Movie Review: Ghost Rider
Starring Nicholas Cage
Wow. That was a mess. Bad acting, bad dialogue, bad CGI, and a plot that doesn’t make any sense. I knew there was a reason that I’d held off watching this one. So how did this all go so terribly wrong?
Nicholas Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stuntman. As a teenager, he sold his soul to Mephistopheles (ie The Devil) in order cure his dad from cancer. Dad is cured, but dies in a motorcyle accident the next day. Oh how fickle Mephistopheles can be. Let us cower before his evilness. Johnny hits the road, leaving behind his girlfriend, Roxy, not wanting Mephy to have another target.
Years later, Johnny is a big time stunt rider. Who can’t die. Because Mephy has a purpose for him. Meanwhile, Mephy Jr, Blackheart, has got a crew of demons together in a plot to take down daddy. Mephy turns Johnny into the Ghost Rider and hilarity ensues.
Quite frankly, this movie doesn’t make any sense. Johnny doesn’t actually sign the contract with Mephy. It’s just a drop of his blood. It’s completely accidental. And why does Mephy want Johnny’s soul in the first place? He doesn’t actually do anything with it for years.
Johnny runs away from his girl, but when he meets up with her years later, he goes after her again. What was the whole point in running in the first place? And of course there’s the cliched scene where he makes a date with her and then stands her up because he’s being Ghost Rider.
When Johnny first becomes Ghost Rider, he is told that he can only be Ghost Rider at night. Yet somehow, at the end of the film, this is changed so that he can become Ghost Rider in the shadows. What the? The only reason I can think of for this is that they wanted to show Nicholas Cage’s face in the final scenes and it’s hard to do that when the main character is just a flaming skull.
And the worst bit is the ending. Mephy offers to give Johnny back his soul. So what does Johnny do? He says no thanks and says he is going to keep being Ghost Rider and fight Mephy. Where did that come from? He’s been Ghost Rider for all of two days. He has no idea how to control the Ghost Rider. He has no idea how to fight Mephy. So instead of getting his sould back, he’s going to threaten the Devil. And what does Mephy do? He screams in anguish and runs away. Yeah right. I reckon he would have stood there and laughed at the stupid little man.
I was thinking before I started watching this movie that I would have some great things to say about spiritual warfare. That I could discuss Ephesians 6 and how we should always be prepared for the Devil’s attacks. That we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking he didn’t exist. Or that the Bible doesn’t speak about an ultimate battle between good and evil that is still going on today, because Jesus won that battle conclusively 2000 years ago on the cross. But nothing in this movie makes me want to say these things. This movie makes me want to shout at the screen and say “Stop Being Stupid!”
How would I do things differently? I think the biggest problem (other than letting Nicholas Cage be Ghost Rider) is that they were trying to make a superhero movie and not a horror movie. Ghost Rider is not a hero. He is a demon who fights other demons. He only seems like a good guy because he fights demons who are worse than him. Ghost Rider should be going after far worse criminals than a petty purse snatcher.
Here’s my Ghost Rider pitch. Johnny blaze is a young motorcycle stunt man, along with his dad. His dad ends up in a coma in hospital after a stunt goes wrong. Johnny is responsible for the accident because he was careless and didn’t check the stunt properly. Full of guilt and anguish over what he is done, Johnny knowingly makes a deal with the Devil – if his dad is healed, Johnny will become the Ghost Rider. The Devil keeps up his end of the deal and dad is riding again in no time.
Johnny, being foolish and young, thinks that he can refuse the jobs he is given as Ghost Rider. When he turns down an assignment, the Devil kills Johnny’s dad. Determined not to bring death to anyone else he loves, Johnny hits the road on his dad’s chopper, doing what the Devil tells him.
A year later (a young Ghost Rider is more fun than a middle aged one), Johnny is on the trail of a biker gang. Led by the demon Blackheart, this gang has been terrorising small towns, leaving horror and destruction in their wake. It is the Ghost Rider’s job to take them down.
Johnny takes down the gang after many hard fought battles, finds love with one of the gangs female victims, and manages to strike a blow to the Devil in the process. However, Johnny is still the Ghost Rider and hits the road again, alone, waiting for the opportunity to be free from the curse forever.
Ghost Rider should be a horror movie that engages with Motorcycle culture and with a heavy metal soundtrack. The Devil should be very, very bad. And the decision Johnny makes to sign his soul away should have very dire consequences. Then we might have a movie worth watching.