Originally Posted to Blogger – Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday afternoon, Big T and I sat through a matinee of “Ghost Rider”, starring Nicholas Cage’s hair piece, Eva Mendes’ cleavage, Sam Elliot’s cowboy getup, Peter Fonda’s pomade and Wes Bentley’s over synthesized voice. Co-starring Bentley’s sideburns, and a handful of actors that had been out of work since “Highlander 3”.
I love comic books. I support comic book movies when I can. Make no mistake, I know that many of them aren’t good – and Ghost Rider certainly falls in that category. As expected. What I didn’t know going in was that “Rider” was written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the Alex Proyas-wannabe toolbox that directed the “Daredevil” movie with Affleck. Johnson’s not the worse director in Hollywood (Uwe Boll holds that particular title), but his misuse of the excellent Daredevil character should have ended his tenure with Marvel films. His take on Ghost Rider is the kind of heavy-handed cheese that gives comic books a bad name. If there was a text book called “Making a Scary Movie: Mining 60 years of pseudo-horror cliches and neo-modern, MTV editing techniques to create crappy cinema”, Johnson would own every edition, signed by the authors.
I didn’t expect art. And, truth be told, I walked out of the theater laughing, in a mostly pleasant way (though the “Ghost Riders on the Storm” techno-garbage over the end credits almost caused Travis’ head to burst into flames). The actors in this piece of hack work do their level best to have fun with their roles and make the most of a mediocre production. Nick Cage is capable of truly honest, heartfelt work (check out the quite good “Weather Man”). This is his chance to live a comic dork dream, and I respect that of him. Unfortunately, the script is so bad, the direction so over the top, the geeking out is lost to really putrid pastiche.
The age old question arises – how do movies like this get made? How does a studio exec look at a rough cut of this shlock and give a green light? It happens because they have a sudden insight into the future, at a 45 million dollar #1 opening weekend and a chance to cuddle up to Eva Mendes at the premiere party (or to Cage’s insanely cut abs – whatever your thing is).
You gotta give “Ghost Rider” this: the special effects are really nice – GR looks pretty badass. It’s funny, mostly intentionally (though certainly not always). Mendes is actually likable for once (I generally can’t stand her on screen). Watching GR give cops the finger as he rides away from them on his flaming cycle on a river (!) is worth a dollar of my ticket. Cage’s final speech to the main badguy at the end – pricelessly awful writing, directing and acting. It’s awesomely bad.
I think this will be a good movie to watch with a case of beer and the intent to MST3K the hell out of it. Then, perhaps after a viewing of “300”, we should rally the loincloth clad troops and descend upon Mark Steven Johnson and his support base at Marvel with our brand of merciless vengeance. Prepare to face the Penance Stare, Johnson. You have been prounounced guilty.