Thursday, March 01, 2007

Movie Review: Ghost Rider

Marvel Comics just seems to be a huge wealth of movie material. The latest release "Ghost Rider" explores the darker side of the comics company. There have been "dark" comics made into film in the past (Spawn, V for Vendetta) but none by Marvel. Now they have broken that mold.

Ghost Rider, does not have the huge fanbase like Spider-Man and X-men but the cult following was enough to make a movie. The nice thing is that with all the comics out there Hollywood can try any of them out and see what hits or misses regardless of the success of the comic. The movies have a different following.

Ghost Rider is one of the few comics from Marvel that make it hard to tell if he is a hero or not. Most comic book heroes don't kill their enemies but allow for the authorities to lock them up. This was all from a time when the Comic Book Authority had to place their stamp of approval before comics could be printed. Marvel comics was one of the first to break out of the stamp of approval and start publishing comics "their way."

Leaving behind the characters of the Ghost Rider created in comics (there was more than one incarnation of the Ghost Rider), This movie takes the best known Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze and builds a movie based on the Johnny Blaze version. Johnny Blaze, played by Nicolas Cage, is a motorcycle stuntman in a carnival doing shows with his father. Johnny is also in love with a local girl, named Roxanne, whose parents don't like her to be with the motorcyclist. So the parents decide to move and take the girl with her. Roxanne tells Johnny this and they plan on running off together. After all, Johnny's dad constantly disapproves of Johnny's actions. The night before they are to run off Johnny finds out his dad is dying of cancer. That night while working on the bikes Johnny is visited by a stranger that promises to heal his dad if he signs a contract. Well, that stranger is Mephistopholes (Peter Fonda) and we all know where those contracts lead. Mephistopholes needs Johnny to be the Ghost Rider, the spirit of vengeance that collects the souls from those who have signed contracts before. Out of love for his father Johnny looks over the contract, and in a round about way signs in blood.

The next day after a scheduled visit with his doctor Johnny's father is miraculously healed of all cancer. But as with all dealings with the dark one, he dies in a motorcycle stunt that afternoon. Johnny then runs off to avoid life, including Roxanne.

Many years later we find Johnny Blaze a world renowned stunt cyclist doing motorcycle jumps Evel Knievel could only dream of. After jumping an entire Football field filled with helicopters with rotating blades. Mephistopholes comes to Johnny to put him to work, hunting down Blackheart (Wes Bentley), his son. Blackheart has decided to make hell on Earth by retrieving a contract in which a Ghost Rider from the 1800's has hidden because all the souls would make Mephistopholes too powerful.

Johnny is befriended by an intriguing cemetery caretaker (Sam Elliott), who seems to know a lot about the Ghost Rider, and helps Johnny defeat both Mephistopholes and Blackheart.

If you're looking for supernatural motorcycle chase scenes this movie is for you. Nicolas Cage as the Ghost Rider is playing the part he was meant to play. His acting brings the life of the Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze to be believable characters in a setting that should not be believeable. Although this movie is best seen on the big screen I am definitely adding this my DVD collection when it comes out.

A couple of extra notes to notice and keep in the back of your mind are:
1. Nicolas Cage had to have his Ghost Rider tattoo covered by make up for the film (he was a fan before he was cast).
2. The chopper Johnny blaze rides is a copy of the Captain America chopper Peter Fonda rode in the movie Easy Rider.
3. The images of the Ghost Rider skull are actually formed from x-rays of Nicolas Cage's Skull.

I will warn you the little kids may be afraid of some of the scenes in this one.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:55 PM Comments: 0