Monday, August 1, 2011

Ghost Rider

Credentials: 5.2 out of 10 ( / 27% Certified Rotten ( / 35 out of 100 (
Plot: A motorcycle stuntman named Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) sells his soul to a devil (not THE Devil, but some second rate demon called Mephistopheles) to save his father’s life. Blaze is then apparently cursed with the ability to become an indestructible, fire-wielding member of Mephistopheles’ debt collection team. I say apparently because there doesn’t appear to be any downside to this alleged curse. Blaze maintains his free will, often doing the exact opposite of what his other-worldly pimp desires and gets all those cool new super powers to go with it. Plus, his head turns into a flaming, pun-spewing skull at night, which is totally awesome. Oh yeah, and eventually a bunch of other demons show up to take over the world and Blaze has to stop them. Still, as far as curses go, doesn’t seem so bad.
Thoughts: I was one of those unlucky souls who saw “Ghost Rider” when it first slithered its way into theaters way back in 2007. I remember walking out of that theater a little dazed and confused by what I had just witnessed. Not even several savage slaps to my face by a trusted business associate could lift me out of my fog.
The plot was a complete and utter mystery, a fact that’s haunted me ever since.

Determined not to let “Ghost Rider” beat me, I sat down to watch it again, four years older and wiser. My senses honed by over half a year of sifting through Hollywood’s garbage.
I’m proud to say that after my second viewing, I now can claim to understand “Ghost Rider.” I wouldn’t recommend that others sit through it twice, I’m a trained professional and it’s just not worth it.
After all, there's more to a good movie than just understanding what’s going on.
For starters, the script by Mark Steven Johnson (who also directed this) isn’t anything special. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason the pun is the best friend of the horrible writer. Without any sort of skill to fall back on, these individuals take to cramming as many puns as they can into a single line of dialogue.
The biggest thing working against “Ghost Rider,” though, is for an action movie, it lacks any sort of action. Our hero swats away his main adversaries like they were flies. The end result is like watching someone play a videogame on easy.  You can’t help but thinking: “Boy there should be more to it than that!”
Nicholas Cage takes a lot of heat for being a bad actor. I disagree with that. I think he’s an OK actor who makes horrible choices. And despite that, he rarely just collects a paycheck. He’s always willing to burn calories for his audience, usually donning a crazy wig and/or silly accent. Anything to keep people interested. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
Cage is in all his glory here. He eats red and yellow jelly beans out of a martini glass, he’s obsessed with howler monkeys and adores The Carpenters. If any of that was in the script, I’d be shocked. So credit where credit is due, at least he’s trying.
The same can’t be said for his supporting players.
The legendary Peter Fonda (Mephistopheles) wanders around like a lost child in an amusement park. It’s hard to blame him, the script is also pretty directionless. The rest of the demons, led by Edward Cullen wannabe Blackheart (Wes Bentley) are just as forgettable.
Eva Mendes is hot, the great Sam Elliott is old and grizzled and Donal Logue is… umm… there. Really, other than Cage, no one’s even breaking a sweat.   
:16- The amazing Johnny Blaze? What? I could not land that jump too and it wouldn’t make me amazing.   
:34- If you ever wanted to watch two demons fight over a light switch, well, here you go
:54- The obvious question here would be: “Hey, Sam Elliott, how do you know the ins and outs of life as a Ghost Rider?”
1:00- People do a lot of leaving town in this movie. I think that’s a strictly Hollywood thing. In the real world, people move, they don’t leave town
1:12- The trail of fire Ghost Rider’s motorcycle leaves is a pretty horrible plan. Makes him pretty easy to track down. “Which way did he go?” “I dunno, maybe we should follow this flaming trail.”
1:14- Ghost Rider just took a dump all over the laws of physics
1:19- Really Johnny Blaze!? Still NO interest in how Sam Elliott knows the intricate and mysterious history of the Ghost Rider?! Not concerned at all about that, even a tiny bit???     
Video Evidence
Take that physics...
                So there you have it: “Ghost Rider.” Mark your calendars, kiddies, there’s a sequel coming out in February!
                Bumblebee tuna.

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