Looking back at the first Ghost Rider movie
Since, this past friday marked the theatrical release of its sequel, I decided to rewatch the first movie. First, let’s state the good things. Johnny Blaze was not bad. The dialogue and acting, though not at all the best, was for the most part a good start. Then Nic Cage became Ghost Rider and the script took a dump.
His dialogue became so cheesy and unbelievable that it was cringe worthy. With that being said I still enjoyed it for a popcorn flick, but one that I won’t watch again for a very very long time.
I grew up thinking that Ghost Rider was one of the best comic book characters out there. I loved his story and just saw it as a breath of fresh air. When I heard that they were making a movie and it was staring a supposed comic book loving actor, I thought they could do no wrong. Boy was I mistaken.
Aside from the crappy dialogue, the villains in it looked nothing like their comic book versions. I also did not like the fact that the tires of the motorcycle were melting the ground wherever he drove. Now let’s get on to the characters.
Johnny Blaze – In the comics he had long blonde hair. Nic cage has short receding dark hair. Okay, I can get over that, but the look was already off. Cage’s acting could have been worse, but for the first half of the movie I felt that he did Johnny Blaze justice in portraying the kind of stunt bike guy he is. I especially enjoyed the end when he used a shotgun to defeat the main villain. Blaze in the comics had been known to carry a shotgun that fired hellfire.
Roxanne Simpson – Eva Mendes is gorgeous. She was one of the good things about the movie, but I feel that they just made her out to be so dumb. She is a reporter and she puts up with Johnny Blaze’s crap because she just doesn’t get it. Her dialogue was again, poorly written, but not painful on delivery.
Ghost Rider – The look was good, excellent in fact, and the motorcycle was fantastic. His voice and CGI were off a little and made him look fake in certain scenes. I hang my head low in shame even now as I type this. I will say that the horrible spikes growing from his shoulders and the way the chain was aqcuired was odd, but this is redeemed by the effects of his “Penance Stare”. The way it was done in the movie could not have been displayed any better.
Mephistopheles – Peter Fonda’s acting was as painful as Cage’s. He had these occasional “mmmm” sounds he would do that made me wonder if he was passing gas. In the comics, Mephisto was evil looking. He looked like Satan with red skin and angular hair. If they would have made Fonda’s skin red in color, I’d have been satisfied, but like Johnny Blaze’s hair, I can get past this. I did not like however that when the lightning flashed, it showed his “demon form” briefly. I didn’t feel that was needed at least with Mephisto. He did have however the best character development in the movie for what it was. He still felt evil as well.
The Hidden (Wallow, Gressil, and Abigor) – This group of demons was not something I was familiar with as they were created for the movie. They were perhaps my favorite part of the film. The water, earth and air demons looked badass and were exactly what they were meant to be… supporting roles. Their effects looked good, but I feel as though they were defeated way too easily. It was as if there was no climax with them.
Blackheart – I am mad at this one. Blackheart is the son of Mephisto, and while they did not mention that in the movie, they didn’t need to. He was a rogue general of hell’s army just rebelling against his father. My problem here is that they got some goth looking guy to play the part. Blackheart was a black demon that had long porcupine like spikes coming from his head and body. Even at the end when I expected him to let go of his human form and become what I so wanted to see on the screen, it never happened. The way he was defeated felt too forced as well.
Carter Slade – Sam Elliot is a good actor, though he didn’t have much to work with here. I don’t even know what to call him. They combined two comic book characters into one. Because of this, I will analyze him in that way. First up is the Caretaker. He looked just like the comic counter part with the cowboy appearance and shovel. He also had the same mentor type roll and guardian of the cemetary mission that I knew him for. This Caretaker side of him was dead on all around. Next is Phantom Rider. He was never called this in the movie, but the name Carter Slade in the comics was the alter ego of Phantom Rider, who was the original old west ghost rider. I liked the fact that he was in the movie, but he wasn’t needed like this. The caretaker could have been left the way he was without changing him. In the comics he was more of a ghost looking rider than a flaming skull ghost rider.
To summarize my review I’ll put it this way. I accepted the many flaws this movie had. If I was someone who had no idea what the comic book was like, I think I would have enjoyed it except for the delivery of bad dialogue and anticlimax. As a fan of Ghost Rider in the comics, I am severely disappointed. It did have its moments though that made me satisfied for a brief time. I plan on seeing the sequel this week and will do a review on that as well. In the meantime I give the first Ghost Rider movie a 4 out of 10.