Ghost Rider Review
By Joe Lozito
At this point it's passé to mention the trajectory of Nicholas Cage's once-promising career. Though he's good for the occasional gem ("World Trade Center"
), more often than not he postures and mugs his way through roles destined for the discount bin ("The Wicker Man", "Con Air", "National Treasure"). I don't have anything against an actor taking a paycheck-role, I'm just getting a little tired of it from Mr. Cage. "Ghost Rider" - another uninspired superhero adaptation from the bottom of the Marvel Comics barrel - features Mr. Cage in full Elvis-mode playing a brooding motorcycle daredevil who becomes a brooding, flaming-skull-headed avenger.
The rote origin story finds young Johnny Blaze set to follow in the footsteps of his cigarette-smoking, Evil Knievel-esque father. No sooner does Johnny find out that Dad is dying of cancer than he is approached by a devilish, none-too-mysterious stranger played to the scenery-chewing hilt by Peter Fonda. Johnny (accidentally, I think) agrees to sell his soul for his father's life and, as is always the case in these situations, it's only a matter of time before ol' Mephistopheles comes to collect. Once he does, Johnny (now played by Mr. Cage, looking a bit too old for these roles) develops the power to painfully transform into the titular character - sort of like Skeletor from the "He-Man" series, but on fire and riding a motorcycle.
"Ghost Rider" easily joins the ranks of "The Punisher", "Daredevil"
and "Elektra" in the annals of throw-away superhero movies made for a quick buck. And while "Rider" has a bit of the darkness that made "Spawn" and "Constantine" mildly interesting, the Johnny Blaze character is simply not very compelling, and the love story with Eva Mendes' thoroughly unconvincing reporter can hardly sustain their scenes together let alone provide any depth or resonance to the story. Only Sam Elliot, as a mysterious gravedigger adds some welcome cheese to the proceedings, but his scenes are few and far between. I just hope the filmmakers who are adapting "The Preacher" series have noted that Mr. Elliot is perfect
to play the Saint of Killers role. Now there's an adaptation I'd like to see.