Hasnt the Marvel Comic Books stable of heros ran out yet? Apparently not; queue Ghost Rider (2007), a movie that when the credits rolled left a lot to be desired, and begged the following questions: how did this hackneyed script get past the editors and what was Eva Mendes thinking?
Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Elektra, Daredevil) Ghost Rider as I stated is based on the Marvel Comics comic book of the same name. The movie deals with the creation of the creature, the Ghost Rider, herald of the Devil, who is human by day, and skull burning creature from Hell by night or in the shadows. In the movie adaptation Nicolas Cage (Lord of War, National Treasure, Raising Arizona) portrays Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider a motorcycle stunt driver who as a teen sold his soul to the Devil a.k.a. Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) in order to save his father(Brett Cullen).
But of course Mephistopheles a.k.a. the Devil saves his father only to take his life the next day and young Johnny, heart-broken rides off into the sunset leaving his sweetheart Roxanne Simpson (Raquel Alessi) standing by the love tree. But Johnny is still beholden to Mephistopheles and the evil one, sans horns, watches over his Ghost Rider ensuring no harm comes to visit him.
Twenty or so years pass until a grown up Roxanne (Eva Mendes Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Hitch, We Own the Night) comes back into his life and with her Mephistopheles who now lays claim to his Ghost Rider in order to battle his own son Blackheart (Wes Bentley The Four Feathers, American Beauty) and his band of merry evil doers.
It is hard to take this movie seriously, I mean really, who wrote the dialog for this muddled dance with the devil? The question is of course rhetorical, Johnson takes writing credits, but very few of the Marvel classic comics have been turned into meaningful, intelligent, really enjoyable movies. And Ghost Rider continues in that not-so-fine tradition, is a convoluted mess. The movie wanders and meanders into and out of the corridors of the improvable and ridiculous.
Throughout this farce I had to keep reminding myself that the movie is based on a comic book and should be given some editorial and theatrical leeway. But as the credits rolled I was profoundly disappointed that a better film wasnt made. Cage was his usual self, meaning he inhabits the role with much gusto and with a smidge of over acting thrown in for good measure.
And Eva Mendes was little more than eye candy; her time on-screen was limited as was her mostly inane dialog. At one point when Johnny and Roxanne are getting reacquainted he mentions her being married, but the question was never really addressed. And then there were those disjointed shots of her waiting for Johnny to show up at a local restaurant getting sauced and finally asking her waiter if her thought she were pretty.
And that is emblematic of the entire film; plot lines are left dangling and questions unanswered and the dialog is trite and close to meaningless. It is almost as if the Johnson forgot where he was in the script from time-to-time, or that he was dealing with real people. The whole thing was very disconcerting. It isnt surprising that Johnson is the one who brought another Marvel Comics hero to the screen in the personage of Dare Devil. I remember that movie lacked a certain something as well.
And was it just me or does Ms. Mendes look seriously tired in this movie and in need a vacation?
No one could fault the special effects in Ghost Rider, there were of course top notch, I just wish there were more of them. Perhaps the Rider could have dispatched a few more evil-doers on his road to redemption. And since when do humans without souls care for the affairs of mortal men? And how does one function without a soul anyway? But I digress
Sam Elliott appears in Ghost Rider portraying a wizened old character named The Caretaker, who of course has all the answers to Johnny unasked questions; after all he is a Ghost Rider as well. He, the Caretaker, also acts as the moderator for the story. His presence no doubt is meant to give Ghost Rider the gravitas it might otherwise lack and Elliot with his grizzled learned tone infuses the movie with a neo-western theme, layered with equal amounts of ominous guitar twang and classic arena rock.
But Elliot cannot make up for Ghost Riders lack of plot layers and emotional depth. The movie is a bunch of scenes stuck together without a coherent center or likeable characters. Ghost Rider is a lazy film that is regrettably uninterested in it characters, and equally as uninterested in its audiences ability to tell a turkey from a swan.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12
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