Friday, November 6, 2009

The Name's Rider, Ghost Rider

Didja see the movie Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage? Not very good, was it? Very standard, dull superhero movie, more Fantastic Four than The Dark Knight.

The only good scenes were him driving the fiery ghost bike up the side of the building and when he and the Cowboy Ghost Rider were riding side by side in the desert. Other than that, it was dullsville.

But Ghost Rider made money, so naturally we're gonna have our skulls set on fire a second time, and according to this article from, screenwriter David S. Goyer said GR will seem more like JB (James Bond) in part deux. Specifically Goyer sites Casino Royale, the movie that not only introduced a new actor into the 007 tuxedo, but reined in the jokes and silliness and bald, world-conquering cat-stroking madmen for a much more realistic, serious tone. Goyer says GR2 will have a "more realistic" tone.

Goyer goes on to say it's not really a reboot, but if you know nothing about Ghost Rider you can still follow the character. Come on, it's a reboot.

Here's a question: why didn't you just do Ghost Rider right THE FIRST TIME? Ghost Rider was created by Marvel Comics in the 1970s to capitalize on the Evel Knievel motorcycle craze and the success of horror movies like The Omen and The Exorcist at the box office. What part of any of that translates into "let's do a slick, loud movie version of this character?"

The look of Ghost Rider was like any slick overshot music video. I think it should have had a raw, visual look and feel more like Saving Private Ryan; the colors are bleached out so it's almost black and white. After all, Johnny Blaze isn't the happiest of characters - the devil is literally messing with this dude on a constant basis. And with a much more gritty, subdued visual style, when Blaze becomes the blazing Ghost Rider that would really POP on-screen.

For goodness sakes, get some interesting actors to play cool villains. Peter Fonda and Wes Bentley made NO impression as the villains in the movie. Yes, Fonda is famous for THE motorcycle movie Easy Rider, but Ghost Rider is NOT that type of movie, so that stunt casting did nothing for the movie in the end. Quentin Tarantino cast unknown actor Christoph Waltz as the villainous Col. Landa in the recent Inglourious Basterds. Now everyone is talking Oscar nomination for Waltz. The right actor for the right role will always help your movie more than stunt casting or using a "name" actor (see Martin Sheen in Spawn). Everyone was talking about the Col. Landa character this summer. When Ghost Rider was released NO ONE was talking about Fonda's Mephistopheles character.

And keep the story simple, like the Spider-Man movies do (well, Spidey 1 and 2). Ask someone to explain the plot of Spidey 2 and I'll bet they can, but try to explain Ghost Rider's story and it's a mess, with the Contract of San Venganza, Blaze's deal with Mephistopheles, Blackheart's plot to overthrow his father, the trio of demons called the Hidden, blah, blah, blah. Keep it simple!

Now it's time for a vodka martini, flaming not stirred.

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