100 Days of Superheroes- Day 65: Ghost Rider (2007)
Nick Cage as Johnny Blaze would be like Tom Hanks as Wolverine.
“Back to hell!”
Really? How hard can it be to adapt a comic based on a demon flaming skeleton who rides a motorcycle and works as a bounty hunter for hell? And as I write that I suddenly realize….very.
Yet perhaps the first step in getting the character right was to NOT hire Nicolas Cage. Now let me start by saying that I don’t think that Cage is a bad actor, I just think that he’s very very bad at picking his movies and without the right director, has the tendency to over play things. Such is the case with Ghost Rider.
Directed by the maker of the hit critical sensation Daredevil (<-Sarcasm), Ghost Rider was quick to fall into almost every single problem that Daredevil had. First on the list is the bad casting. Ben Afflec is also not a horrible actor but like Nick Cage, just isn’t right for the role. Cage gave good performances in films like Raising Arizona, Bad Lieutenant, and Kick ass but he is about as right for the role of biker Johnny Blaze as Tom Hanks would be for Wolverine.
In fact the casting of the young Johnny Blaze was much better, so much so that I was actually kind of disappointed when the film reached the end of the origin and jumped forewords.
So what is the plot of this film? We are introduced to a young Johnny Blaze who does a bike show with his dying father. The Devil shows up on the door and offers to cure papa Blaze in return for Johnny’s soul. The deal seems to go smoothly but like an infant six year old the devil kills Johnny’s father just so he can pretty much say “Nanannana I tricked you!”
The film then jumps forward to Blaze who now does death-defying stunts, believing that the devil is protecting him. This was probably the most interesting (or at least intriguing) part of the film and short lived. The Devil returns and proclaims Blaze to be his Bounty Hunter, Ghost Rider. He then sends him after his rebellious son Black Heart.
Now here is where the film just stops making sense. The Devil makes another deal with Blaze that if he completes the assignment, he will lift the curse. This is a mute incentive and further incoherent by the fact that Johnny has no choice anyways. He is a slave and incapable of defying the devil’s wishes so why then would the devil NEED to make another pointless deal with him. Why not just say “F*ck you Blaze, you’re my slave now get to work!”
The sad part is that the bounty hunter storyline could have been actually pretty cool if they bothered to add some actual threatening villains. Blackheart is one of the most hammy villains we have seen on screen in a while and his three sidekicks are just downright useless. They are scared of Ghost Rider and should be as he kicks their ass without any real trouble or worry.
The only real villainous character was Peter Fonda’s devil. Though I’m not sure if you can consider him a real villain in this film. He is more of a plot device for the origin and to get the story rolling. Yet all the same Fonda gives probably the best performance and his casting seems of little coincidence considering he is most famous for the biker film Easy Rider.
This is a superhero film so our damsel in distress is Eva Mendes as Roxanne. Though their back-story relationship may be interesting the grown up portion was poorly handled and not particularly interesting or engaging. It just serves to fulfill the Supehero cliché of having the love interest captured at the climax of the story.
Sam Eliot also makes his CBM return here (after the awful Hulk). Here he plays his usual typecast stereotypical cowboy character. Unfortunately he only exists as a gimmicky info dump for the audience and Blaze. In fact the entire film is very heavy handed and lacks subtlety.
The dialogue itself is very stilted and is made all the worse by the accents that come and go by various characters. Cage’s is the worst. At times it sounds like he almost has this southern drawl that will vanish as quickly as it comes. Lets also not forget the shoddy CGI. The Ghost rider looks almost cartoonish but the portrayal of how he can create Rider weapons and tools is cool.
So overall the film is a mess of mediocrity. The only things that work are within the built in mythology that makes the jump. Similar to the first Hulk film, the film suffers from over stylized edits (like cutting to close up on explosions within the eyes) which make it feel all the more corny.
The film only major redeemable quality is that it works as a pretty awesome drinking game. Every time a character does the pointing pose.
Take a drink. Hint: they do it at least nine times, I stopped counting after that.
FINAL RATING: 3/10- (30%)
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