Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Premise: An adaptation of the Marvel comic book character. Motorcycle daredevil Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) makes a pact with Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) to act as a messenger for the devil in exchange for invincible riding skills. When another demon (Wes Bentley) attempts to unleash a secret den of souls, Blaze must protect this secret or some unspecified catastrophe will result.
What Works: The filmmakers behind Ghost Rider must have realized early on that they were going to make a bad film and so the actors and screenwriter have smartly injected as much humor as possible. This helps the movie considerably, especially throughout the early part of the film where very little happens. Sam Elliott is a welcome addition to the cast, as his voice and authority lend the film a little class.
What Doesn’t: Despite the humor, it is difficult to defend a film so blatantly stupid. The demons of the film are laughable and pose no threat to the hero. Unlike the animated Spawn television series (but like the disappointing live action film of the same character) Ghost Rider is not interested in any of the possible conflicts or implications of a hero coming from Hell. Instead, it is just an excuse to use fire and brimstone imagery with no regard for the meaning of that imagery. When Blaze turns into the Ghost Rider, a flaming skeleton who rides a motorcycle that looks like it was pimped out by Leatherface, the special effects are very sloppy. During the action sequences there is plenty of flash and shots of Ghost Rider zooming from place to place, but why he goes where he does and why he is going there are rarely addressed. The actors sleepwalk through the movie, especially Eva Mendez who plays Blaze’s long lost love.
Bottom Line: Ghost Rider is about a man who turns into a flaming skeleton. That ought to tell you something about the nature of the film. If it were not for the humor, the film would be impossible to sit through.
Episode: #132 (March 11, 2007)