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Ghost Rider (**)
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Written by Mark Steven Johnson.
The original western comic book character Ghost Rider was created by Ray Krank and Dick Ayers.
The contemporary comic book character Ghost Rider was created by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, and Mike Ploog.
Ghost Rider
Principal Cast
Nicolas Cage -- Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
Donal Logue -- Mack
Peter Fonda -- Mephistopheles
Matt Long -- Young Johnny Blaze
Raquel Alessi -- Young Roxanne Simpson
Brett Cullen -- Barton Blaze
Lawrence Cameron Steele -- X Games Announcer
Wes Bentley -- Blackheart
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Ghost Rider has two things going for it, good visual effects and Nicholas Cage. Sadly, director Mark Steven Johnson does not think he needs a writer, even though he lacks basic writerly skills himself. I enjoyed his Daredevil. He does come up with some clever bits. But he has no idea how to establish a character, twist a plot, or build suspense.

There are two Ghost Riders in the movie. I had hoped that the western Ghost Rider would have the white costume and mask of the original comic book character, but no such luck. The failure to tell an interesting pre-credit western mini-movie was also disappointing. Instead, we get a boring voice over.

Turning to the current Ghost Rider, two actors play the part. The first, however, is a blank hero template, waiting for a real actor to come along. When Nicolas Cage takes over the part, the character becomes much more interesting. Cage is impulsive and endearingly inarticulate. He was a perfect choice for the role.

Mark Steven Johnson does not seem to pay a lot of attention to plot. Maybe he doesn't think plot is important. The story goes from A to B without any twists or turns. Ghost Rider sells his soul. To get it back he has to defeat the son of Satan (no, not that Son of Satan). The arch-villain has three henchmen, one representing air, one representing water, and one representing large trucks. Ghost Rider defeats the first henchman. Then, since we need to know that he can absorb souls, he fights one (count 'em, one) petty criminal and absorbs his soul. Then he defeats the second henchman. Then he defeats the third henchman. Then he defeats the main villain. End of story.

Also, Johnson cannot seem to remember the plot points he establishes. The villain cannot enter consecrated ground. Only, then he goes into a church. Since nothing comes of his visit to a church, I assume the director just liked the visuals and, yes, all those candles are pretty, but what happened to the "cannot enter consecrated ground" bit?

Toward the end of the film, the earlier version of the Ghost Rider says, "stay in the shadows." Only, it's night and it's dark. There are no shadows. Besides, how does a person with a flaming head stay in the shadows. The earlier Ghost Rider gives the current Ghost Rider a shotgun. What on earth does a person who can create flame and absorb souls need with a shotgun? Cool visuals, man, don't think so much.

Ah, well, it is worth seeing for the cool visuals, and for lovable, inarticulate Nicolas Cage.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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