"A Film Review of Ghost Rider" was an essay/film review written for Film Production Class with Clayon Rye in the summer semester of 2008 at Ferris State University. It was written by the Dozerfleet founder as an assignment for everyone in class to write a reaction paper to something, where it "could be anything." It was decided to do a film review of Ghost Rider, since that was what was showing on the Starz Channel repeatedly in the summer.
The full review is written below, more-or-less as it appeared in class.
Since the objective is to demonstrate a reaction on something, I decided to do what comes natural to me: a film review. On the Starz Channel recently, I’ve seen the film Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage and Eva Mendes. Therefore, this piece is concerning what I thought of that movie.
First, let’s look at the story/plot:
A man, Johnny Blaze, is tricked into selling his soul to the Devil in order to fight off minions of the Devil when they try to rebel against the Devil and take the agenda of Hell on Earth into their own hands. The Devil, finally being overpowered by one of his own, then makes a bargain with Johnny to return his soul at the expense of taking away his superpowers, but if only if Johnny succeeds at returning the renegade devils to submission to the Mephisto himself. Johnny succeeds only because he accepted his original pact in an effort to save those he loved, as opposed to past Ghost Riders who became so merely because of their own greedy ambitions. Johnny decides against forfeiting his powers, believing that he has already regained his soul, and then refuses to return the powers of the Ghost Rider. He vows after defeating the main villain of the movie that he will then use his new devilish powers to wage war on Mephisto. Mephisto, bewildered by the success of this treason, vows revenge.
Nicholas Cage, starring as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, does a fairly reasonable job giving us a picture of a man who, because of his guilt at the realization of what he’s gotten himself into, lives his life as though he has no real regard for the sanctity of that life. His view of himself improves only a little when he realizes that his childhood crush, Roxanne Simpson (played by Eva Mendes,) still has feelings for him. Personally, I find the plot of this movie not only theologically preposterous, but utterly incoherent even by its own logic.
Much of the western feel for this movie was inspired by country music hits of bygone eras, such as the Johnny Cash rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (remade for this movie by the band Spiderbait) and the Charlie Daniels rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Most of the true highlights of why anyone would even want to see this movie are already spoiled by being shown in the trailers.
It has been noted by other critics that the villains are defeated way too easily, casting doubt on why Carter Slate (played by Sam Elliot) warns towards the middle that “your chances have now just gone from none to slim.” At the same time, Mephisto tells Johnny that Johnny is “the best of the best.” Wouldn’t a Devil sem-mighty like Mephisto prefer to just handle Blackheart himself and trick the worst of the worst into going to war on Blackheart, so that Mephisto could then enjoy Johnny’s agony of defeat? Appearently, the Devil in this movie is not nearly as smart as he is powerful. It begs the question of just how evil he is supposed to be anyway.
The scenes of Johnny performing crazed stunts to impress Roxanne have huge overtones of the scene in Daredevil where Matt and Elektra battle in civilian clothing to impress each other. Neither is entirely believable, but both make for interesting popcorn moments nonetheless.
Next come the technical aspects of this movie. IMDB points out more continuity errors and factual errors than I care to even list. When I watched for the first time, I didn’t notice any truly damning (yes, pun intended) errors in the execution of the animation. However, IMDB has noted that the spiky jacket acquired in the middle of the movie has several glitches that reveal that the effect is CGI. Along with a few other errors of logic, most of them involving the stadium/helicopter scene, the film is fairly well done. I noticed no particular errors in audio, and not shots that were damningly over or underexposed.
Verdict: See it if you don’t mind incoherent popcorn. But if you like an intelligent movie and would feel scarring to your soul by watching an illogical parade of Hollywood-manufactured demons onscreen, then save your money. 2-1/2 stars.