Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ghost Rider Review

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Make no mistake, “Ghost Rider” is a bad movie, but the comic book fans who are using the internet to complain about it need to shut up. As a former comic book fan myself, I can honestly say that it's not like anyone's childhood has been raped or pissed on here. Seriously, anyone who actually enjoyed reading comic books didn't like Ghost Rider anyway.

When writer-director Mark Stephen Johnson decided to make a film based on Ghost Rider, he had to have known what he was signing on for. Ghost Rider never had any definitive stories; he’s not a compelling character. The ‘superhero’, and I use that term lightly, was nothing more than an angry flaming skull dude with shoulder spikes, a swinging chain, and a badass motorcycle. The only people who dug him were those glue-huffing punks in my high school algebra classes. Those Beavis and Butthead types loved Ghost Rider because he represented their wet-dream: a fiery half-demon who belonged in the world of heavy metal album covers. And you know what, when Johnson created this film, I have the feeling maybe he created it just for them. Johnson’s Ghost Rider is a raging bad-ass, who has leathal death metal videos playing in his eye sockets 24-7, and his main bad guy is an Emo boy played by American Beauty’s Wes Bently. Sounds like every Slipnot fan I ever met.

If Ghost Rider had been a good film with clear character motivations and emotional gravity, it would have made for an inaccurate translation of the comic. None of that stuff was in the source material to begin with, so why would Johnson want to add it? Because he’s a filmmaker? Well, maybe, but then wouldn’t all the glue-huffing metal heads feel betrayed? After all, they stood by Ghost Rider when people who demanded silly things like 'good writing' and 'coherent panel sequencing' laughed at him behind their copies of "Watchmen" or "The Dark Knight Returns".

Johnston made a bad movie based on a bad comic book. No love loss here. What’s odd though is that the intro with star Nicolas Cage – before he turns into a butane-powered skull – seems like a screwball comedy a la "Anchorman" or "Taledega Nights". Busting out the same dialect he used to play Tiny Elvis on an episode of SNL, Cage’s alter-ego is a ridiculous stuntman who takes insane risks like jumping a motorcycle over six running black hawk helicopters. Also, instead of drinking beers, Cage’s character likes to binge on martini glasses filled with jelly beans. When he looks into the mirror, an evil-looking skull stares back at him, but neither Cage or his buddies hanging out with him seem to notice. As a matter of fact, the only things that seem to rile Cage’s friends are the facts that he writes in a diary, and reads ‘weird’ and ‘funny’ books like Christopher Marlowe’s “Faust”. Too bad that part of the movie was trapped in the body of an adaptation of a lousy comic book.

Perhaps if nothing else, “Ghost Rider” will serve as a reminder of how funny Cage used to be when he was in comedies like Raising Arizona. Perhaps he will make a move towards the genre once again before completely destroying his career with motr films like this. Comic book fans need to get their priorities straight; they have bigger fish to fry like films based on comic books that were actually enjoyable (i.e. 'Watchmen', 'FF2', etc.)


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10:17 PM  

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