“Hell is about to be unleashed”
“His curse is his power”
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Starring Nicholas Cave, Eva Mendes and Wes Bentley
Johnny Blaze makes a deal with Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) to save his father from lung cancer, only for Blaze senior to die in an accident during the family stunt-cycle show. Years later, Blaze (Cage) is called on to hunt down renegade demon Blackheart (Bentley) and his Nephilim minions as the Ghost Rider, to prevent a contract for a thousand souls granting vast power to either Mephistopheles or Blackheart.
What’s wrong with it?
Eve Mendes is a feisty, but not much more, as Blaze’s lost love, although she gets at least one shot in, which is something.
Pretty much everything with Blackheart in is ludicrously melodramatic, to the point of unwitting farce, and the occult shenanigans are basically just silly. There is also barely an instance of the Rider getting a decent fight. Blackheart knocks him downa few times, but basically he owns the three Nephilim without much effort, including burning the one made of water.
What’s right with it?
First up, it’s great to see a film that knows how to do a tagline. I mean, it has some less-convincing ones, but look at that pick up there.
It also has Sam Eliot as Carter Slade, the Phantom Rider and Blaze’s predecessor, and no film which casts Sam Eliot as a Texas Ranger has got everything wrong.
How bad is it really?
Chunks of it drag, mired in crummy dialogue, and the action scenes are mostly pretty stilted, but there are occasions where it sparkles (a witness describes the flaming skull head thing as ‘an edge look, but he totally pulled it off’) and it’s cheesy fun.
Best bit (if such there is)?
Slade reveals his identity by lighting up for one last ride, then he and Blaze charge across the desert to an electro-metal rendition of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’. Sadly he doesn’t actually fight, but it’s still awesome.
What’s up with…?
- Burning the water demon?
Production values – Marvel Studios have set the standard in superhero special effects. Not, however, with this film. 15
Dialogue and performances – The Johnny Blaze story is actually pretty solidly written and performed. Unfortunately, the demon stuff drags it down. 11
Plot and execution – The film rambles from set-piece to set-piece. As with the dialogue, the cursed and redeemed storyline is better than the more directly demonic stuff. 12
Randomness – Once you accept that Johnny Blaze is the Devil’s Bounty Hunter, it’s all pretty straightforward. 7
Waste of potential – So, it’s a Ghost Rider movie; what were they going to do? On the other hand, Sam Eliot doesn’t shoot one person. 8