Saturday, February 11, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider is a 2007 movie that presents the origin story of the title character.
Ghost Rider starts out so well. The entire opening sequence with the young Johnny Blaze, his father, and Roxanne works. They cast fantastic younger look-alike versions of Nick Cage and Eva Mendes to play the teenage versions of Johnny and Roxanne. I liked how the deal-with-the-devil was worked out and the bitter irony of it.

When the movie transitions into modern day with a middle aged Blaze it initially holds my attention. The way the action unfolds with Blaze's jump over the helicopters is cool and his pursuit of Roxanne is also very cool. I  initially liked how quirky Blaze is - eating jelly beans, watching stupid TV, and living recklessly (but not WRECKlessly... haha). Over time, however, Blaze ends up just coming across as a social moron whose initially charming quirks turn into debilitating weirdness.

Ghost Rider looks awesome. They went for a complete CGI character and it was a good move. The initial transformation to Ghost RIder is fantastic and the change back to Blaze was similarly well done! I liked the Ghost Rider bike and how his appearance changes throughout the movie, adding a chain and spikes.

 It is when Blackheart and his cronies show up that the film goes down hill. First, Wes Bentley does an absolutely horrible job as Blackheart. Blackheart comes across as a spoiled child, not a serious demonic threat. The rest of the villians "The Hidden" are so forgettable I couldn't even tell you their names if I didn't look it up online (Abigor, Wallow, and Gressil in case you were wondering). In any event, Ghost Rider defeats each one in very easily about 20 seconds or so. Yawn. In the first fight I wondered why all four of them didn't just gang up on Ghost Rider. Instead, they attack him one a time like bosses in a video game - Beat level 1, level 2, level 3 - HEAD BOSS! If that doesn't sound that interesting, you're right.

The police storyline is an oddity. It goes nowhere. The police are tracking down evidence at the scene of each fight. They even detail Blaze, question him, and lock him up only to have him transform into Ghost Rider, break out, and get chased by the police. Then the police apparently completely forget they were interested in Blaze because you don't see or hear from them again for the rest of the movie. Weren't their video cameras in the prison to catch Blaze transforming into Ghost Rider? Didn't the police want to... you know, continue questioning Blaze for an unsolved murder case?

The movie is riddled with these little logical holes and oddities. Ghost Rider apparently doles out brain death to common muggers on the street. Roxanne apparently has no problem dating somebody who transforms into a demonic entity every night. Really? Cause I got to tell you - that'd be a deal breaker for most women. At the end of the movie, Caretaker (AKA Western Ghost Rider) rides 500 miles with Ghost Rider to the final showdown... and then doesn't fight. Instead, he transforms back into a human for the last time and apparently rides the 500 miles back home but instead on a normal horse this time. Huh? Why not have him fight a little and then get knocked out or killed or something? Weird.

I wanted to like this movie and it does some things right but ultimately misses the mark. Let's hope the sequel is better.

1LR Review - 10 out of 20 - It's a Miss!

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