I purposely missed this movie when it opened in theaters. “Why?”, you ask. Well, there are several reasons. One, it’s directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the dude who gave us “Daredevil”. Yes, the Ben Affleck flick with an annoying Bullseye and a black Kingpin. Should I go on? Because I think that’s enough for you to understand where I’m going here. OK I’ll give you another: it’s too glossy. When I heard about the plans for a Ghost Rider movie, I hoped that it would be dark and gritty and R-18. The minute I found out that Johnson would be writing and directing it, I decided to pass on the theater release and just wait for the DVD, because I’m not watching this movie without watching some extras. And here we are.
The Story: I didn’t expect much in terms of the plot, but some of the lines dangerously come close to “Batman & Robin” sucktitude. I mean, come on! With great and “just OK” actors, they could have at least come up with more interesting dialogue and not just eye-roll-inducing puns. The only thing that attracted me was the mythology of the Ghost Rider and the concept of him being the Devil’s bounty hunter. The story within the story. After all, I am a comic book geek so I enjoy that kind of stuff. Other than that, it’s a formulaic Hollywood tale of redemption with bad puns and cookie cutter supporting characters.
The Eye Candy: This is why I bought the 2-Disc Extended Cut version instead of the regular one. First of all, you can’t go wrong with a dude with a skull for a head, wearing black leather with spikes and chains, and riding a flaming motorcycle. Ghost Rider has always been the most visually interesting character in comics for me. In addition, Eva Mendes make up for the annoying love story that chokes the life out of the movie. The centerpiece of all special effects in this film would have to be the scene where the two Ghost Riders are riding side by side. It’s just an awesome visual.
The Actors: I like Nicolas Cage as an actor, but I just don’t like his interpretation of Johnny Blaze. It’s just too goofy. Wes Bentley, the supposedly picky actor in terms of the roles he chooses, as Blackheart just doesn’t do it for me. Peter Fonda, the badass actor who smoked marijuana on-camera in Easy Rider, delivers an awesome performance, but the way his character is written, that ain’t saying much. Eva Mendes is nothing more than eye candy for me. The real star of this movie is Sam Elliott, who plays Caretaker. What little character and emotional drama this movie has, it’s always in the Sam Elliott scenes.
The DVD Extras: I could have done without the making-of features, but the main hook of the 2nd disc for me is the 40-year history of the Ghost Rider comic feature. I just love watching comic book creators discussing how they created characters and storylines. Other than that, the 2nd disc is just about the creative process behind the special effects, and the actors patting each other on the back.
There are movies that you watch because they inspire you and stimulate your mind. Then there are movies that you watch simply because of the awesome visuals. “Ghost Rider”, unfortunately, belongs to the latter. But hey, as far as awesome visuals go, a dude with a flaming skull for a head is one of the best.