Published at: Feb. 16, 2007, 9:45 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Oh. Dear. God. Where to begin? No, really. Where to begin? Ghost Rider is a total mess practically from start to finish, a giant flaming turd racing down the highway at 200 MPH. But worry not. This ain’t X-Men 3. This isn’t The Punisher. This isn’t going to be one of my fevered rants about the failure to get this right. No, this is more of a defeated sigh. Because while I certainly won’t compare it to X3, I will invoke Fantastic Four. Really, when all is said and done, that’s exactly what this is. They get as much right as they get wrong – but all the while, they never manage to make anything resembling a good movie.
There are parts of this film I really like, and parts that just plain work despite itself. And I’m just gonna come right out and say it – because I know what you’re all wondering. Yes. Nicholas Cage is just fine as Johnny Blaze. In fact, I think it was pretty good casting to bring him on board. Almost everything with him in the first act works. He draws you in, makes Blaze three-dimensional and is really giving it his all. His decade long quest to play a comic book character finally complete, no one, and I mean NO ONE, will be able to say he half-assed it at all. Whether you like him or not is the big question – but he’s absolutely leaving it all out there.
And every single syllable that spills out of Sam Elliot’s mouth is just magical. His voice over, his appearances in the film – he is the perfect embodiment of the bearer of the Ghost Rider mythos. Cornball? Cheesy? Yeah. Sure. But for those willing to embrace that kind of thing in a comic book film, it was pretty freaking cool. No one in this day and age speaks in the tones of the Old West like Elliot does, and in a long tradition of great actors in crap movies (From Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon to Jeremy Irons in Eragon) he seems to be acting as if he were in a completely different movie than everyone else.
And Donal Logue (who seems now to be making his way through the movie versions of the Midnight Sons – heads up for those casting Dr. Strange or Morbius movies) is pretty much as he always is – likable, funny and around just long enough to never get annoying.
But sadly – that’s all there is to like. Because everything else is part of a 2 hour road trip from Blowstown to Sucksville. It starts out just fine – with the first act taking a slow but deliberate ramp up of the origin of Ghost Rider. But then we’re introduced to the villain…and the movie begins going downhill. Fast.
You see, the big bad guy of the movie is a guy named Blackheart. He’s…well…he’s the son of the devil. And that’s all well and good. Except that he’s a goddamned Emo kid with a vocoder for a voice box. And like all good Emo kids he’s pissed off at daddy and wants to make him pay – so he gets together with his little eyeliner wearing, trench coat sporting, emo posing buddies, and they set out to get this scroll with a thousand evil souls on it. At which point Daddy activates his flaming skulled bounty hunter to deliver the spanking of a lifetime to little Tickle Me Emo and Company. Enter the Ghost Rider.
And thus begins several nonsensical action sequences that not only bore you, but stun you with their startling lack of logic and creativity. Villains simply stand still and wait for Ghost Rider to burn them alive. Seriously. They’ve got these Nephalim (the aforementioned emo kids) that have merged with the elements (Air, Earth and Water – no fire, oddly enough, because, you know, a guy that stands still AND is made of fire poses a problem that can’t quite be written around) that seem to exist ONLY to have their asses handed to them. Which is totally okay, because no matter how many of them are in one place at one time, Ghost Rider will leave inexplicably so they can regroup and repeat the same fight scene 20 minutes later.
If I were to ask you between the human storyline and all of the Ghost Rider fight/CG scenes, what you’d be most likely to fast forward through – you would give me the wrong answer. You’d say you’d keep the action and dump the Nick Cage stuff. Dear god how wrong you would be. I’m sorry, but the flaming skull spitting out vocoded puns is just wrong, even before considering how unnatural and stiff the CG looks. With an added layer of campy, aren’t we so damned clever, Akiva Goldmanesque witticisms, it just becomes entirely too much. There becomes this muddled not-quite-sure-what-it-wants-to-be gray area that when coupled with the lame action, transcends boring and just becomes bad.
And while I have certainly never been a fan of Eva Mendez before, I really dislike the hell out of her now. She has this whole redeemed pornstar delivery to almost all of her lines that makes you think A) the girl can’t act or B) she was walking around muttering “a fucking skeleton on a motorcycle? I’m gonna fire my fucking agent. Right after I cash this gigantic check.” Of course, as the wardrobe department could never find quite enough buttons to actually make her a shirt that buttoned past the base of her sternum, it’s pretty god damned clear that she wasn’t chosen for her acting.
And for the love of all that is holy, can we please, please, please, put a moratorium on Marvel super hero films that exist in their own, distinct universe? Sony owns Spider-Man for Christ sakes. Why must we endure yet ANOTHER movie where everyone gapes and mugs and seems to not be able to comprehend what the hell a superhero is? Have we not had enough of those where the police are baffled, everyone thinks the hero is crazy and this seems to be an isolated incident? You know, ASIDE from whatever created the villains? Now, I’m not going to hold that against Ghost Rider, per se – but this film does spend a bit too long playing with the whole no one can comprehend what this is thing. It’s about time that someone says “Wait, are you telling me you think you’re flippin’ Spider-Man?” I’m not asking for a team up or a cameo – just an acknowledgment that there’s this whole universe of super powered folk out there and this isn’t the whole enchilada. Hell, I’d settle for a bitter cop that mumbles ”Damned super heroes. Why does it always have to be super heroes?” when investigating yet another incident of flaming initials on the ground.
Look, I like Mark Steven Johnson. While I certainly enjoyed but didn’t love the theatrical Daredevil, I did purchase and completely fall in love with his Directors Cut. But this doesn’t for one moment feel like the same writer/director. This feels like Sony gave him too much leeway and far too big a toy box to play with, and he never knew quite what to do with it. The result is a meandering, boring, and often awkward attempt at making a superhero movie. If given the choice between watching this or Fantastic Four again, I would have to push past my complete disinterest in it and watch Fantastic Four for a second time. I can’t recommend this for anyone.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.