Ghost Rider

FEBRUARY 24, 2007


Today I sat down on the couch, prepared to watch April Fool’s Day, but then I saw a TV spot for Ghost Rider that reminded me that the film was rated PG-13 for ‘horror violence’ and disturbing images. I’m at a loss as to how violence can be classified as horror or action or whatever (I'm pretty sure there’s one for every movie genre, except for musical, and I hope Darren Bousman’s Repo! remedies that). So while I would never consider it horror myself, I am not a faceless and basically ridiculous corporation with no apparent standards or precedent, so who am I to argue? It had a chance of being better than watching a bunch of people not really die (I’ll do that on Monday I guess).

I’ve never read the comic religiously; I read a few issues in the 90s but mainly for crossover purposes. And that was the Danny Ketch character anyway. The film goes with the story of the original GR: Johnny Blaze. I must note though, I was happy to see some of Clayton Crain’s art in the opening Marvel logo, as he is one of my favorite modern comic artists and as of this writing, he is doing the art for a new GR miniseries called Trail of Tears or something to that effect, if anyone is interested.

Look, it doesn’t matter. What matters is this. This is a thoroughly stupid film, but luckily, Cage is either aware of it too, or he’s just gone batshit insane. Either way, he kept (most of) the audience from walking out with his off the wall antics when he’s not replaced with CG. He eats red and yellow jelly beans out of a martini glass. He listens to the Carpenters (specifically, Superstar, a song which to me will always be known as ‘the original version of that creepy ass Sonic Youth song they used in the High Tension trailer’) and gets angry if anyone tries to talk to him while it’s on. He is obsessed with the type of TV shows they watch in Idiocracy. He laughs maniacally when people hit him. And so on. It’s pretty much the single greatest performance I have seen since Billy Drago in Imprint (it may not surprise you to learn that I am no fan of subtlety).

I’m not sure who was more awful: Eva Mendez, or Wes “Plastic Bags Are Beautiful” Bentley. I think I’ll call it for Mendez, since she causes a good chunk of the movie’s problems, playing a love interest that is obviously ten years younger (supposed to be same age), acting with as much conviction as anyone else from Urban Legend 2 could manage, I guess.

The movie has been in development for years and went through many scripts and writers, some of whom are given an executive producer credit for their trouble. And like Freddy vs Jason before it, one really has to wonder how fucking bad those other scripts had to be if THIS script was the one that finally got things moving. It’s not the worst Marvel movie (though a “wow, 4lre4dy?” sequel to th4t one w4s thre4tened in the tr4ilers) but it’s certainly disappointing.

Speaking of trailers, there was also one for Resident Evil 3, a film I otherwise wouldn’t be less interested in, but it was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who directed the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart, which is more terrifying than GR and (likely) RE3 put together. Anyone seen it? Bonnie Tyler’s running around some building that reminds me of the school in Slaughter High for some reason, some dudes with lights for eyes are yelling TURN AROUND BRIGHT EYES!, some Asian guy is throwing birds, some acrobatic fencers show up… it’s pretty much the best video ever. Also: Highlander.

Oh, and the MPAA promised “horror violence”? Uh… let’s see. Ghost Rider whips a guy made out wind and he disappears. Ghost Rider stares at a guy and he goes into a coma or something. Ghost Rider stares at another guy (who is made out of water) and he sort of dissipates. There’s like 12 action scenes in the film and none of them last more than two minutes. Ghost Rider either stares at or whips a guy (it’s not as homoerotic as it sounds, sadly) and that’s that. Then he turns back into Cage and eats red and yellow jelly beans.

Half-assed. That’s the best way to describe this movie. Other than Mendez and Bentley, nothing is totally awful, but nothing is very good either. It’s just sort of there, and you just sort of watch it, and then you go home and your jelly bean flavors are plentiful.

You know how some of these movies I have seen but since it’s been like 10 years or whatever I have forgotten most of what happens in them? Using that same criteria, tomorrow’s movie could very well be Ghost Rider.

What say you?

P.S. I kind of like (Johnson's previous film) Daredevil, for the record. I think the Affleck-hate gives the film a bum rap. It’s certainly better than Hulk, GR, F4, Punisher, or Man Thing.


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