Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Ghost Rider!

Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the 2007 superhero flick Ghost Rider.  Starring Nicholas Cage (with a horrible Texan accent), the film centers on Johnny Blaze (Cage) who becomes the devil’s bounty hunter in order to track down the demon Blackheart (Wes Bentley).  Blaze also reunites with his long-lost love Roxanne (Eva Mendes).   He also has a flaming skull.

The plot isn’t really all that revolutionary, and is a bit confusing at parts (Blackheart is searching form some evil scroll that does…something).  The thing that fascinates me is how this movie falls into a genre I call “religious fiction”.  Basically, the film plays with concepts from a religion (in this case Judeo-Christian) in order to create an imaginative tale.  This film gives us a fantastic and interesting mythology, which I became completely invested in as a viewer.

Helping the more fantastical elements of the movie is the humanity of the film.  Unlike other superhero movies, Ghost Rider has a slow burn.  It builds up to the full introduction of the title character for nearly an hour.  In its place, the movie takes the time to really develop our principle characters.  Blaze and Roxanne, in particular, are fully realized people and are played in a very low-key manner and not over-the-top (discounting Blaze’s motorcycle stunts).  It balances well against the fantasy element, and is the driving factor of what made the film work for me.

Not everything is great however.  The movie does get a little convoluted at times.  This is especially apparent when the Ghost Rider first appears.  It is never fully explained if Johnny Blaze is in control, if he’s possessed by a demon, or both.   It disoriented me as a viewer.

The movie also has the problem if introducing too many subplots.  While this isn’t necessarily the worst thing that can happen, it becomes an issue when they are not resolved.  One in particular would have greatly benefited if it was readdressed in one way, shape, or form before the credits rolled.

In the end, Ghost Rider was a fun, little movie.  It had an unassuming western vibe to it which really set this movie apart from other superhero movies of this era.  Ghost Rider got universally shredded in the critical reviews – a bit unfairly, I feel.  It is not the best movie ever made, but it is well-acted, has a cool high concept, and, most importantly, is wildly entertaining.

~N

Trivia Fact: Apparently, Ghost Rider is one of Craig Ferguson’s favorite movies as discussed on this YouTube clip.

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5 responses to “Ghost Rider!

  1. CultureCast-Z February 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Disclaimer: I’ve never seen this movie in its entirety. The small clips and bits I have seen alternated from hilarious bad (but watchable) to kinda totally awesome (in a weirdly bad way though). It seems like it has some tonal problems, and I gleaned that from your review as well. I *am* interested wholly in seeing the sequel, even if I can’t stand the Neveldine/Taylor filmography.

    • CultureCast-N February 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      As you know, I will generally turn a blind eye to various flaws if a movie has a high-concept. The thing that caught me completely off guard was how the movie spent the time developing the characters before the “Ghost Rider” appeared. Kind of how “Batman Begins” spends nearly an hour developing Bruce Wayne before Batman actually appears. There is even a great 15-20 minute sequence at the beginning that centers on the characters as teenagers. I think a lesser movie would have eliminated this completely or would have done limited it to five minutes.

      That said, the movie does have some major structural flaws. For example, the first act is ridiculously long.

  2. CultureCast-K February 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Ghost Rider is my favorite super hero movie, next to Tim Burton’s Batman movies. There is something about it, the awesome one liners, the outstanding CGI, and a good solid story. I felt that the story was easy to comprehend and the only criticism was at the end when it got a little murky. Best scene of the movie was with the old and new style of Ghost Riders riding through the desert! The newest one wasn’t as good but the Ghost Rider, as a character, was much of an improvement. I would LOVE to see a third Ghost Rider film.

    • CultureCast-N February 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Yeah, the two Ghost Riders riding, though somewhat nonsensical (why didn’t he turn into one before and how come he just disappears – I know a reason was given, but relies too much of a “hand wave” to work), was an awesome visual.

  3. Pingback: What Went Wrong?: Vol. 7 « The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

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