Hi there and welcome to the first installment of Fanboy Action Theater! In the months to come, we’ll examine superhero movies young and old, great and not-so-great. Be warned though, spoilers may abound. Read on at your own risk! For our first movie review, we’ll check out Ghost Rider, the latest movie to feature a Marvel character.
The plot is rather straightforward, which all comic book movies should adhere to. We start off by learning that the Devil (Mephistopheles, played by Peter Fonda) empowers a damned soul to become his bounty hunter, the Ghost Rider. The Devil sends the cowboy Ghost Rider to collect a contract that contains a thousand souls. The cowboy Ghost Rider, after retrieving the contract, realizes that the contract would give the Devil too much power and so he outruns the Devil himself and disappears. Flash forward to the late 1970s or early 80s. Johnny Blaze (played by Nicholas Cage) grows up as a motorcycle daredevil following in his father’s footsteps. As a teen, Johnny makes a deal with Mephistopheles to cure his father of cancer. The Devil does so, but betrays Johnny by having his father die during a dangerous stunt then informs Johnny that his soul is now damned. Heartbroken, Johnny leaves behind his girlfriend, Roxanne (played by Eva Menes). Flash forward again to the present day. Johnny Blaze is now a world-famous daredevil whose every stunt is more dangerous than the last. At one show, Johnny runs into Roxanne, who is now a reporter. Johnny decides to reconnect with her and maybe leave his demons behind. However………..
Mephistopheles’ son, Black heart, comes to Earth to find the missing contract and claim his father’s position. Traveling with him are three other demons who hope to share in Black heart’s future power. Mephistopheles then reappears to Johnny and tells him that he’ll free his soul if Johnny can stop Black heart and recover the contract. Mephistopheles then forces Johnny to transform into the Ghost Rider to begin his hunt. The remainder of the film follows Johnny’s battles with Black heart and his crew. Along the way, Johnny comes across and is helped by the Caretaker (played by Sam Elliot), a cemetery caretaker who is actually the cowboy Ghost Rider. The ending leaves room for a sequel which is now currently being planned.
Ghost Rider is a pretty good movie. It starts off a little slow, taking about 30 minutes until the pace begins to pick up. As in all superhero movies, the special effects can make or break the movie. Happily, the effects in Ghost Rider are really good, especially Ghost Rider himself and his bike after they both transform. The scenes where a fiery Ghost Rider rides his motorcycle throughout the city are impressive, especially the scene where he drives straight up a skyscraper. The first time that Johnny Blaze transforms into Ghost Rider is pretty awesome, with his skeletal noggin all aflame. My favorite transformation was when Blaze transformed in a holding cell and, as Ghost Rider, burned his way out of the police station. The three or four fight scenes are well done and there’s enough action to make the average fanboy happy (unlike the Hulk! Curse you ‘Angst’ Lee!). Blackheart and his cronies are popcorn villains, but are decently done. I just wish that they were more sinister and less ‘pretty boy’.
The cast, overall, do a fine job. Nicholas Cage is great as always, playing Blaze with a big dose of being worn out and lonely. Eva Mendes primarily serves as eye-candy, and she does her job adequately. I think her cleavage should have gotten billing as well in the cast list. 🙂 Peter Fonda does a good job as Mephistopheles. Donal Logue (playing Blaze’s best friend, Mack) is superb. However, the man who steals every scene he’s in is Sam Elliot. That man oozes cool like nobody else (see his performance in We Were Soldiers). He was the perfect choice to play the cowboy Ghost Rider. The absolute best scene in the movie is when the two Ghost Riders (the modern day one on his motorcycle and the western one riding his blazing, skeletal horse) are riding cross-country to face Blackheart. As they ride across the desert, Ghost Riders in the Sky is playing in the background. That scene alone is worth the price of admission, but not the cost of my six dollar nachos and four-fifty giant coke.
Overall, Ghost Rider delivers what every comic-book movie should: action, decent plot, good effects, and more action! Check it out when you get a chance. My grade for Ghost Rider…….B+.
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