Ghost Rider (DVD)


“Ghost Rider” has been anything but invisible from the production listings of the main Hollywood trades of late – in fact, its been blazing a trail there for about half a decade now.

Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Peter Fonda, Sam Elliot, Wes Bentley, Donal Logue, David Roberts

“Ghost Rider” has been anything but invisible from the production listings of the main Hollywood trades of late – in fact, its been blazing a trail there for about half a decade now.

Truth is, the feature film adaptation of Marvel’s ‘popular-in-that-Daredevil-sense’ comic has had more lives than an adventurous Devon Rex. Initially, it was set up to go with Stephen Norrington (“Blade”) at the helm with David Goyer’s dark and twisted screenplay providing the beats. The studio didn’t like that. Ya see, its harder for kids to find a video store that’ll laminate their fake I.D these days, so that incarnation of “Ghost Rider” was scrapped in favour of something more family-friendly… or at least, something you didn’t have to flash your credentials to a cashier to get a ticket to. In 2003, Mark Steven Johnson, warm off the so-so Marvel comic-book movie “Daredevil”, was hired to steer the film back on track. And here it is… four years later, and about six months past its original due date (not to mention, limited screenings for media in the weeks leading up to its release).

So the question remains, is the film as unwelcomingly funky as Nicolas Cage’s hair-plugs?

Well, lets just say there isn’t much meat on the Ghost Rider’s bones.

Not to say the film is awful, it isn’t; in fact it may even be better than some of the other recent Marvel comic movies like “Elektra” – the ill fated “Daredevil” spin-off starring Jennifer Garner – and “X-Men : The Last Stand” – the dreadful final instalment in the once celebrated franchise – but considering the money and talent involved, it should be a lot more than just passable.

Long ago, superstar motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) made a deal with the devil to protect the ones he loved most: his father and his childhood sweetheart, Roxanne (Eva Mendes). Now, the Devil (Peter Fonda) has come for his due. By day, Johnny is a die-hard stunt rider… but at night, in the presence of evil, he becomes the Ghost Rider, a bounty hunter of rogue demons (led by Wes Bentley). Forced to do the Devil’s bidding, Johnny is determined to confront his fate and use his curse and powers to defend the innocent.

Nicole Cage seems enthusiastic and into – and so he should, he’s a huge fan of the comic; and comics in general – playing the flaming hothead, Johnny Blaze, which is at least one thing, but everyone else in the pic seems to be either working with an underwritten character; is fresh from receiving the script in the mail or merely there to show off cleavage, like the film’s token love interest, Eva Mendes. I love Mendes (she was sweet as hell in “Hitch”), but in this, she’s just flat. Unlike her chest.

Sam Elliot has a nice-enough cameo as [appropriately] a mysterious graveyard-hanging’ cowboy, but the legendary Peter Fonda, and “American Beauty” star Wes Bentley near ruin the film with their dreadfully over-the-top performances. Yes, it’s a comic book movie, but you’ve also got to believe what’s going on on the screen, don’t you?. Anytime one of the supporting characters – usually the villains – appears on screen, you’re back in a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit in prep. If all a comic book role required was ham, then Adam West and Burt Ward would be bringing home the bacon.

Johnson fares OK as director, but he really needed to add some more fire to this ride. Its entertaining enough – in a campy, no-brainer way; and even then, probably because of the reasonably effective special effects – but there’s nothing much here to captivate you nor will you feel inclined to invest in any of the characters – something which other comic book movies, like “Batman Begins” or “Spider-Man”, have been able to do victoriously. All-in-all,; it’s just very underwhelming – with no big knockout moments to speak of, and no thrilling plot devices to reel you in.

Melbourne (standing in for Texas) was probably hoping the film would do it for it, what “The Matrix” did for Sydney, but it won’t. The city scrubs up well – they used such locations as the Telstra Dome; the Southbank bridge; and some inner city back streets – but unfortunately, anyone outside of Australia, probably won’t recognize it as anything other than the home of the Poncho. In that sense, I guess, Texas has to live with playing host to one of the weaker big-screen superheroes in recent times.

But no, it isn’t as bad as what you’ve been led to believe.

(Extras Unpreviewed)

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris