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Feigning normality since 1973

Review: Ghost Rider

Filed in: TV & Movies.

Warning! Review may contain traces of spoilers.

On the weekend, I went to see Ghost Rider, the latest conversion of a Marvel comics hero to the big screen. I'm not really familiar with the comic version, so I don't know how comic-accurate the movie version was, but it was a pretty good film.

[Ghost Rider image]
Itchy, burning scalp? Your head might be on fire.

Johnny Blaze is a young stunt rider who's father has just been diagnosed with cancer. Enter Mephistopheles, who offers the fellow a deal - his father's health in return for Johnny's soul. Johnny signs the contract, the devil erases dad's cancer and tells Johnny not to make any long-term plans.

Fast foward twenty years or so, and son of Satan is roaming Earth looking for a lost contract which will bestow him with many souls. The Devil is not happy at this and wants the contract for himself, so he activates Johnny as the Ghost Rider in order to fight Satan Jr and his elemental-based henchmen.

I quite enjoyed this movie...

Nicolas Cage is pretty good as the out-of-his-depth hero who transforms into a fiery skeleton at night. Johnny Blaze, unfortunately, doesn't seem to come across as very smart at times, but perhaps it's because Cage is playing a younger character than his age. Also kudos to Matt Long (young Johnny Blaze) for managing to do a pretty good impression of Nick Cage without it seeming like an impression of Nick Cage

Roxanne Simpson is the prototypical arse-kicking female love interest. Her primary role is to doubt Johnny's sanity, break up with him, then realise he was telling the truth all along and hook up with him again in time to be kidnapped by the villains. Eva Mendes did very well with the role, but utimately Roxanne is a bit of a cliché.

Fulfilling the role of the mentor is the Caretaker (Sam Elliott), who sounds like Johnny Cash and provides all the back story exposition. Unfortunately I saw the plot twist with this character some fifty miles away.

The bad guys are a mixed bunch - you've got:

  1. Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) who's the most impotant Satan ever. He can bestow huge powers on Johnny, yet he can't even keep his own son under control.
  2. The three elemental henchmen, explained as fallen angels who hide within the "elements" (water, air, etc, not hydrogen, helium, etc. I'd love to see a helium elemental). They look really impressive, but never actually kill anyone.
  3. Darkheart, aka Son of Satan, who does all the killing (he appears to drain the life out of people, or something). Wes Bentley is really very menacing in this role and manages to distract from the fact the character has a very silly name which sounds like it's from a SF B-movie version of Star Wars.

Random other notes:

  • Johnny "signs" the contract by accidentally pricking his thumb and dripping blood on it. I'm not entirely sure whether that would hold up in court...
  • The Ghost Rider CGI skeleton effect doesn't quite look realistic enough, but I guess if he'd looked too realistic, I think the character would have lacked sympathy.
  • Also, his flaming motorcycle is really really cool (though the property damage it causes would increase rates and insurance premiums in his typical haunts no end).
  • Is it just me, or is Spawn actually a huge rip off of Ghost Rider? Super-powered servant of Satan who turns against his master and roams the land doing good deeds? Both of them have chains and morphing equipment? Hmmm!
  • Kiwi actor Joel Tobeck was apparently also in the film, though I didn't spot him. By the looks he was in the jail scene?
  • The police in this film are really blasé. They have a bunch of zombified corpses and a dead guy with that bizarre eye effect, yet they seem to react as if this sort of thing happens all the time, and naturally when they find a badly-scorched license plate, they immediately treat the owner as prime suspect. How the hell did they think he'd committed all these murders? "Sure, I freeze-dried all those people."

Posted April 2, 2007 9:03 PM


This film was a tough one for me... I enjoyed watching it, but it really wasn't in any way outgoing or innovative. Nick gave another way-out performance, and some generic bad guys got whupped. the CG was the only standout success here, but it was harmless enough, otherwise.

Posted by: Jeff | April 7, 2007 8:12 AM

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