Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Reviewed by: Ismael Manzano
The success of such comic adaptations as X-Men, Spiderman, Sin City, and The Fantastic Four has, in recent years, prompted a string of comic book adaptations from lesser known or otherwise less popular comic series. For some of you, Ghost Rider may be a mainstream staple, but for me it is one of those lesser known comics. Surely its opening date wasn’t awaited by droves of eager fans with bated breath as were some of the above-mentioned titles, but I was drawn in by the preview and decided to give it a shot.
Ghost Rider, the movie, follows the adventures of Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage, Con Air, Face Off), the son of a stunt motorcyclist. Johnny follows in his father’s footsteps and works with him one many of his jumps. When he discovers that his father is dying of cancer, a stranger comes along and makes a deal to cure his father for the small fee of his soul. Johnny hesitantly agreed and the next day his father was cured of his cancer, but ironically died on his next jump. The devil (Peter Fonda) returns and tells Johnny that he now owns his soul and will one day call upon him.
Flash forward twenty or so years and Johnny Blaze is a big headliner stunt motorcyclist, bigger than his father ever could have been, but knowledge of his curse has forced him to live a lonely life. Two things happen that push the story forward. One is his reintroduction of his former childhood love, Roxy (Eva Mendez, Training Day, Hitch), who is now a television reporter. The other is a hellish revolt in which the sons of the devil—who collectively look like the demonic version of Earth, Wind and Fire—search for a lost contract of a thousand souls that is said to be so powerful that if it fell into the hands of evil it would bring about hell on earth.
Now the devil calls upon Johnny to track down these demons and stop the revolt. But with his old love returned, four demons on his trail, a host of new and frightening powers to try to rein under control, and the police trying to pin a series of murder on him, can the Ghost Rider find a way to stop these demons, keep his friends safe and keep the power of hell on earth out of evil hands?
Let’s just go straight to the cons with this one. One, the acting was short of top-shelf, with Nicholas Cage doing his usual Nicholas Cage bit, only toned down enough that it was uninteresting, and Eva Mendez’s portrayal of Roxy reminiscent of a preteen cheerleader at times than of an adult new reporter. Two, Johnny Blaze has this insistent habit of pointing at people, something for which I can only attribute to either a comic book nod that did not translate well to film or a Nick Cage thing that just didn’t translate. Three, Ghost Rider’s powers. A deal with the devil made him a bounty hunter for the demons that escape from hell and the devil gave him a power called the “Penitent Stare,” which basically means that he can burn the souls of the wicked—BURN THE SOULS OF THE WICKED! Not kill the evildoers so that their souls can go to hell and feed the devil’s machine—like was done brilliantly in Spawn—not corrupt the innocent or empower the wicked, but burn their souls, effectively making them useless to the devil—are you kidding me? And why the hell would the devil give his minion the ability to burn souls when his primary function is to hunt escaped demons that—the movie attested—have no souls. Good job guys.
Now for the pros…Uh…Hmmm….the bike was pretty cool…Oh, and Eva Mendez in a low cut blouse pointing a sawed-off shottie was almost worth the ticket price.
My recommendation, if you’re not a huge Ghost Rider fan, one of those people that are dumbfounded by bright colors, very good at making wisecracks at the screen, or are writing a review for an e-zine, please stay away from this movie. It really has little to offer. As for me, luckily, I am dumbfounded by bright colors so it wasn’t a total loss.