Ghost Rider fans, tell me that this film isn’t the pinnacle of the franchise. Reinforce the fact that this is a character that deserves a film that does him justice. This is supposed to be a “cool” character, isn’t it? Why has it been given such a terrible film? I got a headache after watching Ghost Rider. This is a mess of a movie that tells a story that could be contained to a 15-minute Saturday cartoon if it didn’t have so much pointlessness.
We open with such an overlong introductory sequence that I feel bad for even having to describe it. Essentially, a kid named Johnny Blaze (he grows up to be played by Nicolas Cage) and his father do stunts on their motorcycles at a carnival. His father has cancer, but the Devil (Peter Fonda) shows up and tells us that Johnny can sell his soul and have his father’s cancer cured. Johnny does this, but the next day his dad dies. Not from the cancer, but because of an accident. Johnny blames the Devil, but the Devil says that he cured the cancer, so the deal is still solid. Johnny’s soul now belongs to him.
Clearly traumatized by the event, Johnny rides off, leaving the love of his life, Roxanne (Eva Mendes) at the carnival. He then grows up to be a professional stunt rider. Like I said, his father’s accident clearly had an effect on his mental stability. He’s the best in the world, somehow, and even after he fails at one of his stunts that would likely kill a normal man, he survives. Why? The Devil is keeping him alive, that’s why! Meanwhile, Roxanne is a news reporter and is in-town for the current stunt show. The two, after not having talked in years, make plans for dinner.
Mr. Blaze isn’t going to make it to dinner. See, the Devil kept him alive for one purpose: Turning him into the comic book character “Ghost Rider” in order to track down a contract containing 1,000 souls in order to stop a man named Blackheart (Wes Bentley) from getting it first. Or something like that. I hope that summarizes it well enough. It’s ridiculous, but this is a comic book movie involving the Devil and a man who turns into a flaming-skull-dude at night. Of course, this is only revealed on the night of his big date, and because he has no control over his body while in this “Ghost Rider” state, he doesn’t make it.
Of course, I wouldn’t want to show up to a date with the flaming-skull-head that Johnny ends up acquiring. Not because of the potential fire hazard that comes from such a thing, nor because everyone would be terrified to even come near me. No, I would be ashamed because of the terrible CGI used to give me such a head. To call this the worst big-budget rendering of a character in the 21st century might not be exaggerating. It looks awful. I’ve seen better-looking computer graphics in PlayStation 2 games! This is a 2007 film, and it looks worse than something like Spawn, which came out a decade earlier!
Moving on from the terrible CGI-head, the other special effects are not quite as terrible, but they come close. It seems that Ghost Rider can’t go five minutes without shoving CGI in our face. The only thing that looks all right is the fire effects used on Johnny’s bike, but considering how often poor/lazy CGI is used in this film, this is hardly a saving grace.
The police also get involved at one point, attempting to pin a murder on Johnny Blaze. We saw his “Ghost Rider” persona kill the guy (although he was a criminal, so it’s okay), but Johnny denies it. The cops actually go to Roxanne at one point and try to get information from her. At this point, I said out loud that once Johnny inevitably escapes from the cops, we’ll never see them again. I was, unfortunately, right, and it turns out that subplot was just a waste of our time.
So is Roxanne’s. There’s supposed to be a lot of tension between the two, especially considering Johnny left her while they were in love and then later stood her up after getting his second chance, but that’s resolved in a matter of moments without any prior motivation. It’s then when Roxanne becomes Generic Love Interest and we lose any reason to care about what happens to her because she’s now a stock character. Worse, in fact, as she has no personality and is played by Eva Mendes.
Oh, yes, there’s also another pointless addition in the form of the “Caretaker” (Sam Elliott), who knows way more about being a “Ghost Rider” — there have been more in the past and presumably will be more in the future, we learn — than Johnny does. So, he acts like a mentor except he only appears about four times, one of which has him get on a horse, ride with Johnny for some of the distance they have to travel, and then stop and say: “Good luck, kid, but I’m not going any farther. That’s dangerous!” Or at least that’s what it seemed like. I’m not sure anymore. I’m still hoping I dreamt the entire thing and that my subconscious isn’t a very good storyteller.
Ghost Rider is an absolute mess. It has no coherency, little clarity, is without a single point or purpose, and contains terrible special effects that it seems very proud of despite being worse than films a decade earlier. You can usually rely on these superhero films to at the very least look good, but Ghost Rider doesn’t even satisfy my desire to see good special effects. This is one of the worst superhero movies I have ever seen, and I can’t recommend it to anyone, even if you’re a die-hard fan of the character. You’ll just wind up disappointed and crying, wondering what you and other Ghost Rider fans did to deserve this atrocity.