Destroyer14 Revisits Ghost Rider (Extended Cut)
I revisit one of the more controversial comic book movies. Is it really as bad as everyone remembers? Come check out my in-depth revisit.
Let me say this first. I have never read a single Ghost Rider comic. I've read a few with him in it, but never from his own series. So this is NOT coming from a person who knows everything, just someone who knows the character and origin. With that said, let's get on to the revisit.
I remember seeing it back in 2007 when it came out on DVD. I've always liked the character. (Who wouldn't like a guy with a flaming skull for a head?) I thought it was cool, but that was when I liked movies for their effects, fights, and just cool scenes. Now that I'm a better reviewer, I can see if it was really a good film, or bad as everyone claims.
In case you don't know the plot, it follows Johnny Blaze, a stunt cyclist who sells his soul to the Devil (known to us comic fans as Mephisto) in return for his father getting healed from his cancer. Meanwhile, the son of the Devil: the demon Blackheart, is on a quest to retrieve a contract for a thousand corrupt souls, which will give him the power to bring Hell to earth. The Devil sends Blaze, who turns into the Ghost Rider to hunt down Blackheart.
Alright, we still here? Good, now you can tell me if that's accurate to the source material. From what I know of the origin, they seem to have kept the core concept.
Nicolas Cage's portrayal of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider was mixed. As Ghost Rider, he's perfect. (Then again, I'm sure most could do that.) As Blaze.....not so much. Sometimes he comes off as cool, but most of the time he's corny and a dud. From what I've seen in the comics, Blaze is a pretty hardcore kinda guy, Cage's performance was lacking something.
Peter Fonda's portrayal of the Devil/Mephistio was spot on. Every scene he was in was great, by far the best performance in the film. He brings out the demonic entity we all fear in a cool new light, with a touch of humor. (I especially like his scene when he's walking through the carnival and he sees a giant picture representation of himself. Great dialogue piece in there.) An underrated performance.
Now for Blackheart. Portrayed by Wes Bentley, his performance was good for me, except one thing. I know Blackheart from the old Marvel Super Heroes arcade game. He's pretty awesome, with the whole demonic look. I didn't like that they took away that look in the film and replaced it with a Twilight-esque appearance. However, now I understand why. Like the Devil, he probably didn't want to show his real look on earth, so he masked it. (We do get a few glimpses though.) I liked Blackheart in the film, the performance was cool and fun.
Okay, the love interest: Roxanne Simpson. Portrayed by Eva Mendes, her performance was probably, no, scratch that. Her performance WAS the worst. She was just plain bad, and there was zero chemistry between her and Cage. It was just a lousy job. (This is one of those movies where the romance is forced.) However, I'll give it credit that it did seem genuine in the beginning flashback. In fact, the beginning when they were younger were better portrayals than when they were older.
One stand out performance was Carter Slade/Caretaker, portrayed by the famous Sam Elliot. The original Ghost Rider in the film, I'd say his performance was the second best. Other performances, such as Blackheart's three lackeys, were good, if not short-lived. (The water guy was finished off in less than two minutes in his battle against Ghost Rider.)
The effects were pretty amazing. (Blaze's transformation into Ghost Rider is one of the coolest scenes in comic book movie history.) The CGI was a bit obvious sometimes, but overall they were great. The fights were cool and satisfying, who doesn't want to see Ghost Rider trading blows with demons?! And the race between Blaze and the original Ghost Rider was a great watch.
Ghost Rider himself is the best part of the film. Taken directly from the comics, his script is cool, and you just gotta love that motorcycle. He gets his signature jacket later in the film. (Complete with retractable spikes.) Really, his is definitely one of the best costume and character adaptions.
Ghost Rider is the Devil's bounty hunter, and lots of demons are involved. So of course, the franchise has lots of religious references. I like how the film makes references, but at the same time, knows how to make it cool for other people that are not into it. "It is all mine, until the End of Days!" That was good, but I especially liked "My name is Legion, for we are many!" I like how they were applied, very nice touches.
Of course, one must mention the phenomenal soundtrack. This is probably, no, it IS the best soundtrack in comic book movies. It really brings the horrific and energetic feel. (C'mon, Ghost Rider's transformation theme was plain EPIC. So was Blackheart's theme.) Grade A music.
In closing, with a better lead and a much better romance, Ghost Rider could have been a masterpiece. Alas, it's still a fun comic book movie. Not as bad as everyone says. (The extended cut is better, with over 14 minutes of footage not seen in the theater, it helps the film a lot.)
I give Ghost Rider a 7/10. Bring on Spirit of Vengeance.
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