Ror Revisits: Ghost Rider
With the trailer for Ghost Rider: SOV getting a pretty positive response I thought I would go back and take a look at the first movie, which for the most part did not.
Continuing with the dregs of the CBM back catalog, I take a look back at Mark Steven Johnson's 2007 take on Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage...
I actually remember thinking the trailer for this looked pretty good too, I was looking forward to it. I'm not one of these people that thinks Nicholas Cage is the Devil incarnate as I am aware of some incredible performances of his over the years. That being said there is no doubt that he CAN be pretty terrible in both his acting and in his movie choices. Then we had the Director, Mark Steven Johnson who brought us the much maligned Daredevil. Thing is, I liked Daredevil! So that didn't put me off either. Then I saw it.
In fairness, I didn't outright hate the movie the first time I watched it. It had it's moments. And looking back on it again those moments still stand out. Ghost Rider himself remains pretty impressive both in appearance and as a character. It's just a shame the movie built around him is so lackluster. The plot is very basic and by the numbers but that's not really a deal breaker in a movie like this. We have our heroes , we have our villains and we have our love interest etc etc. The problem is Johnson doesn't do anything unique or surprising to raise such an interesting character out of the confines of the basic studio super hero movie story that he was always going to be landed with. And if you don't have a cast or a script that will raise it up for you, well you're pretty screwed.
Cage is not on form here, but nor is he at his worst. He at least attempts to make Johnny Blaze a bit quirky and original with a jelly bean addiction and a Carpenters obsession. Probably a surprising departure for those expecting to see the hard drinking/smoking Blaze from the comics but it's a brave gamble. It just doesn't quite work. And then later on the usual Cage overacting occurs and you kinda stop giving a damn. Only when Johnny Blaze is Ghost Rider does the movie come alive and we get some great set pieces. The drive up the side of the building, the prison break etc. But we always have to go back to Cage gurning away. And he isn't nearly the worst thing here. Wes Bentley may well give the single worst performance in the history of CBMs as the villain Blackheart. Not only is he completely un-intimidating, he fails to convince on every single level an actor can. SHITE. Eva Mendes isn't much better, the definition of hot but bland. But we do have Sam Elliot and Peter Fonda to liven things up a bit but they can't save the movie from descending into complete arse.
A decent enough first act and some stunning Ghost Riding can't save this. Ghost Rider should have been an insane, heavy metal, biker orgy. It needn't have even made too much sense, just blast Henry Rollins and have things burn. It seems like Neveldine/Taylor get this so let's hope their upcoming sequel/reboot/re-imagining/whatever doesn't disappoint.
Check out the rest of my reviews and revisits HERE
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