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Sep 10, 2008

CAGEFEST: The Nic Cage Film Festival - Ghost Rider

CAGEFEST rolls on. For previous entries, click here.

Taking the unenviable PRO position for Ghost Rider is Graham from Movies et al. He's most "famous" for his Film Ignorance series, in which he tackles classics from yesteryear and evaluates just how classic they really are (he even lets others get in on the game, too). But he has much more to offer, and has been doing it in spades for a few months now, with his site having taking off in June. As a bonus, he and I share similar cinematic tastes...well, that is, until this Ghost Rider thing came along. Or not. Read on and see what I mean...

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Nicolas Cage’s recent career has been an unmitigated disaster. Well, since this piece is appearing on Fletch’s blog, and it’s not the first of the Nic Cage entries, I guess I’m not the first to admit it. But allow me to say it again: the last few years (decades?) of Nicolas Cage’s career have been an unmitigated disaster. I even like the guy, and yet seeing that he’s in a movie gives me reason to pre-vomit. Besides Adaptation (which I enjoyed but was a bit overrated) and the National Treasure series (which are terrible movies but which make money for some reason) there’s very little good to say about Nic this millennium. Hell, that’s not much good to say since the peak of his career, which unfortunately came in 1987.

But now we have Ghost Rider. Admittedly, I haven’t seen Ghost Rider. And I don’t really intend to see Ghost Rider. And I probably wouldn’t enjoy it if I did see it, seeing as it probably sucks. And yet, Ghost Rider has got one glorious thing going for it: it features a skeleton, riding a motorcycle, on fire.

I can hardly understand how jaded we are as a culture a movie can come out that features a skeleton, on fire, riding a motorcycle, and no one cares. Luckily, an alien among us has realized the uniquely American achievement that is Ghost Rider, and set out to give it its due. That’s right, Craig Ferguson, the Scottish late night comedian who recently became an American citizen, recognizes that there’s something wrong when a country wildly praises pretentious British crap like Atonement and ignores movies where A SKELETON, ON FIRE, RIDES A MOTORCYCLE! Mr. Ferguson makes this case far more eloquently than I; you should watch him compare Atonement, quite unfavorably, to Ghost Rider. I promise, it’s hilarious: http://lateshow.cbs.com/latenight/latelate/comedy/video/20080225.shtml

Now that you’ve heard from Craig, I’m sure you don’t need to hear anything further in defense of Ghost Rider. The argument is over. And sure, there’s no doubt that the anti-Ghost Rider poster has lots of ammunition; Ghost Rider is clearly a horrible movie, with Nicolas “Snake Eyes” Cage and Eva “Wooden Line Readings” Mendes barely surviving a fourth-rate script detailing the uninteresting adventures of a sixth-rate superhero.

But there’s a skeleton, on a motorcycle, with its head on fire. What else could you possible want?

Joseph Demme of Cinexcellence has what would seem to be an easy job in taking the CON position here. However, as you'll quickly see, he has a tolerance for pain that few can rival. He recently wrapped up the Unseen DVD Blog-a-thon, in which he invited his readers to pick up a movie that they would normally take a pass on. Interesting results followed, including a viewing of Surf Nazis Must Die. What will Joseph think of next?

I originally saw Ghost Rider last year during an airplane flight, and immediately hated it. After signing up to review it for Fletch’s Cagefest, I was curious if I would find myself enjoying it more the second time around. I believe that many initial reactions for films come from the viewer’s mood at the time and the overall timing of the viewing. The DVD of Ghost Rider was also a director’s cut, so maybe there was something new that I would like more.

I was mistaken. I hate Ghost Rider just as much now as when I first watched it.

Judging from the opening and closing credits, which reminded me of “The Grindhouse Experience”, I wonder what it would have been like Quentin Tarantino had gotten his hands on the project.

In my opinion, Ghost Rider struggled from trying to be two different films: A corny, over-the-top flick and a somewhat realistic approach to the superhero genre. I would have rather seen one or the other, instead of the mismatch that it sadly is.

Nicolas Cage, while not bringing anything new in terms of his acting, played the role fairly well. There were a few scenes in his more ‘demonic’ state that were convincing, though. It seemed to be a glimpse into his earlier acting, which I’m now more interested in seeing.

The main detriment to the film was the villains, sans Peter Fonda as The Devil. Not only were they cliché and lacking in development, but they were just too easily defeated. They could have been killed by a baby using a hammer that he couldn’t lift. For all intents and purposes, they were just there as minor hurdles for our hero to leap over with ease.

Along those same lines, the story was melodramatic and bland to this viewer. The romantic scenes between our main characters at a young age were giggle-worthy. Age didn’t improve it all that much.

That said, the overall themes of the film are worthy brain-food. Too bad the rest of the film doesn’t live up to it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Death-Defying Stunts

6 people have chosen wisely: on "CAGEFEST: The Nic Cage Film Festival - Ghost Rider"

Fox said...

I liked Ghost Rider. It's more comic-booky fun than Iron Man and The Batman Whateveritscalled. The cinematography is nice too.

Oh, and Cage? See. Sometimes I agree with Fletch on Cage, but not here. I think Cage is really good in this movie. This is the type of action film I think he succeeds in... the absurd ones. When he tries to play a brooding tough guy (ie. 8MM), he's kind of a goofball. But here he's playing - as Graham said - a dude as a skeleton with his head on fire! I think it totally works.

CAGEFEST tally : Cage 2 Fletch 0!

Graham said...

Of course it works! Not that I saw the movie.

Graham said...

Hey, how come Joseph's picture more prominently features the skeleton with its head on fire? Did I not make myself clear?

Also, I hope people watched that Craig Ferguson video, 'cause that's a funny Scotsman, and him taking Atonement down a peg is priceless.

Fletch said...

I have not seen this...and don't plan to anytime soon.

Graham, as for the pics - it's just coincidence. The poster goes with the PRO, a secondary pic of my choosing goes with the CON.

Graham said...

Sure, sure, it's a coincidence. Sure.

Reel Whore said...

I loved the Ghost Rider comics as a kid and wanted to like the movie for the same reason; it's a skeleton, on a motorcycle, with its head on fire.

Sadly, there are only two reasons to watch this: Eva Mendes's cleavage. Just be sure to mute it so you don't have to hear her lines.