STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Peter Fonda, Wes Bentley, Donal Logue, Sam Elliott

2007, 105 Minutes, Directed by:
Mark Steven Johnson

Ghost Rider is all style and flash but no substance, plus the plot makes no damned sense whatsoever. But, hey
it’s a movie about a guy who has a flaming skull for a head, so what exactly were you expecting?

Created in the early 1970s and probably inspired by some biker’s tattoo, Ghost Rider has never been one of the major superheroes in the Marvel pantheon like X-Men, Spider-man, Hulk, Fantastic Four or even Daredevil. (Internet rumor has it that Nicolas Cage has a real-life Ghost Rider tattoo which they had to remove with make-up for some scenes in the movie.)

The story of a stunt motorbike rider named Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) who sold his soul to Satan to save his dad from cancer, Ghost Rider rode the crest of a popularity in supernatural-themed comic books at a time when the stringent self-censorship Hays comic code was being relaxed. (After curing him of cancer Satan by the way made Blaze’s dad die in a motorcycling accident what a louse!)

In Ghost Rider (the movie) Blaze becomes Satan’s or Mephistopheles' as the movie refers to him “bounty hunter” or errand buy. He inadvertently saves humanity from an evil greater when he prevents Satan’s son and his three minions from absorbing a thousand evil souls and overrunning the planet. Or something like that. The plot makes no sense when one tries to apply any logic to it to be honest.

"No skimpily dressed Satan-worshipping babes, alas . . ."

The original comics were pretty cheesy, never made a lot of sense either and featured a lot of skimpily clad Satan-worshipping chicks. The comic book Ghost Rider also spoke in a mightily portentous tone. (Sample line: “I bleed, mortal in the pit of my stomach . . . when I realize I can never be one of you again!”) Some of the portentous dialogue made it into this movie adaptation by Mark Steven Johnson, the director of Daredevil. Unfortunately none of the skimpily-dressed Satanist babes did (I kinda missed them).

Or at least I think some of the cheesy lines made it. I couldn’t decide whose dialogue was the most inaudible: Ghost Rider’s digitally altered Demon voice or actor Sam Eliot’s mumbling. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter: except for those Satanist chicks Ghost Rider has everything one would expect from a Ghost Rider movie.

Like the recent Constantine flick, Ghost Rider boasts a lot of CGI creatures and effects, so much so that one often feels as if one is watching a computer game instead of a movie. Ghost Rider however lacks that movie’s depth (which isn’t saying much, I know) and unlike more successful Marvel comic book adaptations, such as Spider-man 2 and X-2, is also lacking in the suspense and character development department.

However, when it comes to sheer flash, noise and spectacle Ghost Rider is hard to beat and makes for a passable hour and a half at the cinemas. Like I said: it has everything except for those skimpily dressed Satan-worshipping babes of course you’d want from a movie about a guy with a flaming skull for a head . . .

(Notes: stunt biker Johnny Blaze listens to the Carpenters, eats red and yellow jelly beans from a champagne glass and reads a lot of books dealing with Satanism. There also aren’t any Nazi helmet wearing Harley Davison driving motorbike gangs in Ghost Rider. I kinda missed them too. Casting Peter Fonda not exactly fresh from his Easy Rider days as Satan was inspired.)



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