Monday, August 13, 2007

Ghost Rider Blows

Nicholas Cage continues his uncontested position as Hollywood's worst actor by continuing to involve himself in wretched movies. The most recent atrocity, Ghost Rider, came my way via NetFlix, and it's the most abysmal comic book adaptation I've had the misery of sitting through. In brief, Cage plays a stunt motorcyclist who ,having signed a pact with the devil as a youth, finds himself transformed into the Ghost Rider, who might be considered Satan's bounty hunter and all purpose enforcer and bone faced goon here on earth. That's as much a summary I care to punish myself with by remembering the particulars. Cage's ever-ready Elvisisms are present, but they like the jittery, jerky spaz- attack elan that at least made his past evocations of Presley (as in Face Off and Gone in Sixty Seconds)memorable enough to be made fun of. In Ghost Rider, we seem to watch him as if he were posing for an oil painting; the camera lingers on that face, wide eyed and bug eyed and locked in an inward driven stare that's locked on studying his likeness on a psychic driver's license. The additional flourish of having him, as Ghost Rider, applying the Kirby Hand , ie, the dramatic reaching out toward someone being addressed, fingers splayed dramatically, and holding the arm in position while he monologues the usual virtues of what happens when good versus evil is, doubtless, based on the study of various frames of comic book illustration. This might have been an artful resource,a stylistic tic put to marvelous use by Warren Beatty in his film Dick Tracy, which managed to honor the drawing style of Tracy creator Chester Gould while having the images move fluidly along, briskly, cleanly. Someone here forgot the movies have to move. Even the makers of the other wise horrible Incredible Hulk understood that much.


  1. Well, at least you didn't pay the full bucks to see it at the theater, as I did. Not a case of the bigger the better. I was quite disappointed, as I thought the Ghost Rider comic was both obscure and simple enough that a writer could have created a pretty good B-movie out of it. In much the same way that Blade was a totally enjoyable romp.
    Personally, I'm looking forward to a New Gods movie, preferably animated in full Kirbyesque glory.

  2. You may be a little unfair to to Cage's agent here, blaming his, um, presence on his choices of parts. Surely he owns most of those terrible acting chops his own self, yes? If it's not dopey and aimless, it's lost for him. I mean, he was sort of OK in Raising Arizona playing himself, but...

  3. I thought the first two Blade movies were perfect, high-quality B movies, fast, loud, well edited and sufficiently motivated to be diverting and beguiling. They were fun features. The third Blade installment, though, stalled at the starting gate. All pose, no cajones. Ghost Rider, though, was just static, dispite all the fire and fury and generous applications of computer animation. Peter Fonda might have made an interesting Devil, but there was nothing for him to do except practice his increasing resemblance to poet Michael McLure. Additionally, am I the only who is leary of seeing devils dressed as fashion-victim Goths and Emos'? Robert DeNiro's finely attired demon, long fingernails and all, was quite a bit more unnerving than these costumed morons.

    A New Gods movie would be interesting, and it would be fantastic if they included as much Kirbyesque technology as they could.


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