Ghost Rider **
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Written by Mark Steven Johnson
Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
Eva Mendes as Roxanne
Donal Logue as Mack
Wes Bentley as Blackheart
Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles
Laurence Breuls as Gressil
Daniel Frederiksen as Wallow
Mathew Wilkinson as Abigor
Brett Cullen as Barton Blaze
Matt Long as Young Johnny Blaze
Raquel Alessi as Young Roxanne Simpson
Sam Elliott as Caretaker
111 Minutes(Rated PG-13 for horror violence and disturbing images).
There are two ways that a beginning superhero movie could go-the direction of "Spider-Man," or the direction of "Daredevil." There is also a third option-the direction of "X-Men," which managed to have a lame start, a brilliant middle, and a lackluster finale, but those are rare to come by. "Spider-Man" had a great series, almost amazing. There is so much anticipation in my head for the third "Spider-Man" movie, the art house crowd wouldn't believe it. And then there is the direction of "Daredevil," which made one awful film and than disappeared off the face of the Earth. "Fantastic Four" should have taken the second road, but sadly the people at Fox have decided to let us venture yet again into the lives of "Fantastic Four." I predict that "Ghost Rider" will go down the road of "Daredevil," and that this will be the first and last journey with Nic Cage into the life of Johnny Blaze.
"Ghost Rider" starts off with Young Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stuntman just like his father Barton. Johnny is in love with Roxanne, and the two of them plan to run away together the next day. However that night Johnny finds out that his father has cancer, and he is given the chance to ensure that his father lives if he sells his soul to a mysterious man that comes in randomly. Johnny sells his soul for his father's life, and while his father is cured of cancer he dies in a motorcycle accident the next day. Johnny learns that the man he sold his soul to will call him when needed, and until that day Johnny is protected by evil-he does amazing jumps on his bike and never even gets hurt. Now Johnny is in his thirties or so, and by chance he meets Roxanne again who is now a news reporter. He gets her to agree to go out with him, but that night he is summoned by a devil, who wants him to collect the demon Black Heart, because now he is the devil's bounty hunter. At night, in the presence of evil, he isn't Johnny Blaze anymore-he looses his look, becomes a face with a skull on fire, and rides a burning bike. He is Ghost Rider!
"Ghost Rider" has some decent effects, but it suffers from it's campiness. At times it is just a little too over the top, and laughable. There is one scene that sticks in my head to how incredibly stupid it was. When Roxanne is sitting in the restaurant, waiting for Johnny to come for their date, she takes out her cell phone to see the time, and then she takes out a Magic Eight Ball-it's a joke with her trying to see if the ball tells her that Johnny is the right man for her. It's a silly visual gag, and something that I would expect for "Epic Movie," or a parody of superhero films. "Ghost Rider" is a campy, B grade superhero flick-something with a much lower budget than "Spider-Man" or even "Hulk," and it shows. Nicolas Cage is not at his best here, and his amazing four of "Matchstick Men," "Adaptation," "Lord of War," and "The Weather Man" is clearly finished. Cage is a huge fan of "Ghost Rider," so it's obvious why he wanted the role, and it's easy to see that he is just having a job time. Other reasons why the "Ghost Rider series won't skyrocket are the lack of a diverse villians. Ghost Rider fights demon after demon, and doesn't offer an amazing selection of bad guys like Spider-Man and Batman can. And lastly, the relationship between Johnny Blaze and Roxanne is unbelievable, and the audience doesn't really care about it. In "Spider-Man," the Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson romance unfolds like a soap opera, but the one in "Ghost Rider" had no conflict. The only conflict was that Ghost Rider doesn't want a woman for the other demons to steal away with there is strife. Ghost Rider just isn't complex enough-this film knows that, and tried to make the viewer not see that with campy visuals and a script with more humor than nail biting. I doubt there will be a "Ghost Rider 2," and even though this does have some moments of entertainment and some decent action, it isn't anything to go out of your way to see. Cage needs to hire back whoever was his agent for three years and get out of this slump.