After the explosion of comic book films that followed the incredible success of Superman: The Movie, Batman and Spider-Man, a lot of lesser known characters had their stories adapted to the silver screen. One such film, released in 2007 was Ghost-Rider, starring Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, the man who sold his soul to the Devil to save his father’s life and became the demon biker Ghost Rider. It’s pure comic book fluff, but unlike its source material, the film lacks the real edge of the bad-ass biker from Hell.
Johnny Blaze (Cage) is a daredevil motorbike jumper, always risking his own life to make more and more outrageous jumps. We see that his reckless attitude springs from him selling his soul to Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) in order to save his dying father. Years later, when the opportunity arises for Mephistopheles to gain a contract for 1000 corrupt souls that will allow him to bring Hell to Earth, he calls Johnny and transforms him into his own personal delivery man, the demon biker, Ghost Rider, complete with flaming skull. Johnny, struggling with the decisions he makes in his two guises, must defeat a host of evil demons while trying to rekindle a love affair with ex-girlfriend Roxanne (Eva Mendes).
Let’s talk about the highlights of Ghost Rider first. Nicolas Cage. He is back to his early career best, with an almost insane, child-like performance. He sips jelly beans out of Manhattan glasses and listens to The Carpenters while laughing a monkey-related comedy on the internet. It’s a smart and preposterous (in a good way) opposite performance to the wise-cracking, growling Ghost Rider and it works, perhaps not in the way you’d expect, but with a film like this, you take what you can get. This is, however, where the positives end.
The setup to Ghost Rider is ridiculous, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as many comic book adaptations forgo logic in exchange for the ability to tell an exciting and exhilarating story. Sadly the film-makers have aimed low and still managed to miss the mark, which is even more of a shame considering how entertainingly demented Cage is in the lead. Some sketchy special effects and a very weak supporting cast combined with a plethora of melodramatic one-liners that wouldn’t look out of place on a daytime soap opera, leave the audience with a film that’s so terribly and disappointingly mediocre.