The problem with comic books is that they are inherently cheesy.
This is why many people out grow them. Some of us are escapists though, and we need our fix of fantasy to make living in the real world that much more bearable.
But yeah, they can be very cheesy, and what is drawn or painted on the printed page may look cool, but transferring that to live action on the silver screen doesn’t always work out.
Ghost Rider suffers from this fact.
The Spirit of Vengeance is a visually cool, bad ass character, but in live action…
Well, the movie looks cheesy.
Luckily for me and hopefully for a lot of comic fans around the world, writer / director Mark Steven Johnson doesn’t apologize for wearing his comic book loving heart on his sleeve. So he made a comic book movie through and through, cheesiness be damned. Like his DAREDEVIL before it, Johnson’s Ghost Rider takes a total comic book approach to the subject matter, but he mixes it up a bit for the uninitiated, as to not totally alienate them. Here he teams up with hardcore comic book fan Nicolas Cage (not only is his “stage name” based on a comic book character (Luke Cage – Power Man), but the man named his son Kal El, which is Superman’s true, Kryptonian name) to bring us the story of a motorcycle stunt driver that does something in the name of love only to have it burn him later on.
Cage plays Johnny Blaze as a quirky, Elvis-lite. But for all the kinda goofy mannerisms and the slightly Southern drawl, he does reflect a haunted soul. Nice touch.
And somehow, despite being over the top, he doesn’t come off as TOO cartoony…
Eva Mendez plays the love interest, and she does OK, but she’s not terribly convincing and neither is the way her character is written.
Wes Bentley was supposed to be the next big thing. He was really good back in American Beauty, but I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything since, and here he’s a bit cartoony, and the CGI factor definitely hurts. Shame, really.
Aside from Cage, Sam Elliot is the best thing about the movie, but let’s be honest, he’s playing Sam Elliot. But he’s always cool, so that’s a good thing.
So now’s where the fact that I’m a comic book guy changes things.
If I wasn’t, I’d be a lot harsher on this movie. I mean, it has more working against it than it does for it. But dammit, it’s a comic book movie, and the main guy drives a bad ass bike and his head is a flaming skull! Come on, you gotta love it.
I know it probably deserves worse, but I say: