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Ghost Rider
DVD disk
06.11.2007 By: Mathew Plale
Ghost Rider order
Director:
Mark Steven Johnson

Actors:
Nicolas Cage
Peter Fonda
Sam Elliott

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After signing a contract with the devil (Fonda) many years before, stuntman Johnny Blaze (Cage) is called upon to bring Satan's rebellious son, Blackheart (Bentley), back to Hell for a spanking from daddy.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Mark Steven Johnson has an unwelcome desire to adapt comic book heroes that are outside of the realm of general popularity for the big screen. Four years ago, he directed the dismal Daredevil, a story about a blind Ben Affleck saving New York City…or something. In the way that Daredevil made us pray for loss of sight, Ghost Rider kind of makes us wish our head were on fire.

Ghost Rider’s first half-hour is fun enough and even works on a level of camp. The effectiveness of the camp is lost, however, when the devil (Fonda) comes back with the IOU signed by Johnny Blaze (Cage, sporting a hell of a hairpiece) in exchange for ridding his father’s cancer. From here, the flamehead and company get too straight for the material.

Cage, fresh off Razzie nominee The Wicker Man (Cage “lost” Worst Actor to the Wayans Bros.), takes his role as the Karen Carpenter-lovin’ stuntman turned Satan-employed bounty hunter for a ride and has more fun with it than anyone else could have. When he serves up a pre-show staredown in the mirror to the Carpenter’s ‘Superstar’, we’re not sure whether to laugh or not (though we do), but Blaze/Cage’s unusual traits make us the most perplexed flies on the wall.

Fonda, who has gone from movie maverick god in the Easy Rider days to playing the devil himself, is wasted here as Mephistopheles, while Sam Elliott’s gravel voiceover brings us back to his better days in The Big Lebowski. The only actor delivering what we anticipate is the stingingly bad Wes Bentley as the devil’s son (are you ready for this?) Blackheart.

Ghost Rider is an action movie for kids. After all, they may be the only ones not laughing at the absurdness of the Rider swinging a helicopter across the skyline with a chain. It could perhaps be the ultimate comic book movie for those who don’t know better…or loved Daredevil.

Loaded with unimpressive effects, cartoonish acting, and the most ludicrous moments you’ll see on screen all year, Ghost Rider will require you to turn off your brain for almost two hours…but you’ll still find it idiotic.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with writer/director Mark Steven Johnson & visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack: You’ll basically get the gist of what both parties have to say in the featurettes, so you might as well skip this one.

Commentary with producer Gary Foster: In between outbursts of silence, Foster recycles a lot of the information he shared in the featurettes. He’s not wholly interesting to listen to, so do yourself a favor and skip this one, too.

Spirit of Vengeance (28:59): This is your run-of-the-mill ‘Making of…’ featurette, covering director Johnson’s admiration for the comic, the development of the script, and how the stars came on board. Not worth the extensive time, but stick around to peep out Cage’s black cowboy hat.

Spirit of Adventure (29:52): This repetitive piece puts more focus on the impressive stunts and how a number of them were accomplished. However, there’s still a portion devoted to Eva Mendes…and why not?

And Trailers.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Ghost Rider, in its almost 2-hour running time, may be good for a laugh if you have enough substances in your body. If not, you're just as well turning it off after a half hour. But hey, if you genuinely dug Ghost Rider (and I know someone who did), you might want to toss a few bucks towards the 2-Disc Extended Cut.
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