March 1, 2007

A Flaming Pile of . . . Fun???

Ghost Rider

Matt Watson – 2 out of 5 Stars

It’s been awhile since I wrote a movie review. I could have reviewed Letters from Iwo Jima or Smokin’ Aces but instead I decided to wait until we saw Ghost Rider. I shouldn’t have waited.

Ghost Rider is the story of Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), son of a motorcycle daredevil that as a teenager signs his soul over to the devil. In exchange for his Johnny’s wish, the Devil makes Johnny a ghost rider, one of the devil's bounty hunters. When the time comes it will be up to Johnny to find and repatriate demons that have escaped from Hell.

The movie started out promisingly enough. Director Mark Steven Johnson sets up the action quickly and our introduction to Peter Fonda as the Devil is a great scene that’s tinged with little references to Easy Rider. He even manages to get in a quick nod to bluesman Robert Johnson and his famous crossroads tale. Unfortunately, once we catch up to Johnny as an Adult, its all high gear and there’s no time for niceties.

We find out that Johnny has continued in his father’s daredevil footsteps and is a modern day Evel Knievel. Each jump is more perilous than the last because in the back of his mind Johnny knows he’s under the protection of the devil. Each stunt is an almost an attempt at suicide. His latest stunt is jumping a football field and that feat brings him back home to Texas and into contact with his childhood sweetheart Roxanne (Eva Mendes). She’s all grown up and works as the on scene reporter for a local TV station. Johnny abandoned her once and before he can make things right with her the Devil comes to collect on Johnny’s debt. It seems the Devil’s son, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), is trying to steal the throne of darkness from dad and its Johnny’s job to stop him. Oh yeah, and this is when Johnny turns into a flaming skeleton. That’s right, a skeleton. Yep, he’s on fire. Once you get past that the effects are well done. Ghost Rider is pretty menacing and his skeleton motorcycle is badass. Unfortunately that’s about it. His powers aren’t very cool and he talks in a mono-syllabic whine that it completely distracting.

I know I’m not painting a pretty picture here, and that’s on purpose. From a film perspective the movie is pretty bad. But I have to say, I enjoyed myself. Ghost Rider is the kind of picture that you just have to let go to enjoy. The actors have nothing to work with, the effects are over the top, the plot is non-existent, and the whole thing is terrible. Except that it’s a lot of fun. Eva Mendes looks great, Nic Cage gets to be Nic Cage, Sam Elliot does his thing as the older, wiser mentor, and we get to see a flaming skeleton ride around town on a Harley from hell. What’s not to like? When I saw the trailer for this movie I thought “that looks awful but I want to see it anyway”. I was right, it was awful but I’m glad I saw it.


Nate said...

Two stars? Seriously?! What would you give 1 star?

Watson said...

I think Elektra would come closest.

Chris Needham said...

nate: guzman :: watson : bad movies ?

Watson said...

We all have our weaknesses . . .