the fact that his adolescent crush Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes) is now a reporter who is still bitter at the way he left her.
Even for a movie that involves the supernatural, “Ghost Rider” pushes suspension of disbelief past the breaking point. It’s really interesting that both Johnny and Roxanne are the same age as teenagers (played by age appropriate thespians), but he grows up to be 42, and she grows up to be 31. And if the Devil can cure cancer, why would he need to outside help to destroy Blackheart?
At times Johnson seems to be cluttering up the screen with lots of over-the-top CGI effects as if to make up for the fact that the tale he’s devised is stale and uninspired. As with “Daredevil,” Johnson jettisons interesting character traits in favor of lame excuses to show off his CGI toybox. There’s a pointless scene where the Ghost Rider takes on a helicopter for no discernable reason.
There’s nothing in the film that’s nearly as interesting as watching a real stunt cyclist flirt with injury. Because the backgrounds and lighting betray how obvious the studio shot effects are, there’s never any “did that really happen?” moments.
Occasionally, the filmmakers come up with CGI fixes that are goofier than the reality there are disguising. At one point, a shirtless Cage stares at himself in the mirror as his well-toned muscles move out of sync with the rest of his body. This build owes more to pixels than to protein shakes.
Cage’s fascination with superheroes (In real life, he named his son after Superman and took his stage name from Marvel hero Luke Cage) and his brooding, haunted presence would seem a good fit for the role. But his bizarre facial ticks are distracting. It’s as if he were competing with the special effects crew.
The supporting cast doesn’t have much room to work, either. Mendes’ contract appears to stipulate that she wear tight, form-fitting dresses even when her reporter character is covering massive disaster scenes. Sam Elliott gets to do his grizzled wise man routine, but frankly that’s more fun than looking at special effects that would still look lame on a video podcast.“Ghost Rider” has an estimated budget of $120 million. While the studio might have been willing to spend all that money on this dull flop, it’s reassuring that the rest of us don’t have to spend a penny on it.
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originally posted: 02/18/07 05:19:20
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