Comic Book Movie Rewatch: Ghost Rider

I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 2007 movie Ghost Rider.

51ERAKyu-hLGhost Rider

IMDb Rating: 5.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes critics: 26%

Rotten Tomatoes audience: 48%

My Rating: 3/10

I tried really hard to like this movie, but I just couldn’t do it. I remember the first time I saw it I thought that it wasn’t too bad, but after watching it again, I have to admit that it really was bad. It’s sad too, because the story is actually pretty solid, it’s pretty much everything else that’s terrible.

There were a few bright spots in the movie. Sam Elliot and Eva Mendez were both fine, they fit their roles and played their parts well. I’ll also say that, for the most part, the visual effects are good, not great, but good. That’s about it for the positives, unfortunately.

While there were a lot of problems with the movie, I’m going to focus my attention on two big ones. The first is the directing. I usually really like it when the director is also the writer because it means there’s no disconnect between the intention and the execution of a scene. That wasn’t the case here. I felt like the director couldn’t decide whether he wanted the movie to have the tone of a western or a punk/gothic movie (kind of like The Crow). The character could have fit in either world, but somehow managed to awkwardly straddle the two so that the movie isn’t really either one. I also blame the director for not reeling in Nic Cage. It’s just so obvious he’s acting, especially during the first transformation scene, where he goes from a look of horror to maniacal laughing. He’s practically looking at the camera and shouting ‘look how cool this is!’

The second issue was the writing itself. The overall story is fine, but the details, especially the dialogue, are painful. Blackheart’s speech to Mephisto is particularly bad (“I will retire him, just like I will retire you,” really? That’s the best he could come up with?). Over and over again the characters had unnatural sounding lines that pulled me out of the narrative. Character consistency is another issue with the writing. Roxanne is very cool towards Johnny when they first meet, then suddenly, with no motive at all, she throws herself at him. Johnny is all over the map, from calm and collected to frenzied to angry. He somehow manages to master his powers overnight, just by instinct alone. It’s a mess.

Those aren’t the only issues. There were problems with the use of CGI (Cage’s digital abs being the most egregious), the music isn’t great, the acting is bad, and the characters miscast (except Sam Elliot, he fit perfectly). Even with all those other problems, however, most of the blame lies on the writer/director. I’m really glad the rights to the character have reverted to Marvel, because Columbia totally botched the character.

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