Ghost RiderThursday 01 Mar 2007
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Matt Long and Peter Fonda.
Duration: 114 minutes
Selling your soul to the devil seems somewhat old-fashioned these days but it's the central conceit for 'Ghost Rider', a film adaptation of yet another Marvel Comics hero. 'Ghost Rider' might not go in the series direction of fellow Marvel heroes Spider-Man, Blade and the X-Men but it just might keep a few 14-year-old boys happy for an afternoon.
After a suitably apocalyptic prequel, we meet teenage motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Long, looking like a young Tom Cruise) who accidentally ends up making a deal with Mephistopheles (played by 'Easy Rider's Fonda) for his father's life. Like all such deals, this one goes horribly wrong, leading to Johnny fleeing and leaving everything - and everyone - behind.
Years later, all grown into Nicolas Cage, Johnny Blaze is a superstar. He has become the Evel Knievel of his time, walking untouched away from what should be horrible accidents and constantly pushing the envelope. When his abandoned childhood sweetheart Roxanne (Mendes) appears back in his life, he's ready for a change - but not the one someone else has in mind for him: a transformation into Ghost Rider, a bike-riding Spirit of Vengeance, sent to stop Mephistopheles' rebellious son Blackheart (Bentley) from taking over the world.
Cage - complete with a distracting hairpiece - goes for full freaky acting mode here, playing Johnny as an intensely suppressed, Carpenters-fixated individual, downing jellybeans from martini glasses and hot coffee straight from the pot. If the superhero genre is what you're into, he'll do you fine, especially when he morphs into a blazing, superpowered skeleton. If you're not, you may find some distraction in Eva Mendes' impressive shirt-straining skills. Either way, it's sure that 'Ghost Rider' is not one of the classic Marvel adaptations.