Ghost Rider Is Balls to the Wall Retarded
Maybe what I wrote up there wasn't very PC, so I'll give a half ass Tim Duncan apology and get on with the review. I realize a lot of things here. I realize that what I have to say, judging from the ridicuously overcrowded theater that was apparently having a great time watching this piece of shit last night, is pointless at least for the first weekend. I'm sure it's going to at least break 30 million if not 40 then die like it deserves when it drops over 60% next week. Then it will probably pull in a little over a 100 million at the box office after ten weeks or so, and be considered a success. I also realize I didn't follow my own god damn advice from my own post last week where I pointed out not only the ten movies this Spring to definately give a chance, I made a list of the ten to avoid; "Ghost Rider" fell on the latter list. But I'm a sucker for comic book movies especially ones I based on stories I grew up reading every month; I'm always curious to see how they adapt them, and with the high time we've been having with comic book movies lately, I figured it couldn't be that bad. I thought at the least it would be mindless fun like say "The Fantastic Four."
Remember the late eighties and early nineties when we were being treated to some of the worst comic book movies ever? Dolph Lundrgen as "The Punisher," "Superman IV," hell, I'll even throw "Masters of the Univers" in there. We also had the "Batman" sequels, and to be honest, I find the first "Batman" pretty unwatchable at this point in my life. Well, "Ghost Rider" seems to be harking back to all of those shitfests. Actually, while watching "Ghost Rider," I was thinking, I would actually prefer watching "Howard the Duck" right now. Dolph Lundrgen isn't even sounding so bad at this point; I wonder if I could track down a copy of "I Come in Peace" for later. These were the thoughts going through my mind.
But it can't be that bad, could it? Yes, I'm here to tell you it's that bad and more. Let's start off with something I realized off the bat. The problem here isn't that they didn't stay faithful to the character. Some comic geek blowhards are going to tell you that is the problem, but it's not. I read "Ghost Rider" as a kid along with many other comics, and I liked it just like you'll like about anything as a kid. It was a little darker than most of your superhero comics and it had the Devil in it and demons and shit, so to an 11 yr. old that was pretty damn cool. Chris talked about in his review how all the Ghost Rider character really has is this chain of fire he wips around and the "Penance Stare" which entitles him to stare into your soul and make you relive all of the bad deeds you've done in the past. Well, that's all he had in the comics too. He would be sent out by the Devil to get some evildoer that was pissing him off, and he would trap him with the chain and stare at him. That's really what it amounted too. Sure, there was drama and conflict with Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch depending on which Rider you grew up with, but as far as fighting evil, that's all there was to it. So, when that's all you focus on for the film, which they do, then you don't really have much going for you.
This movie actually has Nicholas Cage starring as Johnny Blaze, but he had plenty of Danny Ketch going for him as well. We'll call him Johnny Ketch for the hell of it. Nicholas Cage is actually getting some props for the role from other reviewers saying he's not the problem. And I guess he's not. However, Nicholas Cage is almost always a fun actor to watch on screen, hell, he had me beleiving that "Gone in 60 Seconds" was a good movie the first time I watched it. But he faces the same problem here that I feel Jack Nicholson does in the first "Batman" movie. I've always thought Nicholson was just playing himself with some goofy make-up on. Well, here, it's the same. Cage is playing Cage; he's not really giving us a character here to work with. Cage's characters always have to have these strange nuances, and it's no different here. He likes to drink, yes I said drink, jelly beans out of wine glasses while listening to The Carpenters. And judging what we know about his real life nuances, this just seems to fit his own mold more than an on-screen character's.
The rest of the actors do more of the same. Sam Elliot gets to do his "Basil Exposition" role for the umpteenth time. I always wish that when I'm in a testy situation, Sam Elliot will show up and explain everything to me. He seems to do it for everybody else. Peter Fonda with a wig I think they stole from Coppola's "Dracula" movie doesn't really have much to work with here. He has to come on-screen and say crazy, evil things like "You owe me your soul!" or "I'll get you for this!" That might have been my favorite, so original. Eva Mendes has never been called on for her acting talents, and considering her cleavage upstages her at every turn, this role seems to be no different. And you wonder why you haven't seen much of Wes Bentley since "American Beauty," well, it's probably because he can't act. Not that the screenplay gives him much choice, but he is really, really bad here. He looks like some teeny-bop fan of Marilyn Manson, and chooses to deliver every line with an over-pronunciation on every word. I'm assuming this is supposed to make him sound more creepy, but it actually makes him sound like a voice or dictation coach.
And Mark Steven Johnson, oh, how do I count the words? Now, the man has written and directed three terrible films (Simon Birch and Daredevil were the previous two), so can this please be enough to kick this man out of Hollywood. I'm sure his heart is in the right place, but he just doesn't have the chops for the job. Dialouge is terrible, the pacing is off, the set-up for every scene is unberable. He has no visual sense, and passing off on the awful CGI in this film was another terrible move. I don't even know how to comment on the action since there really isn't any; I will go back to the forementioned chain of fire and penance stare tactics. That's your action, woo-hoo!
This is a stupid and misguided film in every way imaginable. I don't know how else to put it. The tell-sign in the movie was when Nicholas Cage is flipping through the channels on his television and comes across "Curse of the Demon," a great B&W horror film from the fifties. The fact that when he keeps on going past it I wanted him to go back to it, so I could watch that movie instead is not a good sign for your film, Mr. Johnson. Shame on you, Mr. Johnson, shame on you.