Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider
This week's superhero and action adventure movie review takes a look back at the 2007 Ghost Rider film which was the first of two Ghost Rider movies starring Nicholas Cage which are not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity. There is nothing in either of these movies to contradict anything that has happened in the MCU, so technically, I guess, they could be part of your personal cannon if you want.
I originally saw Ghost Rider at a theater and remember somewhat liking the movie but eleven years later it doesn't hold up very well. The CGI is glaringly obvious and, at times, even looks animated but worse than that, the dialog given to Nicholas Cage is horrendously bad and Cage somehow manages to deliver it even worse. The villain of the movie is not particularly awe inspiring either so, in the end, this movie turns into somewhat of a forgettable piece of work.
The Ghost Rider character is visually stunning. Since his creation in the 1970s he has been a remarkably recognizable character but it must be exceedingly difficult to recreate that on film.
On paper, the plot sounds far more complicated that what it is.
The devil (in this movie called Mephistopheles which isn't really correct but just roll with it) sent his bounty hunter, the Ghost Rider, to retrieve a document known as the contract of San Venganza, a list of a thousand corrupt souls. However, seeing that the contract would give Mephistopheles unlimited power on Earth, Ghost Rider refuses to give him the contract and rides away. This scene is set in the American southwest of the 1800s.
In 1986, Mephistopheles contacts 17-year-old stunt motorcycle rider Johnny Blaze, offering to cure his father's cancer in exchange for Blaze's soul. Of course, if you know anything about popular culture then you also know that isn't going to work out for Johnny Blaze and, it doesn't, the elder Blaze doesn't die of cancer but is killed in a motorcycle stunt instead.
Over twenty years later, Johnny Blaze has become the world's most famous stunt rider. Blaze meets his lifelong sweetheart Roxanne Simpson, now a news reporter, whom he abandoned after his father's death just before his greatest jump. They awkwardly hit it off and the chemistry between Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes (who plays Roxanne) is non-existent.
Blackheart is the demonic son of Mephistopheles and a very underwhelming antagonist. He comes to Earth, along with three fallen angels to find the lost contract of San Venganza. In response, Mephistopheles makes Johnny Blaze the new Ghost Rider and offers to return his soul if he defeats Blackheart.
Ghost Rider's powers are really all over the place in this movie. He apparently has significant super strength. He may have some healing abilities but they are inconsistent at best but the penance stare (a power that allows the Ghost Rider to make any evil person experience all the pains they caused on their victims) is his most powerful weapon.
Johnny Blaze meets a man called the caretaker (Sam Elliott), who knows all about the history of the Ghost Rider. He tells him everything that happened was not a dream and that it will happen again, especially at night when he is near an evil soul. Obviously, the caretaker turns out to be the circa 1800s Ghost Rider.
Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze.
Ultimately, of course, the Ghost Rider's team up (sort of) to take down Blackheart. At no time did I ever feel Blackheart was that big of a threat. Mephistopheles offers to take the Ghost Rider curse away from Johnny Blaze but Blaze decides to keep the power and remain the Ghost Rider instead. All of this was delivered with the worst, most over the top melodramatic dialog you have ever heard in a movie.
The Ghost Rider design is stunning, make no mistake. Ghost Rider just looks amazing. Even with the overly wrought CGI in this movie the Ghost Rider still looks pretty cool and nowhere is that demonstrated better than the epic ride to San Venganza where we get to see the Sam Elliott Ghost Rider and demonic horse alongside Ghost Rider and his demon bike.
I'd be fine with an 1800s Ghost Rider movie myself.
This movie had potential. The character looked great, the story of the Ghost Rider is interesting, but it just didn't hold up with all of the terribly corny dialog and clunky acting by Cage. At times it was downright uncomfortable. At times it seemed like they were purposely trying to make a bad movie. It's too bad, this movie did have some fun moments.
Ghost Rider's history in Marvel Comics has been very spotty as well. He was a big hit in the 1970s combining two things that were riding a pop culture wave- Evel Kinevel and the occult. He even returned in the 1990s with a popular series. However, over the years there have been some very bad Ghost Rider comics as well. If anything, the brilliantly designed and provocative Ghost Rider has been, much like this movie, inconsistent.
In conclusion, this movie has it's moments but the dialog is among the worst you'll ever hear in a major motion picture.
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