We caught Ghost Rider at a matinée today despite the drubbing it’s taken from critics and I have to say that, while it has its flaws, I still walked away feeling like I enjoyed it. I suppose you could chalk it up to low expectations, but it’s hard to have high hopes for a movie based on what is really a silly concept to begin with and it turned out better than I expected it to. It probably helps that Nicholas Cage was in the starring role and he puts as much effort into this movie as any from his past though that’s not surprising considering he’s said for years that this was the comic book turned movie that he most wanted to be a part of.
For those not familiar with the background: Johnny Blaze sold his soul to devil to saved someone he cared about from death (his father in the movie, his mentor in the comic) and is turned into the Ghost Rider as a result. At night when in the presence of evil he turns into a flaming skeleton with an equally wicked supernatural motorcycle who collects the souls of the guilty for Mephisto (Mephistopheles in the movie). He eventually gains control over his power and goes about working against the demon that created him, blah blah blah. The original comic series ran from 1973 until 1983 and I can remember reading it in my youth, though I couldn’t tell you specifics of the stories as it’s been a long time since then. Apparently they did a second series from 1990 to 1998, but I never read those.
I’d imagine that if you’re a die hard Ghost Rider fan then you’ll have no problems picking apart all the changes they made in the movie, but given that I don’t recall most of the original storyline that kept that from being an issue for me. The biggest flaw the movie has is in trying to fit too much in at once and, as a result, the villains get short shrift. They consist of the son of Mephistopheles, a demon named Blackheart, and a trio of demons each based on an element of nature (earth, wind, water) that are out to track down a scroll that contains the names of a couple hundred of the worst of the worst sinners so they can use the extra evil to be… even more evil than they already are I suppose… and destroy the world. The three elementals are dispatched pretty quickly all things considered and Blackheart himself is only a challenge until he’s actually consumed the extra-evil souls at the end of the movie. The bad guys could’ve used a bit of beefing up in that regard.
There’s plot holes aplenty and the CGI is pretty obviously CGI, but somehow I managed to get caught up in it all and enjoyed myself despite the fact that when I stop to think about it I realize it’s probably a pretty bad movie overall. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, but it beat the hell out of Daredevil and The Fantastic Four in my book and they’re making a sequel to the latter film.