June 21, 2007

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider was never going to be even a good B-movie. The comic book premise looks too absurd on screen, all the digital special effect notwithstanding (or because of the digital special effects). But with Nicolas Cage, Peter Fonda, and Sam Elliott (what a voice!) anchoring the leads, it needn't have been a boring B-movie.

To start with, Ghost Rider is thirty minutes too long. I fear that raw film processing takes up such a microscopic slice of movie budgets these days, nobody thinks twice anymore about shooting 20:1 or 30:1, and then can't bear to leave all that excess material on the editing room floor where it belongs.

In this case, the movie begins with almost a full half hour of two unnecessary backstories. Sam Elliott eventually re-explains the whole plot to Nicolas Cage, so it proves completely redundant. Doesn't anybody in Hollywood know what in media res means anymore?

The other problem is that obviously the director and/or producers could never truly admit how dumb a movie they were making. Eva Mendes, to start with, is completely impossible to take seriously. She looks like an over-inflated Barbi doll. Any more tension in that push-up bra and something might have exploded. But for some reason she keeps trying to act.

I sensed Nicolas Cage attempting to take things over the top with his Elvis/Evel Knievel impressions, but his engine kept getting over-choked. And Peter Fonda and Sam Elliott could have been given a healthier supply of fiber-filled scenery to chew on. At one point Elliott simply walks out of frame and never returns. I wondered if he'd died on the set.

But the real disappointment is that in a cheesy flick about the biker from hell trailing literal flames there isn't a single Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf song! Not even a Meat Loaf cameo! You gotta be kidding me!