February 21, 2007
It was pretty easy to see that the "Ghost Rider" movie could hit the wall. First it was a movie based on a Marvel Comics character that was coming out in February. After the weak adaptations of "Daredevil" and "Elektra" which both released during the second month of the year, last weeks release date for "Ghost Rider" did not bode well. Its outcome looked especially bleak considering that all three movies have been executed by writer and director Mark Steven Johnson whose track record with adapting Marvel comics into movies has missed its mark the previous two times.
The difference between the "Daredevil", "Elektra" movies and "Ghost Rider", is that with "Ghost Rider" the expectation is already set pretty low. Whereas "Daredevil" and "Elektra" had to live up to the legacy given them as two of Frank Miller’s best storylines, "Ghost Rider" never quite had the same kind of literary comics’ panache as the other two, and so a trashy movie adaptation somehow seems okay.
The "Ghost Rider" is a B-List character from the Marvel Universe that strikes a nerve with its target audience including me when I was in Junior High. The character is a biker with a flaming skull, riding a tricked out chopper that spews forth brimstone at every turn. "Ghost Rider" certainly has been a favorite subject matter of plenty of projects in art and shop class. And in this way, the "Ghost Rider" movie for the most part delivers on the kind of fun that goes well with the thirteen year old mindset.
Capturing this adolescent fantasy must have been what was going through actors like Nicholas Cage’s mind when he signed on as the lead role, Johnny Blaze. His portrayal of the angst ridden stunt rider by day has enough quirky camp to make his performance interesting even when the dialog itself plays flat on the screen. The "Ghost Rider" movie nicely ties the relationship to the original "Ghost Rider" character that spawned forth during the western era and Sam Elliot’s deep voice resonates despite the clichés his Caretaker character speaks. And although he never steps onto a bike himself, the original Easy Rider, Peter Fonda humorously plays the devil the "Ghost Rider" must serve.
In the end, "Ghost Rider" plays out as a well funded and flawed B-Movie, complete with over the top performances that cannot save the awkward screenplay. The special effects budget is well spent although the computer generated rider seems mal proportioned and moves stiffly when he’s not on his incredibly rendered demonic motorcycle. The story line plods along, but when the "Ghost Rider" starts burning up the streets of the unnamed US city that was actually shot in Australia, as I would have said in my junior high shop class, "Ghost Rider" comes through with some wicked good times.
Wondering how many school art projects this movie will inspire, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2007 - Purple - Air Date: 2/21/07
USA - 2007