Friday, February 16, 2007

I Went to See "Ghost Rider" today-- thoughts with "SPOILERS"

It was more an interesting movie than a good one. I'd say I enjoyed myself while I was watching, and it certainly had virtues, most of them embodied by Eva Mendes. Nicolas Cage gave a decent, slightly campy performance (that matched the tone of the movie). But. There were some real problems. First and foremost, the villains weren't particularly interesting or memorable. I only remember one of them, the kid from "American Beauty," and I'm not exactly sure why he wanted the scroll with the list of souls on it. Something about gaining the power of hell and therefore the ability to destroy the world; fairly standard stuff. And his buddies are dispatched too easily. Peter Fonda, as the devil, wasn't exactly a figure of menace, either. He looked a bit wobbly.

The biggest problem was that it didn't stay true to its own logic. For instance, after Johnny's been arrested for the crimes perpetrated by the kid from American Beauty and his cohorts (and why was he arrested, exactly?) and he changes into the Ghost Rider while in jail, and then escapes, he makes a comment about everyone knowing who he is, that it's all over the news. Then, in the very next scene, we see Roxanne walk right in to Johnny's loft, no police anywhere to be seen, only to find his mechanic, who seems to be only slightly informed about Johnny's predicament. And the scene in which Johnny tries to learn to "control" his Ghost Rider power-- what? The devil set forth the terms of Johnny's obligation to him, that he would become the Ghost Rider and collect souls for him when he wanted him to, and then the terms seem to change. And the big showdown at the end-- at first the rule is that Johnny changes into the Ghost Rider at night, but during this fight, he changes when he's in the shadows. I don't understand. And the devil lets him out of his obligation, and Johnny tells him, No, I'll keep the curse for myself. Why can he do that? And why does the devil yell and tell him how angry he is, and then disappear? He's the devil, for crying out loud! He can't remove the curse? And, why did Sam Elliott's character (I'm pretty sure he played exactly the same character he played in The Big Lebowski-- hell, this movie even opened with Sam Elliott doing a dreamy voice over about legends and the old west) just turn and disappear after riding all the way to Villa Whatever with him?

What was interesting was the way the movie was so clearly attempting to appeal to "middle America." The movie takes place in Texas, a "red state." Johnny Blaze makes his living as a stunt motorcycle driver, doing jumps in carnivals, automobile race tracks, and football stadiums. His taste is decidedly middle-brow; he laughs hysterically at television programs about monkeys karate-chopping middle-aged men, and listens to The Carpenters. (The Carpenters was a deliberate choice.) And of course it was loaded with Christian symbolism, with the devil, hell, fallen angels, the church and graveyard being hallowed ground. In a way, "Ghost Rider" might be the first big-budget Christian superhero movie, although not the first Christian (costumed) superhero.

Maybe the most interesting bit was the scene in which Ghost Rider rescues a woman who's in the process of being mugged. That's been done before, but the woman that Ghost Rider rescues is noticeably overweight. I don't remember ever seeing a movie in which an overweight woman is put in danger like that, and then rescued.

I Have Been Busy

I haven't posted in awhile, because I've been busy creating the scripts for the comic book event of the year. That's not enough for you?

I went in to the Platinum Studios office this week and signed some copies of the KISS 4K Limited Edition Collector's Item book. Gene and Paul will be signing them as well, creating a precious keepsake for Ricky Sprague fans. And I know there are some out there!

I also got a chance to look at the mock-up that was done, actual size (it's about three feet tall), with the first three pages. Man, is that thing going to be big. The artwork looks beautiful, though.

More sooner rather than later, hopefully.