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Overall Rating
2.3

Awesome: 6.06%
Worth A Look: 15.15%
Average: 19.19%
Pretty Bad: 22.22%
Total Crap37.37%

9 reviews, 45 user ratings


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Ghost Rider
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by Todd LaPlace

"An unholy abomination."
2 stars

There’s nothing cooler than Spider-Man. Okay, so maybe he’s only the coolest to a select group of people who survived the debacle that was the Clone Saga, but when it comes to comic book movies, theirs are probably the opinions that matter most. It’s easy to sell an iconic character like Spider-Man or the X-Men, but it gets a little trickier when the comic publishers reach a little deeper into their archives for new movie franchise potential. The latest grab, dark anti-hero Ghost Rider, isn’t exactly what you’d call a marquee character anymore (he peaked in the ‘90s and subsequently got lost when the comic bubble burst), so in order for the studios to have another hit, they’ve got to appeal to their target audience (if you understood that whole Clone Saga bit, you’re it). But studios, please take note: “Ghost Rider” may be the best example of how to royally screw yourself out of a success.

Hey, Wes Bentley! Remember that time you were in that good movie where your character get off on filming plastic bags floating in the wind? And do you remember how it won the Best Picture Oscar that year? That must have been crazy, right? I mean, before that, all you’d really done in mainstream Hollywood was play a rapist in “Beloved.” Then there you were, Hollywood’s newest “It” boy. People must have been lining up around the block to hand you their scripts. Remind me again, though, what were your next few movies? Let’s see, you did that snowy Western movie that no one saw. Then you did that horror movie with Eliza Dushku that no one saw. Then you did that epic war movie that no one saw. Then you did that soccer movie that no one saw (which happened to costar the obnoxious eldest “Home Improvement” kid). Is that it? Did I leave anything out? Remind me, why do I still remember your name?

Perhaps I remember because after years of scraping the bottom with crap like “The Claim,” “Soul Survivors” and “The Four Feathers,” you finally managed to crawl back into a major motion picture destined to be No. 1 at the box office. I just wish you would have picked a better movie than “Ghost Rider,” the film version of a B-grade Marvel comic character, that’s assuredly going to make quite a few worst of the year lists in 10 months. And yes, Wes, I think this is one movie that you’re going to wish that no one saw.

Bentley’s saving grace, however, is that his character, the villainous Blackheart, is little more than an afterthought. The movie is more concerned with trying to make its title character look as badass as possible. He is a flaming skeleton that rides a flaming motorcycle, after all. But while much credit is owed to the special effects team for making him look cool, the effect is completely ruined by the hollow acting of Nicolas Cage. When not set of fire, Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stunt man with a pension for death defying stunts that often result in him surviving horrific accidents that should leave him splattered across his landing ramps. Johnny is comforted, perhaps, by the knowledge that he simply can’t die — the devil owns his soul. As a teenager, Johnny makes a deal with Mephistopheles (played by a slumming Peter Fonda) that will cost Johnny his soul in exchange for his dad to be cured of cancer.

When Blackheart reemerges from hell to collect a contract worth a fortune in tainted souls, Mephistopheles returns to cash in on his deal with Johnny: at night, in the presence of evil, Johnny will become the Ghost Rider, a creature tasked with collecting souls for the devil. One assumes that this is the moment that signifies the end of the beginning and sets the stage for an action-packed second act, but you’d only be half right. It’s clearly the start of the middle section, but it can hardly be described as thrilling. The action sequences largely consist of either Blackheart easily dispatching motorcycle thugs in a dive bar or Ghost Rider battling Blackheart’s useless three minions in single smackdowns that are embarrassingly trotted out simply to give Ghost Rider something to do in between his origin and his climatic showdown with Blackheart.

Maybe it’s simply a consequence of having no soul, but I’m pretty sure that Johnny Blaze is the least compelling super hero ever committed to screen, and it doesn’t help that Cage seems to be taking a nap through approximately 90 percent of his role. The only time that Cage gives Johnny any resemblance of humanity is when he’s watching monkey videos and listening to the Carpenters (“You’re stepping on Karen,” he tells an employee played by far-too-talented-for-this-schlock Donal Logue in the film’s most clever line). While it’s arguable that a soulless demon shouldn’t have humanity anyway, we’re clearly meant to sympathize with Johnny when he’s attempting to rekindle his feelings for childhood love Roxie (Eva Mendes), who is included here simply to fulfill this comic book movie’s requisite amount of damsel in distress and sassy female reporter. These two have about as much on-screen chemistry as you’d expect from a 1983 Honda Civic and a spayed chinchilla. Faring better, though, is Sam Elliott as a mysterious man known the Caretaker, although that may be because he’s little more than a glorified narrator. He’s the guy that seems to know far too much for just a casual observer, but Elliott’s definitely got the voice to at least make the Ghost Rider origin seem more compelling than the watered down version writer/director Mark Steven Johnson has tried to get away with.

I think Johnson, who’s already done the Marvel comics thing with 2003’s disappointing “Daredevil,” is just in over his head with this picture, often getting buried in the beloved mythology that’s sustained a character like Ghost Rider for so many years. Having been a fan of Marvel for years, I can at least sympathize with Johnson for getting what was destined to be a doomed task. Unlike other filmed characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider has never had an iconic villain or even much of a love interest. He’s attempting to create a believable narrative from a character that’s mostly just a gothic badass, and, well, these movies just don’t tend to work like that. Still, being a fan, I think I at least deserve the right to nitpick the stupid, unnecessary changes that are simply going to antagonize the existing fanbase. Why, for instance, did Johnson change the name of classic comic villain Mephisto? Sorry Mark, I think that sympathy is gone. While “Ghost Rider” isn’t quite an abomination to God, it might be one to Stan Lee, the god of Marvel Comics, and in this case, that might just be worse.

I hear Marvel Comics is also toying with the idea of doing movies for Ant-Man, Iron Fist and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. I think those may be the only three Marvel characters that I’d less like to see in a major motion picture. Well, maybe I’d rather see an Ant-Man movie. After all, he can shrink really small. I smell Oscar!

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15593&reviewer=401
originally posted: 08/21/07 16:01:20
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User Comments

1/31/16 Corbin West This movie is far from perfect, yes, but that just makes it more entertaining. 5 stars
9/02/14 Jeff wtf? 1 stars
4/04/12 Jason Coffman One of the worst comic book films ever. 1 stars
6/11/11 JEREMY Cage makes it worthwhile just because he's in it. 4 stars
7/20/08 Shaun Wallner One of my favorite Comic Books come to life! 5 stars
6/21/08 Raymond If someone says this pile of crap was good, then this someone is totally mentally retarded 1 stars
5/17/08 PAUL SHORTT AN ABYSMAL EXCUSE OF A FILM 1 stars
3/15/08 Juan Trailer trash who go see evil knevel type shit will have a ball! 1 stars
2/18/08 Tiffany Losco I thought it was a good movie, Corny at times. But I like corny. 4 stars
10/01/07 Andrew Kercher Cool SFX, but corny take on good vs. evil. Ho hum. 3 stars
9/28/07 Noelle Stephens With all the hype I expected more, though my hubby and kids liked it alot. 3 stars
9/09/07 Russ I thought it was pretty cool. 4 stars
9/07/07 Alexander In all honesty, this movie defines crap and if you say it was good; you have no taste 1 stars
8/24/07 lilmissfun terrible movie, absolutely awful! 1 stars
8/23/07 Quigley Nice effects, but still an amazingly crappy movie. Sam Elliott is awesome. 2 stars
7/28/07 Fred My god that was a bad movie, the worst wasted minutes of my life! 1 stars
7/26/07 MaDmAN Everything in this movie was lame except for Eva, sorry villains, fx, weak story SUCKS!!! 1 stars
7/06/07 Total Crap Mark Steven Johnson... kill yourself and stop making superhero movies, you ass! 1 stars
6/15/07 Delta At least Eva looked great. 1 stars
4/12/07 rimrhino Would have been better if Cage hadn't overdone the "staring down my arm as I point" thing. 3 stars
3/23/07 David Yes, it sucked. 1 stars
3/21/07 Keltie For just a random movie to see when there's nothing else to do, it was entertaining. 4 stars
3/20/07 dude I thought it was good 4 stars
3/09/07 zaw I liked it. It was pretty good Comic book movie 4 stars
2/28/07 Barbbara Wilson seen it with my 6 year old grandson,It wwas good for him, but to me it was just average 3 stars
2/28/07 Van Allen Shane Jr. FUCKIN SUCKED 1 stars
2/27/07 losermaker dont waste your money for this stupid movie 1 stars
2/25/07 Adam It was poo 2 stars
2/24/07 DarkFather Average special effects CANNOT save a crappy movie 1 stars
2/22/07 Ole Man Bourbon What it promises to be. Eva Mendes' cleavage vs Cage's wig is nice subplot. 3 stars
2/21/07 ghostrider if it is such a sucker of a movie, why is it place 1 in the us? I liked it and enjoyed it.. 5 stars
2/20/07 Browncoat These reviewers are so full of shit.When did some Freddy or Jason P.O.S. EVER have a plot? 5 stars
2/20/07 Joe Van Pelt Very dissappointing 1 stars
2/19/07 Jim Serviceable super-hero fluff. Eva Mendes's cleavage steals the movie. 4 stars
2/19/07 chris. fair to crappy action, some scenes looked like you were watching a movie preview. 2 stars
2/19/07 Marlon Brando The horror, the horror... 1 stars
2/19/07 Tiffany I like nicholas cage but thought this movie was dumb 3 stars
2/18/07 Steve B Action was great, Story line was ok. 3 stars
2/18/07 Bad Critic What the hell did I just see? Kill yourself instead and save yourself the agony. 1 stars
2/18/07 LordJiggy Any film that can make Donal Logue not funny has real problems. 2 stars
2/18/07 dravediggaz dis be da shiggity shizzit - fuck you white muthafuckazzzz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/18/07 Todd Why bother making a "comic book" movie if it's going to suck as bad as this one did? 1 stars
2/18/07 Booksworm I always can count on you guys to pan good movies. 5 stars
2/17/07 Donny M Saw it with Anthony^ Thought the same. 4 stars
2/17/07 Anthony G Movie was really good, special effects were insane, story was lacking but awesome action. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Feb-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-Jun-2007

UK
  02-Mar-2007 (12A)
  DVD: 02-Jul-2007

Australia
  15-Feb-2007 (M)




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