Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ghost Rider - not ghostly enough

All I can say is (well, okay, not all, since I'm clearly about to say more, but...) this movie was lucky to get a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Let's get one thing clear first - I love good brain candy, and Nic Cage has been in some great brain candy (Con Air? Face/Off? National Treasure - ok, not great, but pretty darn fun).

And let me add something else... I'm more than happy with super-hero movies where you've got folks flying around, disappearing, stretching, bouncing bullets, etc. That said, there are some rules - really. Think about it - the best 'supernatural' films create a reality that offers you some logic, some explication that, albeit requiring a leap of faith, carries you from your reality to the film's reality, which you can then inhabit and in which you can believe. And the key to this? Rules folks... sorry, but there you have it.

First rule? The backstory... and this rule is actually pretty easy, there has to be one. Yeah. That's it. Not too tough. Unless there isn't.

    Superman - born on a planet that destroyed itself and, in a last-ditch effort by his parents to save him, ends up on the third rock.
    Spiderman - didn't anyone tell him to beware those pesky biting spiders in cutting-edge laboratories?
    X-Men - global warming, animal species disappearing at a rapid rate, is it any surprise the human genome is mutating like this?
    Batman - ain't it amazing what tragedy, trauma, trust funds and triceps to die for can accomplish?

Why am I rehashing all of this? Well, I don't know the Ghost Rider comics, or the story therefrom - and, sadly, after seeing the movie, I still don't. You should not walk out of a super-hero movie without knowing how and/or why that superhero came to be. Actually, let me rephrase, you shouldn't have to sit through an entire movie without knowing how or why.

Second rule: whatever the backstory is in the comic books, you have tell it, and hopefully tell it well, in the movie.

On top of that ignominious disregard for basic comic book protocol, Nic Cage phones it in (and really, how could he do anything else, since his face seemed not just botoxed, but actually ironed smooth), Eva Mendes does a creditable imitation of a block of wood, and a blow-dried Peter Fonda looms periodically, presumably with malicious intent, in a long, flapping coat.

You get the idea - there's just nothing here. Sad to say, this movie is a big, fat pass.

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