Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
I have had a chance to not only see the draft this person reviewed, but also to talk to key contacts. This review is another fake. I've never read a GHOST RIDER comic in my life and know nothing about the character. As a result, I had nothing to weigh this particular review against until the middle of today. I remain delighted with each and every one of you with spare time on his hands.
At any rate... knowing this isn't the film should make all of you much happier based on the rather hilarious TalkBacks. Check this out...
Ghost Rider Script Review
First of all, I have no idea who wrote this draft, because I received it via email and there was no cover on it. If it’s the David Goyer draft, I’m very impressed because I’ve never been a real fan of the man’s writing. Sure, his Blade and Blade II were great action-packed comic book adaptations, but THIS is in a completely different league altogether. And if this is an early unproduced draft that they have thrown out for whatever reason, then the studios really are going to hell in a hand basket due to stupid decisions because if this gets made, it could be unlike any superhero movie you’ve ever seen before.
Stepping away from the script after my first reading, I couldn’t help but think this is the movie that M Night Shyamalan or Andrew Kevin Walker would make if they were given the Ghost Rider franchise. It’s got character, it’s got action and it’s got some very carefully layered plot twists and turns that will knock you on your ass! Maybe that’s why I’m questioning if it’s the Goyer draft or not. No offense to the man or his fans, but he’s not known for his depth. I would call this more ‘Se7en’ or ‘Unbreakable’ than ‘X-Men’ or ‘Blade’. Those are great comic book movies, but this just doesn’t feel like a ‘comic book’ movie. The supernatural/hero element is just ONE part of the story.
If you’re a die-hard Ghost Rider continuity fan hoping for a direct adaptation of either the Dan Ketch storyline or the Johnny Blaze storyline, then you’re out of luck. I was going to say “then you won’t like this movie”, but that’s very hard to say because the movie stands on it’s own and is more of a loose adaptation or ‘re-imagining’ than a faithful translation. I’m a Ghost Rider fan from way back, so if anyone would get into a huff about the changes made for this story, it would be me.
The main characters here are John Blaze and Roxanne Quentin. In fact, in many ways, this feels like Roxanne’s movie. That’s a very unique point of view to take in my book, but it’s an extremely well-written female lead and she gets about as much screen time as John does. The story is set a few years after their divorce and John and his son are traveling with the Quentin Carnival while Roxanne, who retired from the husband/wife stunt show after almost dying in an accident, has moved to the city and set herself up as a paramedic. None of this is taken from the comic book, but in this story it works well.
‘Ghost Rider’, who is never actually called that by any character in the script, is sighted at the scene of several murders early in the story – leading one to believe ‘it’ is responsible for the deaths. And in these scenes you’ll see Ghost Rider use the ‘penance stare’ and trigger memories and such that are downright creepy/shocking. You just don’t know what to make of this thing early on, because it’s a layered story that will all come together towards the end. About the same time these Ghost Rider sighting start taking place, a bunch of people start showing up at the hospital in a catatonic state with satanic markings burnt into their heads. You immediately assume these are Ghost Rider’s victims. And no one can blame you for that, because that’s what you’re meant to think.
Anyway, Blaze rolls into town, meets up with Roxanne and they are both recruited for their supernatural intelligence by Detective Badalino (also in the comic, but not like this). So, they’re taken on as advisors to help solve the case of the Ghost Rider and the catatonic patients at the hospital. Roxanne has a friend at the hospital (a new character named Angela Freeman) who also helps them out a little with their research. At first, I thought this doctor was a token black character thrown in to move the story along, but she becomes very important later on in the story.
The biggest and most controversial plot point here is that John Blaze is not Ghost Rider…and there is no mention of him ever being Ghost Rider. In fact, no ‘one’ person is the Ghost Rider. The ‘Ghost Rider’ is a spirit of vengeance that is passed from person to person in no discernible common pattern other than the host’s thirst for vengeance for a wrong committed against them in their past or present. The plot here is that the devil (in human form) is offering six different people the chance to become the Ghost Rider for a one-time shot at vengeance in exchange for their souls. And once he has that sixth and final soul, he can take over as the ruler upstairs (Heaven, for the uneducated). Man, that sounds so hokey and cornball in an ‘evil genius’ type of way, but it doesn’t read like that at all…trust me.
So, about midpoint, the plan is vaguely pieced together and it’s up to the four main players to try and find the last few bearers before the process can be completed. And, believe me, it’s a needle-in-the-haystack search if ever there was one…one might say it was a hopeless fight. It is then discovered that the catatonic patients that keep turning up at the hospital are in fact the soulless shells of the people who were given their shot at vengeance with the Ghost Rider spirit of vengeance.
I don’t wanna ruin anything in case (please God) this is the script that is getting made, but the last act is one twist and revelation after another and any confusion you had throughout the first two acts makes so much shocking sense all of a sudden that your jaw drops a few times. While you think you’re reading a straightforward thriller throughout the script, you can’t help but look back at the end and realize what a beautifully layered story it was. And on the second reading, I was amazed at how well it was all paced and tied together. It’s kinda ‘Shyamalan’ in that way, I suppose, but with the mood that Walker set in his Se7en screenplay. I wouldn’t say this is as good as that film, but it is reminiscent for sure.
My praises: This is an intelligent supernatural/thriller. The dialogue is fantastic, the characterization was obviously carefully tended to and the story is so finely woven together that it feels like a heck of a lot of story for a 105 page script. Yet, the pacing is blisteringly fast. And the last act; man, I can’t heap enough praise on it. The ending is somewhat downbeat, but it really is the only ending that could have come about. It all makes so much sense in the end that you forget it’s a ‘funny book’ story. Some of the violence and issues looked at are definitely not movie-stylised and I fear that some of it will go if they ever wanna scrape in with an R rating. As it stands, this is an NC-17 picture for sure. It would be a very brave move to keep everything intact.
My problems: The controversy of the very idea behind Ghost Rider being something that is passed around from person to person is gonna make so many people bitch about ‘unfaithful adaptations’ that I think they’d be better served changing the title and character names and a few plot points and making it a whole new movie. There are still a few confusing elements and a few plot points that were maybe a little too ‘convenient’ for my tastes. I would definitely like to see Blaze having been the Ghost Rider in the past. It would take away from the sense of horror the characters face when first seeing the Ghost Rider, but it would add so much to the other parts of the story…like WHY Blaze and Roxanne have knowledge of the supernatural and maybe a way for Blaze to tap into the power to find the next bearer. As it is, it seems like a ‘Wow, good thing we bumped into the final bearer out here on the street or we’d be screwed’ type of explanation. But these gripes are just personal nit-pickings.
This is going to be a controversial take on a semi-popular character, but in no way “Holy shit; Luthor has superpowers” controversial. Is it faithful to the comics? Nope. It takes ideas and characters from the comics and uses them in this story…like most comic book adaptations do. In fact, I’d say this is a BETTER story than the comics. And I’m a big Ghost Rider fan (which is why this script was leaked to me), so that’s not easy for me to say. All I CAN say is that I’ll be there at the crack of dawn on opening day if this is what makes it to the big screen.
Mr Goyer, if this is your script, then I want to commend you on single-handedly changing my mind on your ‘talents’ in under two hours.
I guess if I have to have a cutesy undercover name it will be:
Ghost Rider In The Machine
Nice work, man. I hope I get a chance to steal a peek at this one soon m’self.