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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Ghost Rider’ crashes in comic-based film

    Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) may heat up the screen in Ghost Rider with his fiery costume, but the movie fizzles with cheesy dialogue, awkward action scenes and a bad love connection.
    Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) may heat up the screen in “”Ghost Rider”” with his fiery costume, but the movie fizzles with cheesy dialogue, awkward action scenes and a bad love connection.

    Occasionally, movie studios will release big-budget films without pre-screening them for the press because studio execs fear the movie is so horrible it will get railed by critics, driving the audience away. “”Ghost Rider”” is one of those movies.

    In the film, Nicolas Cage stars as the Marvel Comics supernatural anti-hero who “”in the presence of evil”” turns into a flaming, leather-clad skeleton that rides a motorcycle (also on fire).

    In the movie, stuntman Johnny Blaze (Cage) sells his soul to the demon Mephistopheles to save his father’s life. Mephistopheles, played by Peter Fonda (oh you’ve come a long way since “”Easy Rider””), then makes Blaze his personal bounty hunter, the Ghost Rider, and sends him to recover a magical contract “”worth a thousand souls.””

    There was also some other sub-plot involving Eva Mendes as a news reporter, but it was hard to follow because her cleavage had more screen presence than she did. The best or most humorous moment of the movie comes as Blaze finally meets up with the original Ghost Rider, a flaming skeleton cowboy on a flaming horse and the two ride off into the desert to a remix of “”Ghost Riders in the Sky”” (Yip-pie-ya-aye, Yip-pie-yi-o).

    It’s tough to adapt good comic books into movies and it’s even tougher to adapt bad comics like “”Ghost Rider.””

    For the story, writer/director Mark Steven Johnson decided to use the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider from the original 1970s comic about a stuntman who sells his soul for his supernatural powers,

    “”Ghost Rider””
    Rating: PG-13
    Length: 114 min.
    Production Company: Columbia Pictures

    instead of the Daniel Ketch Ghost Rider from the ’90s, who finds a magical motorcycle in a junkyard after his sister is killed by ninja gangsters. This was a tough call for the studio, as they didn’t want to alienate any “”Ghost Rider”” aficionados, but in reality most so-called “”fans”” didn’t know there was any difference to begin with.

    “”Ghost Rider”” is entertaining the same way TV shows about car crashes caught on tape are entertaining. In this case the crash is Nicolas Cage’s career (he starts work on the sequel to the 2004 catastrophe “”National Treasure”” this summer).

    Cage’s weak performance is temporarily veiled when the flaming skeleton takes over the role, but it’s like vomit indiscreetly covered by a towel: It still stinks, it just doesn’t look as bad.

    All in all, “”Ghost Rider”” isn’t as pathetic as Halle Berry’s “”Catwoman,”” but it will certainly go into the pantheons as one of the worst comic-book adaptations, soon to be joined by this summer’s “”Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.””

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