Ghost Rider Movie Review

Mark Steven Johnson's film about Marvel's demon-possessed stunt rider is fun but ultimately unsatisfying.
Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson probably shouldn’t be allowed to make any more Marvel Comics movies.

Don’t get me wrong. His earlier effort, Daredevil, and his newest, Ghost Rider, opening this weekend are okay efforts. But as with the 2003 Ben Affleck film, the Ghost Rider film earnestly tackles a cherished comic book super-hero but ultimately fails to satisfy. One is left with the itching idea that so much more could have been done and with more finesse.

Ghost Rider, starring Nic Cage, stays true to the characters’ roots, for the most part, as established in Marvel Spotlight in 1973. Stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the Devil (Mephistopheles) in order to save the life of dying father (in the comics it was his adoptive father, but the meaning is the same), only to be tricked into a life of servitude to Hell, saddled with a demonic spirit of justice that only comes out at night. He fights the Devil’s battles against demonic spirits including Blackheart, Mephistopheles’ own son.

Cage, attempting to re-establish a flagging movie career, finally gets to make a super-hero film after being left behind in the long-haul to bring Superman to the screen. Johnson wisely writes in plenty of self-deprecating jokes to make light of the improbable situation as well as Cage’s own quirky persona. However, many times the script is so hokey that the audience is confused as to when to laugh. And Cage’s continual Elvis-like posing distracts from the film, fosters unintentional snickering and breaks his connection to the Blaze character.

Eva Mendes is very sexy, of course, as teenage girlfriend-turned-reporter and ultimately more successful with the lines Johnson gives her. But, as is often the case with super-hero films, she ultimately proves nothing more than a hostage for the hero to rescue.

The Ghost Rider effects and battles are spectacular, and the best part of the film by far. However, instead of allowing for some time of trial and error that would serve to endear the character to the audience, the Ghost Rider immediately knows exactly how to use his powers including his most potent weapon: the Penance Stare.

The film’s villain, Blackheart (played by Wes Bentley), is frightening enough but not terribly interesting and every good action film needs a foe that this is at least as interesting as the hero and Blackheart doesn’t deliver. Each of Blackheart’s elemental henchmen fall much too easily for their supposed power.

Nothing illustrates this film’s failure to deliver on its potential more than a scene near the end of the film where Sam Elliott’s Caretaker character rides to the final battle alongside Cage; a stirring sequence, but then fades away without barely word just before the final conflict.

I hope more Ghost Rider films are made but I’m not sure Johnson or Cage is the best choice to keep this franchise above ground.
0 Yes
0 No
Comic Book Movie