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"Ghost Rider"

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson.
Written by Mark Steven Johnson.  Based on the Marvel comic books.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley and Peter Fonda.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  2/16/07

Folks--

I was thinking tonight, as I walked out of a matinee screening of "Ghost Rider", the song "Ghost Rider" by Henry Rollins that was released as part of the soundtrack for one of my favorite action/horror movies, "The Crow"...

"Ghost Rider...motorcycle...HEEErooooo..."

Great song.  Angry, passionate, has lots of random yelling ("He's riding around...with his head...on FIREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"), classic Rollins stuff.  At least, the Rollins stuff that I've heard.  Sure, it has nothing to do with "The Crow", except that it is also based on a comic book, but that didn't matter to me--the song rocked.

The movie version of "Ghost Rider"?  Not so much, not so much.

When I first saw the trailer for "Ghost Rider" last summer, I remember thinking this exact thought:  "Man, that looks a ton like 'Daredevil!'"  So, imagine my horror when I learned today that the same guy who wrote and directed "Daredevil" got to do "Ghost Rider"!!!  This time, we get Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a man with a dark secret: as a 17-year-old, in order to save the life of his father, he gave his soul to The Devil (Peter Fonda) and agreed to take on the role of the Ghost Rider--Devil's bounty hunter--whenever the Devil needed assistance.  As the Ghost Rider, life is a little tricky--you can't really keep any friendships, and at night, your skin melts to the bone and your head catches fire.  Fast forward about 20 years, and Johnny is still racing motorcycles and doing big-event stuntwork for the highest bidder.  The girl he loved as a young man, Roxy (Eva Mendes), is now a news correspondent and one day she shows up to cover one of Johnny's events...sparks fly again, blah blah blah, just as The Devil shows up to make Johnny deliver on his contract: The Devil needs the Rider to take down one of his sons, Blackheart (Wes Bentley, who I respected before he made this film), who is after a whole bunch of dead souls to become the most powerful man in the universe or some such nonsense.  Using just his burning skull and a wicked chain, The Rider goes after Blackheart and his merry men.

Like "Daredevil", "Ghost Rider" fucking blows.  You know from the jump that the movie is going to suck because this script is utterly atrocious.  I found myself doing a lot of the take-off-glasses-and-wipe-hand-down-face-in-disgust move made popular by disgusted people everywhere; Nic Cage, in the hearts of his fans pre-Oscar-winning-role-in-"Leaving Las Vegas", has fallen so far that I don't even know what to do about him any more.  I will give him this--as bad as this script is, he occasionally gives the film a couple of much-needed laughs, not enough to save it of course, but just enough to keep you watching (especially if you just dropped $9.50 for this clunker).  Mendes, whose breasts literally get larger all the way to the film's horrific finale, actually looks as if she is trying to act badly all the way through this horseshit.  Fonda seems to be having fun, but what the fuck is Sam Elliott doing in this fucking thing?  He hams it up like nobody's business...wow, each way I look at "Ghost Rider", the acting is out of control awful.

Now, I will say this: the special effects of "Ghost Rider" are fairly well done.  Not holy-fucking-shit well done, just they-handled-that-Ghost-Rider-to-Johnny-Blaze-transition-nicely well done.  Certainly, the effects are not enough to save this thing from oblivion, but let's give credit where credit is due.  Otherwise, the only highlight from this film was the trailer for the upcoming Tarantino/Rodriguez horror/action/comedies "Planet Terror" & "Death Proof"; that one will be interesting!

Rating:  Hard Vice

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09