I am all for movie studios going hog wild with comic book properties. Most of these characters have literally decades of stories to pull from, so the quality content is there. Most of them are visually stimulating because of the nature of their genre. And most of them, no matter how far down the echelon from Superman or Spiderman, have an interesting story about why they do what they do.
However, the danger of the comic book movie is ample. For one, if the moviemakers do not truly understand who the character is and who the potential audience is, we have an impending disaster on our hands. Secondly, you cannot take a comic book movie too seriously if you’re the moviemaker; but on the other hand, you also cannot treat it as irrelevant and laughable. Thirdly, you must, must, must avoid all the clichés that we expect in a comic book movie, because what is written in print and drawn on the page does not always translate to living actors and moving pictures. And finally, you absolutely positively do NOT have to give us an origin story to make us understand the character’s motivations. Origin stories are overrated and becoming more so with every comic book movie released.
Okay, so after all that, Ghost Rider wasn’t terrible. It also wasn’t good. It was both good and terrible. It was both terrible and good.
They totally nailed the “look” of the Ghost Rider. They also got his bike one hundred percent right. Homeruns on those accounts.
But, they only had one person who could act in the movie, and that was Nic Cage. And, as much as I love quirky Nic Cage, the director needed to reel him in a few times. Everyone else’s acting was clichéd out the wazoo and difficult to watch.
At times the look and the tone of the film were perfect for a movie about “the Devil’s bounty hunter,” but then it did not keep that look and tone consistently. The director (who also directed Daredevil, a movie I liked very much despite its flaws) simply seemed to lose track of what kind of movie he wanted to make. Was this an origin movie? Sort of. It starts with a young Johnny Blaze, but then it jumps twenty years to a thirty-sevenish Nic Cage as Johnny Blaze. And then the progression continues with plots from twenty-years ago. Why give us the literal footage of Johnny Blaze as a youngster? In my mind, they wasted about twenty-five minutes of my time.
And this is what finally irritates me about comic book movies when done poorly. Every single comic book movie does not have to literally show us the origin of the character. The audience can connect the dots. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to see a comic book movie, I don’t want to wait forty-five minutes to see the comic book character. I want the movie starting out with a great sequence of that character, and if you want to drop some dialogue or give us some QUICK flashbacks of an origin, fine-just don’t make it an origin film.
Wow, I’ve really gone on a rant. Sorry about that.
Ghost Rider. Sometimes great, mostly bad. Cool costumes, cool special effects, some cool locations, but the acting is bad, the story is downright awful, and it generally couldn’t decide what it wanted to be other than a cesspool of comic book clichés.