by Susan Starr and Kevin Kocur
Susan sez: “Ghost Rider” is a generic story based on a Marvel Comic. When we first meet 17 year old Johnny Blaze, he is doing a motorcycle stunt show with his Dad (Brett Cullen) and is madly in love with Roxanne (Raquel Alessi). Johnny sells his soul to the devil (Peter Fonda) in an attempt to cure his father’s cancer. Things don’t work out so well.
The movie jumps ahead in time and Johnny, now played by Nicolas Cage, does crazy stunts because he is convinced the devil won’t let him die. Roxanne is now played by Eva Mendes, and appears ten years younger than Johnny. The devil may save your life, but he isn’t going to do your skin any favors. The devil gets back in touch with Johnny and gives him a mission: hunt down the devil’s evil son, Blackheart, (Wes Bentley) and Blackheart’s incredibly incompetent minions. To accomplish this task, Johnny becomes the Ghost Rider, a guy with flames coming out of his head, and bike.
The movie is extremely muddled and predictable. If you guessed that Roxanne will be put in danger because of her connection to Johnny and need him to save her, you’re right. If you guessed that it has an open-ended ending that allows for a sequel, you’re also right. I’m a little unclear as to whether the Ghost Rider is supposed to be a good guy or not. He works for the devil, but his mission is to punish evil-doers. Kevin enjoyed looking at the bikes, so maybe on that basis I can recommend it to your average MMM reader.
Kevin sez: The first thing I noticed was the bike—a chromed, rigid Panhead with upswept fishtails…..throw a red, white and blue paint job on it and….who was one of the costars? Peter…something….damn, that bike looks familiar………ah yes, Fonda! That’s it. The studio decided to have some fun and make Ghost Rider’s bike a Captain America replica—but with a flamed paint job instead of the stars ‘n stripes scheme. Even Pete’s character makes the comment “Nice bike.” Funny stuff.
“Ghost Rider” is full of bikes. Just the way a good motorcycle flick should be! In the beginning of the film, the stunt riders are riding what appear to be Harley XR 750’s (although I’m certain they were 883’s dressed for the part) and “present day” Johnny is on a heavily chromed and flamed Buell Lightning. I love how they show closeups of the billet brake lever and gear shift. Does it really matter if your levers are billet when your bike is tumbling down the landing ramp? There’s also shots of the obligatory Harleys parked out in front of a local Texas watering hole, as well as the star Panhead. By far the coolest scenes featured a Honda ST1100P Police bike. I was pretty excited to see an ST1100P in an American movie, considering that most U.S. Law Enforcement agencies are using either Harleys or BMWs. I later discovered that a majority of the film was shot in Melbourne, Australia. So much for that.
Since the film is based on a comic book, it’s no surprise that it has a comic book feel to it. The production values are top notch, plus the cast and acting are good as well. I was especially pleased that they cast Raquel Alessi as a young Roxanne, since she really does look like she could be Eva Mendes’ younger sister. The special effects are amazing and, if you can get past some of the cartoonish dialogue, you may actually find yourself enjoying the movie. Just remember to throw plausibility out the window and you’ll be fine (bourbon usually helps). All in all, not a particularly fantastic film, but not a piece of crapola. Just a good, solid way to entertain yourself for just short of two hours.
Trivia time! Ghost Rider’s flaming, computer-generated skull was made from a three dimensional x-ray taken of Nicolas Cage’s actual skull. Although I don’t think Nick’s skull is actually on fire. At least I hope not.
The footage of Johnny Blaze crashing during a stunt is real. More specifically, the footage of the stunt rider doing an unplanned, over the bars dismount was used for the crash scene. Eerily, that scene was very reminiscent of an Evel Knievel crash from the 70’s—right down to the rider getting clocked in the head by the bike.
It took the makeup department three hours, every day, to apply Nicholas Cage’s hairpiece. Maybe it’s because his skull kept catching fire….?