Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Ghost Rider

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for horror violence and disturbing images.
Profanity:Some brief strong language
Nudity/Sex:Kissing
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Action-style peril and violence, some graphic, many characters killed, disturbing images
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

“Ghost Rider” needs a new ghost writer.


Well, it needs something. You might not think that a movie based on a comic book about a flaming skeleton in a leather outfit who rides a (literally) hot motorcycle and has a (literally) penetrating stare would be dull, but this one is.


Johnny Blaze has a motorcycle carny act with his father, riding through fire. The night before Johnny is to run away with his true love, Roxanne, a stranger (Peter Fonda) appears, telling Johnny that he can cure his father’s lung cancer if Johnny is willing to trade his soul.


Johnny does not believe and does not exactly agree, but he spills his blood on the contract, and that is good enough for the stranger, who turns out to be none other than Mephistopheles. Meph, a master of the loophole, cures the cancer, but Johnny’s father dies anyway. And now he belongs to the devil, who tells him he’ll be back when he needs a rider.


Flash forward a couple of decades and Johnny (now Nicolas Cage) is a sort of Evil Kneivel with a bit of Tony Hawk, and a touch of rock star. He performs daredevil stunts in front of huge arenas, his latest a plan to jump the length of a football field. And who should show up to interview him for television but his old friend Roxanne (now Eva Mendes), last seen as he left her standing in the rain.


He persuades her to meet him for dinner, but before he can get there, another old friend shows up, that mysterious stranger again. It turns out that it is now time for Johnny to become “the devil’s bounty hunter” and chase down Blackheart (American Beauty’s Wes Bentley) before he can beat Meph to a missing list of promised souls.


It just doesn’t work. Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson showed with Elektra and Daredevil that he has no feel for comic book stories. The pacing is sluggish and the action scenes are static and repetitious. There are some nice special effects as GR uses a chain like a flaming lasso and Blackheart’s henchmen exert their power over air and water. But the movie violates its own rules so frequently that it removes any real sense of involvement or meaning. Blackheart and his thugs seem like weak attempts to recreate Kevin Smith’s clever street punk demons in Dogma. And as Blackheart himself, Bentley smolders less persuasively than he did as the drug-dealing, video-taking teenager in American Beauty. When the poor guy is called upon to make sarcastic clapping work in a key confrontation, it teeters on the brink of parody.

A hero with a skull face is a cool idea in a comic, but in a movie the inability to show any kind of expression makes it difficult for it to seem menacing or sympathetic, and it is impossible to take advantage of all Cage (a comic book fan whose very stage name is a tribute to another comic book character) can do. Since he can’t play a skull, he is limited to a few expressions of agonizing isolation, longing, and painful transformation. If Ghost Rider wanted to fetch something of value, he should have been out there looking for a better script.

Parents should know that this film has a number of disturbing images, including a flaming skull and other grotesque characters and graphic violence and injuries. Characters drink and smoke and use brief bad language. The issue of selling a soul to the devil and damnation may be upsetting to some audience members.


Families who see this movie should talk about some of the other stories about characters who sell their souls to the devil and what they think about Johnny’s decision at the end of the movie.

Fans of this movie will enjoy reading the graphic novels, starting with Essential Ghost Rider, Vol. 1.



Previous Posts

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Actors Of Color Discuss Racial Stereotypes In Hollywood
Film Courage produced this excellent and very compelling film with actors of color talking about the challenges they face in Hollywood. If we did a better job of representing diversity in film, we would not just tell better stories and tell stories better, we would make better progress toward under

posted 8:00:49am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Annie
The story of the plucky little Depression-era orphan with the curly red hair has been not just re-booted but re-imagined into the world of rent-a-bikes, viral videos, DNA tests, YOLO, corpora

posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Listen to People's Lives: David Plotz's Working Podcast
Former Slate editor David Plotz, now at Atlas Obscura, says that he is a big fan of Studs Terkel's classic book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He has paid tribute to that great work in the best possible way, by updating it with his podcast seri

posted 3:59:23pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.