Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ghost Rider -- Not Half Bad!

Ghost Rider

I'm just getting back from an evening out seeing GHOST RIDER. While I expected another laughable car wreck of a Nicolas Cage film, I was delightfully surprised by the cheesy little romp. Certainly, it's no powerhouse of daring and pathos but it wasn't an excruciating exercise in poor special effects and Cage overacting either. I think that's because the screenplay by writer/director Mark Steven Johnson (DAREDEVIL) relied on some other, stronger works for its success. Throughout GHOST RIDER I was frequently reminded of the following films/comic books (and some filmed comic books):

  • BLADE (Stephen Norrington, 1998)
  • CONSTANTINE (Francis Lawrence, 2005)
  • Preacher (Garth Ennis)*
  • ROAD HOUSE (Rowdy Herrington, 1989)
  • THE BIG LEBOWSKI (Joel Coen, 1998)
The Dude Abides

Certainly the presence of Sam Elliot chanelling Kris Kristofferson's Whistler character from BLADE while being his sensei Wade Garrett character from ROAD HOUSE and narrating as he did in THE BIG LEBOWSKI helped some of that, as did the presence of Donal Logue (not as naughty as he was in BLADE) did as well. Couple this with the fact that Ghost Rider is among the "this is a cool character that we don't know what to do with" side heroes of Marvel along with Blade, ROM, Man-Thing, and Doctor Strange helped enforce the BLADE similarities too. However, the film's supernatural/demonic underpinnings really helped call CONSTANTINE and Preacher to mind.

So, yest ye be tempted to write off GHOST RIDER before giving it a chance (I know I almost did based on it being delayed in release for over a year along with its lousy preview), go ahead and rent GHOST RIDER when it comes out on DVD. It's good for an afternoon viewing.

* Note that Garth Ennis also penned issues of Hellblazer (upon which CONSTANTINE was based) such as #41-50, #52-83, #129-133, and the recent Ghost Rider "Road to Damnation" and "Trail of Tears")