|Image Courtesy en.wikipedia.org|
Ghost Rider tells the origin of Johnny Blaze’s version of the character: he makes a deal with the devil to save his father, who then dies anyways, and then the devil comes to collect and makes Johnny his “bounty hunter.” Johnny is tasked with tracking down Blackheart and preventing him from getting his hands on a contract containing the souls of 1000 people which would make him all-but invincible.
It’s a fairly simple movie, and in terms of plot it does give Johnny a complete arc as he recovers from his father’s death and struggles to reconcile himself with the bargain that he made with the devil. Johnny goes from living on the road, avoiding responsibility and attachments, and running from his past to standing up for what is right, even against the devil himself. However, the fact that it has a simple plot doesn’t improve it too much. There are way too many other things wrong with it.
Let’s start off by talking about Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze. I’m not as familiar with the comic book version of the character as with other characters, so I can’t say whether the portrayal of the character is accurate. Cage is certainly enjoying himself in the role—of course, he enjoys himself in just about every role when he gets a chance to cut loose! However, I don’t know if Ghost Rider is supposed to be quite so hammy. Also, why does Johnny need to have so many weird quirks, specifically his obsession with chimps and candy??? And I get why a stunt rider would have a bunch of motorcycles, but why so many?
Sam Elliott as Carter Slade might actually be one of the brighter spots in this movie. He exudes the air of an old cowboy with tons of barely-restrained wisdom to pass on to the next generation—and Blaze as the next generation is all set to ignore him. It’s disappointing that he wasn’t given more to do in the movie, particularly because they teased us with him transforming right before the final fight scene, only for him to then turn and ride off into the sunset. Honestly, they shouldn’t have even had him transform if they weren’t going to do something with it!
Eva Mendes plays the love interest in this movie, Roxanne. I don’t remember her last name because she really wasn’t that important to it except as a damsel for Johnny to rescue at the end of the movie. Looking at her list of awards and nominations, she’s actually a really good actress, but her talent is really wasted in this movie. She gets a chance to be the sloppy drunk chick that got stood up on a date. Next she’s the damsel in distress. She also gets to be angry at Johnny for standing her up. That’s about it. To be completely honest, there are exactly two reasons why she is in this movie, and the costuming department puts them on display as much as they possibly can in a PG-13 movie!
The villain in the movie is Blackheart, who makes his evilness apparent early on by killing everyone in a biker bar. For some reason. There’s no depth to the character beyond the fact that he’s a bad guy and his fallen angel cronies obey him. Anyone who thinks MCU movies have bad villains clearly hasn’t been watching the previous “attempts” to create villains in Marvel movies! Every scene he is in before Johnny becomes the Rider is absolutely stupid. Most of the scenes he’s in after Johnny becomes the Rider are also stupid! It’s clever that Johnny defeats him by allowing him to absorb the 1000 souls, thus making him 1000 times as susceptible to Johnny’s Penance Stare, but that’s the only clever thing to happen with this character.
There are a few interesting and exciting action sequences in this film, and the effects for Ghost Rider and the bike are surprisingly good. However, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did about as well (on a TV budget) this past season—without all the obvious CGI moments that this movie has. Admittedly, the technology has changed a bit in the last decade, so it’s not much of a complement to say that AoS did as well as or better than this movie!
Before concluding this review, there’s one last thing I need to say. This movie tries really hard to be dark and intense, but every single time that they try to make a jump-scare, it just plain doesn’t work. In fact, all of these “jump-non-scares” just made me laugh.
This isn’t the worst movie I’ve watched this summer (I don’t think anything will “top” Elektra for that “honor”), but it certainly is not good. Maybe the sequel will be better, but I’m not exactly holding my breath for it!