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GHOST RIDER by Mark Steven Johnson

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Legend has it that once a man sold his soul to the devil blah blah – you know the drill. This man became the Ghost Rider, the devil’s bounty hunter who has to track down fugitives who escaped from hell. In this generation, young Johnny Blaze (Matt Long), a daredevil Evil Knievel-like stunt driver, signs a contract with the devil to save his father – don’t he know you can’t trust Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda)? Years later, just when older Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) meets his lost love Roxanne Simpson (Eva Mendes), the devil summons him to destroy Blackheart (Wes Bentley) – none less than the devil’s son gone rogue – and his gang of fallen angels, the Hidden or Nephilim. At night or in the presence of evil, the Ghost Rider has the ability to transform into a flaming skeleton with somewhat superhuman powers and the power of the “Penance Stare” that lets a sinner feel all the pain he has caused to others. There is also some lost ancient contract involved that the first Ghost Rider stole when he turned against his hellish master, and for some reason both the devil and Blackheart want to have this contract.

Brought to the screen by Mark Steven Johnson, the man who already slaughtered DAREDEVIL, Ghost Rider is another Marvel comic film that reeks of a cheap cash-in. As comic-adaptations go, there is an A-League (Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Spider-Man), a B-League (X-Men, X2, Fantastic Four or Hellboy), and there is a C-League, reserved for the likes of Daredevil, Catwoman, or Batman and Robin. Sadly, Ghost Rider is clearly C-League.
Reportedly, the production cost of Ghost Rider was $ 110 million. It looks like most of the money was spent for Nicolas Cage’s and Eva Mendes’ salary, and the rest for creating clunky CGI (Ghost Rider moves like he’s bored stiff by the lame action. The flaming skull is decent for a B-movie but far from spectacular). No budget seems to have been wasted for a decent script or good supporting actors.
The supposedly powerful Nephilim are dispatched as easily as the next bagsnatcher on the street, Blackheart’s most threatening assets are pale skin and red eyes, and suspense only arises when the trailer for SPIDER-MAN 3 is shown before the main feature.
Not only the villains are crappy, it’s also hard to care for the heros when Mark Steven Johnson’s idea of communicating the feelings between Johnny and Roxanne is letting them stand below a tree surrounded by blossoming flowers in an otherwise desolate CGI-landscape … not only once, but twice!

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Ghost Rider trailer

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