Friday, March 16, 2007

Ghost Rider

Long time ago, heroes and villains were so clearly defined that there was an observation – at least for westerns – that good guys always wear white hats and bad guys wear black. It is not so with today’s movie heroes, particularly in Ghost Rider, where the hero not only doesn’t wear a hat, but he looks like he came from the very depths of hell.

And he got that hellish look was for good reason, the Ghost Rider started out as the Devil’s henchman; a sort of ‘bounty hunter’ in search of damned souls, or whatever dirty work requires him to do. 

Oscar winner Nicholas Cage plays the role of Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle daredevil who sold his soul to Mephistopheles (the devil played by Peter Fonda) in order to save a dying father. But, as often warned on Sunday regarding such deals, the devil double-crossed Blaze by killing the father few moments after being cured. From that moment on Blaze wandered world making a name for himself as a daredevil; but was always in fear of the day when Mephistopheles might collect.

Mephistopheles did collect years after, enlisting Blaze to fight Blackheart, who had mounted a personal war for the leadership of hell. It was at this point that Blaze became the Ghost Rider. 

A slave at first, Blaze slowly controlled the demon in him with the help of a graveyard caretaker, who as it turned out, was a Ghost Rider himself during the 1800s. He defeated Blackheart and declared his independence from Mephistopheles; crediting his advantage as “having the ability to walk both worlds”.

The movie’s highpoint is its magnificent special effects. Comic fans – and this maybe true of all fans of any fictional character born in print – will not be disappointed in seeing Ghost Rider appear on the big screen. Along with a motorcycle, the Ghost Rider wore a black leather jacket. He would have looked like a typical rider so popularize in films, except that he had a skull instead of a head and – like his bike - it was in flames. 

My favorite scene was when the Rider rode his bike, vertically, up a building and as he rode along flames nearby objects was bursting in flames. It was a scene that was both seductive and eerie. I’m sure a still picture of the scene it would be on top of a comic fan’s wish list to hang over their bedroom wall. It was that spectacular.

But over all I did not like the movie too much because the plot was very predictable. The movies The Prophecy and Constantine both had a hell in ‘civil war’. And because of the precedents that I have mentioned I could always guess what will happen next.

Ghost Rider is another in my long list films that failed its potentials. It could have been a nice story of redemption. After all, what is more challenging than redeeming soul sold to the devil? Sadly it did not end up that way. 

Throughout the film Blaze looked liked a lost child in search of an identity than the devil’s henchman gaining back his humanity Even when he achieved the Rider persona, he never showed that he was truly evil. He never had a conflict with which he could overcome, and because of that, the film has lost its kick. 

What a waste. . . The Rebel Biker look was working so well.