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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Ghost Rider

Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a stunt performer who sells his soul to the devil to save his dying father in Ghost Rider. The film is based on the popular Marvel comic book series, in which Blaze transforms into a speed demon and leaves a path of destruction in his wake.  Photo courtesy Sony Pictures
Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a stunt performer who sells his soul to the devil to save his dying father in Ghost Rider. The film is based on the popular Marvel comic book series, in which Blaze transforms into a speed demon and leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures

By Devin Rodgers/reporter

Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a stunt performer who sells his soul to the devil to save his dying father in Ghost Rider. The film is based on the popular Marvel comic book series, in which Blaze transforms into a speed demon and leaves a path of destruction in his wake.  Photo courtesy Sony Pictures
Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a stunt performer who sells his soul to the devil to save his dying father in Ghost Rider. The film is based on the popular Marvel comic book series, in which Blaze transforms into a speed demon and leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures

It’s official!

Mark Steven Johnson is the new Joel Schumacher.

It took Schumacher two movies to bring the Batman franchise to its knees.

With only two movies, Johnson has already buried two comic book franchises with 2003’s Daredevil and this year’s Ghost Rider, which arrives in theaters dead-on-arrival—flat-lined—from its hokey beginning to its clichéd video-game ending.

Nicolas Cage stars as Johnny Blaze, a famous Evil Knievel-esque stunt performer who sells his soul to Mephistopheles (or Mephisto for short), played by Peter Fonda, in order to save his dying father, stricken with cancer.

In a moment of young, naive foolishness, he signs, with his own blood no less, a life contract to become the devil’s bounty hunter—damned to hunt down fallen angels cast out of heaven.

During the day, Johnny is normal, but at night, in the presence of evil, Johnny’s skin burns off and his skull lights aflame with hellfire.

His motorcycle transforms into a speed demon, able to travel fast enough to melt parking meters, climb up the side of sky scrapers and, in its wake, leave behind a fiery trail of destruction.

The idea sounds, kind of, well cool, actually.

Unfortunately, the studio, in an attempt to cash in on the Marvel product, limited the film to a PG-13 rating to reel in a wider audience, 10- and 12-year-old boys, which was a terrible, terrible move for most fans.

Instead of a fun and wildly entertaining ride, what we get is one of the worst comic book adaptations to crash land in theaters since Batman & Robin and Catwoman. 

Yes, Ghost Rider really is THAT bad.

Instead of cranking out another soft, wimpy flick about demons, hell and tortured souls straight from the formulaic, cardboard factory of clichés, what we should have gotten was a fun, dark, R-rated blast more along the lines of Blade or The Crow.

Heck, even Spawn had more bite and attitude.

It seems as though Johnson isn’t even passionate or interested in telling his own story, and it shows.

The heavily forced and completely uninteresting romance between Johnny Blaze and his long-time love, Roxanne Simpson (played by Eva Mendes), has not a spark of chemistry.

Mendes is given little to do and does little more than stand around and look pretty as the “damsel in distress,” whose only real talent is having an impressive bust-line.

Nicolas Cage, an expressed fan of the Ghost Rider comics, is one of the film’s biggest flaws, completely miscast as the macho avenger.

Cage is a talented actor when working with the right material (see his performances in the underrated Bringing out the Dead and Matchstick Men).

At 43 (pretending to be 28), Cage and his James Stewart persona of acting just isn’t what this particular film calls for.

What the film needs is an actor with a hard edge and some grit.

This film needed someone with the kind of tough-guy presence—someone like a young Clint Eastwood.

Thomas Jane might have made a nice Ghost Rider, and I’m sure if someone like Robert Rodriguez had been working behind the camera, we would have gotten that fun, R-rated ride we should have had to begin with.

Ghost Rider tries to do many things and ends up succeeding at nothing. It tries to be humorous, but nothing is funny.

The scene in which Johnny tries to explain his night-time dark side to his girlfriend aims to be funny.

Unfortunately, all I could think about was the scene in Batman, when Michael Keaton compares his superhero gig as being just another job to Kim Basinger.

The movie also tries to be scary, but nothing comes close to being frightening.

And in the end, after all its constant failures, Ghost Rider amounts to little more than boredom.

Normally I don’t do it, but I was tempted to walk out.

Throughout the film Johnny Blaze talks about deserving a second chance in order to turn things around for the better. Cage is an actor who deserves a second chance, especially coming off last year’s “it’s so bad, it’s good” remake of The Wicker Man.

As for writer/director Mark Steven Johnson, he’s had his second chance.

This whole comic book movie thing—it just isn’t your game, kid.

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