I was talking with a buddy of mine about guilty movie pleasures (or is it movie guilty pleasures?) the other day, and I completely forgot about Ghost Rider. It’s one of those movies that I saw when it first came out in ’07 (I love writing years like ’07 because it makes me feel as though I lived around the turn of the last century) in a regular theater, and, where it’s not one of my favorites, and I don’t really want to buy it, anytime it comes on the tube, I start watching it. Not the whole thing, just parts of it. So, all together I’ve probably seen it 2 and some fractional number times. And, that’s all I need. I have certain scenes that I get a kick out of, and then I’m good.
Rider is a genre-jumper. It’s an Elvis/supernatural-Western/superhero flick that’s not afraid to go Out There. In the superhero field, it’s not as full-out campy as Batman Numero Four-o with the Clooney/O’Donnell/Silverstone triad (really bad movie, but great for making fun of), nor is it whiny-serious like Superman Returns. I’m sorry, but Returns was a completely humorless film. It could suck the life out of a vampire.
Okay, I’m back on track now.
Rider isn’t a great film. It’s at times not even good. But, it is fun. A hoot. Especially fun is Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze. He’s got that whole leather/biker/Elvis thing down, along with a John Wayne swagger. I love one scene where he lassos a helicopter with his flaming chain and shouts “Yeehaa!” That’s great, it’s so over-the-top.
Like another, earlier supernatural-superhero movie, Spawn (1997), Johnny Blaze is all juiced up with Underworld Powers. He’s a wild-man motorcycle stunt rider who made a deal with Big D (Peter Fonda) to save his Dad (Brett Cullen). And, like most any deals of that sort, things don’t work out real well for Johnny, and he goes to work for Big D, sending renegade souls back to Hell. The effects are cheesy at times, good at others. Love the flaming skeleton that Blaze turns into, and the hot (literally) bike. But, at the same time, the Ghost Rider’s movements are a bit jerky and stilted. And, some of the fight sequences are a tad hokey.
Sam Elliott is great and gravelly as the Caretaker at the cemetery. He’s a tobacco-spittin’ mentor for Bonehead, as he affectionately calls Blaze. Nice double entendre there. As usual, Sam doesn’t have to move much, but he’s powerful in every scene.
Eva Mendes is okay as the love interest. Truthfully, she could be just about anyone. Not her fault, I don’t suppose, they just use her as filler.
My main complaint is the convolutions of the storyline. It’s all this “he sold his soul, so he’s gotta do this, but Big D wants the contract of El Taco de Tico or some such thing, and they’re gonna do that, and Blaze is gonna do this” jazz that gets in the way. Why can’t we just have a simple story?
All-in-all, it’s a fun ride. Probably won’t win any awards, but it is entertaining. And, you get to hear an amped-up version of Ghost Riders in the Sky.
’til next time… Adios.