Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ghost Rider a fun ride

You're gonna read a lot of bad reviews aimed at "Ghost Rider"; go check RottenTomatoes to get your fill. Every one of them miss the point. This is the kind of movie you go to see for the cheese. It's an adaptation of a comic book with lots of CGI. So sit back, munch the pop corn, and just go with the Rider. It was a great way to spend a few hours Saturday.

I'm no big fan of Nicholas Cage, but I certainly don't have the negative reactions to him that others seem to delight in documenting (the critics). I thought he pulled off a good performance in the movie as Johnny Blaze. I've read that he's a hard-core fan of the Rider, and so he tries to do the role justice. In my opinion, he pulled it off.

The movie starts off with a young Johnny Blaze riding motorcycles with his dad at local carnivals. Peter Fonda shows up one evening as Mephistopheles, the demon who tricks a young Johnny Blaze into selling his soul to save his dad from cancer. But Mephistopheles is the trickster, so while his dad is miraculously cured of cancer the next day, he dies the same day in a carney accident riding his motorcycle for the paying customers. Young Johnny is crushed by the incident and tries to leave everything behind. But before he can leave town completely Mephistopheles shows himself to young Johnny one last time and reveals the real deal, and that Mephistopheles 'owns' him. After that encounter, young Johnny rides off and grows up into Nicholas Cage. And as Cage, he goes and does crazy stunts, like a successful 300 foot nitro-powered motorcycle jump across a football field with six Black Hawk helicopters smack in the middle with millions of fans watching. And killing demons who are trying to bring a literal Hell on Earth. You know, crazy guy stuff.

Another really fun character was Sam Elliot as the Caretaker and former Ghost Rider. After Johnny's/Cage's first transformation into the Ghost Rider, Johnny miraculously rides up to the exact cemetery/'hallowed ground' where the Caretaker currently resides, then collapses at the foot of his father's tombstone. Johnny recovers, and the Caretaker, while stitching up a few cuts, begins to fill Johnny in on what's really in store for him as the Ghost Rider. Sam Elliot was superb, but then he always is. I found it interesting to see him in "Ghost Rider", then to see him again that night on the SciFi channel as Col. Ross in "The Hulk".

This is definitely a guy flick. It's Hell on two wheels. It's dark, violent, corny (in a great way), and Good Triumphs Over Evil at the end of the movie. And it's got Peter Fonda and Sam Elliot. Too cool.

"You know, I used to ride a bike like that too."


"Ghost Rider" comes in #1 at the box office with a weekend total of $44.5 million. If they all paid $6 to see it like I did, that's about 7.5 million moviegoers. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up next weekend. Next week's crop of movies look a little weak ("Reno 911!: Miami", "The Number 23", "The Abandoned", and "The Astronaut Farmer"). Another pan of the critics, "Night At The Museum", came in number 10. It's earned $237 million over the last 9 weeks. My wife and I saw it when it first came out because we'd read the story to our girls when they were little. We both thought it was excellent.

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