A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 120 – Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider – June 28th, 2010

I’m going to say this right up front so there’s no doubt as to why I enjoy this movie: Wes Bentley and his demon gang. That’s it. Okay, that’s not it completely, but it’s a good chunk of it. I’m a complete sucker for Bentley and guys who look like him (good cheekbones, dark hair, pale skin, blue eyes), and the whole elemental demon thing is always a direction I enjoy. Motorcycles are fun, as is fire. I mean, this should be a fun movie. It’s just lacking something. The things I love about it aren’t what should be the heart of the movie.

We begin the movie with carnival stunt rider Johnny Blaze making a deal with the devil to cure his father’s cancer, selling his soul in return for some clear x-rays only for his father to “mysteriously” die in an accident during a routine motorcycle stunt the next morning. Dang. That’s harsh, dude. But really, if you’re going to deal with the devil, you’ve got to go all Dethklock on him and make sure that contract is air tight. Anyhow, the devil totally kicks Johnny while he’s down, tells him it’s not worth trying to have a life or anything cause the devil owns him, and Johnny takes off out of town, leaving his sweetheart, Roxanne, behind. Again. Harsh.

Fast forward a ways and Johnny Blaze is now Nic Cage and a huge stunt star whose best friend and roadie is played by Donal Logue. He travels around, doing big motorcycle stunts and not dying cause the devil won’t let him, not making any attachments and being thoroughly miserable. And while he’s trying desperately to rekindle a romance with the girl he left behind when he was seventeen, the devil’s son has decided to put daddy out of business and gotten a little gang together to get a hold of a contract for a whole town’s worth of souls. Daddy calls in Johnny and thus we have our Ghost Rider, a motorcycle stunt man who really just wants a date with his old flame (get it? flame? right? GET IT?!) and the bulk of the movie involves a combination of Johnny trying to get out of the contract he made with the devil by trying to defeat devil jr. and his goons, and win over Roxanne while sporting a flaming skull head and wielding a chain whip and tasked with the job of judging the guilty and keeping Blackheart (devil jr.) at bay.

Maybe the problem lies with Nic Cage as an action hero. I like him okay in some roles, but he’s so laid back most of the time, it’s a weird role to see him in. I know he specifically wanted to play this role and I’m sure he enjoyed it, but I can’t really tell if it works. Maybe it’s that Wes Bentley steals the show for me. Maybe it’s that Wes Bentley’s coat steals the show even more. Maybe it’s that I really wanted to hear Henry Rollins’ Ghostrider on the soundtrack and it’s painfully conspicuous in its absence (to me, anyhow). Sure, there are things I like. I mean, it’s pretty cool that he learns how to deal with the whole bursting-into-flames thing by some Action Research! Actually, there are two action research scenes, and that’s pretty awesome. I do enjoy the climax and its lead-up, with the two Ghost Riders riding off into the desert, one on a horse and one on a motorcycle.

The more I think on it, the more I think it’s that the movie doesn’t do a good enough job setting itself up. Sure, it tells a good backstory for Johnny Blaze, but setting up Johnny is only half the plot. The entire thing with Blackheart and the devil and the contract they’re fighting for? And the intro and the last lines about legends of the West? It only barely touches on all of that. I get what it was going for. The closest it gets to linking everything is the scene I mentioned above with the two Riders. It’s a fantastic scene, even if not much happens in it. And the climax itself, taking place in the town whose inhabitants sold their souls, links it all. But up until then? It’s Johnny on his motorcycle in a big city. It’s the demons being demony in train yards and big cathedrals. It’s Johnny and Roxanne as a modern couple. There’s just so little set-up for the whole legend thing. It’s a big city superhero movie that wants to be a Western and it doesn’t manage it until the very end.

June 28, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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