Saturday, February 24, 2007

We finally got to watch Ghost Rider after a couple of aborted attempts in the last week. Marvel's supernatural heroes have a niche audience, and GR is no exception. This movie, however, isn't going to turn him mainstream anytime soon.

The dour Day-Walker, Blade, made quite a credible transition to the movies by focusing the trilogy on lots of hard-hitting, tightly choreographed fight sequences, giving the audience at least a visual treat even if we didn't buy the plot. Sadly, GR is one Marvel character that can't make the transition without the use of CGI, and even CGI can't help a character whose head is a skull and is therefore virtually expressionless regardless of his circumstance.

So what to do? Call in Nick Cage to play Johnny Blaze, GR's human side. But though Cage plays tortured souls quite well, his skeletal other-half behaves with too much kiddish glee that the 2 sides don't mesh believably. While Blaze has to live with the consequences of his choices, "forsak[ing] friends, family and love," the stuff of human drama, GR is so invincible, so powerful that there is little that can threaten him and keep us on the edge of our seats.

It's even less thrilling when GR's nemeses, Blackheart and gang, fall so easily as GR takes them out one by one. That Blackheart himself falls due to his own stupidity makes this plot more worthy of a Saturday morning cartoon than it has potential for. Of course, dealing with the ultimate baddie, Mephistopheles, is another story. Literally.

A safe, kid-friendly rendition of a classic conflicted hero. The image of a demon on the side of the angels, a flaming skeleton in black leather-and-chains astride his All-American chopper looks cool but, like GR himself, this movie needs more meat on its bones.

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