Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Things I don't understand #30...

...How movies like Ghost Rider ever get made. (Yes, we now return to the general nonsensical buffoonery that you've all come to expect)
Really. You're telling me this got by writers and directors (in this case the same person), producers, studio execs and numerous other supposed motion picture gatekeepers and no one thought to say, "Uh...has anyone noticed that this really sucks and doesn't seem to make any sense?" No one? Oddly enough, I got a urgent memo from the Department of Flimsy Premises a mere three minutes into this travesty, but I sallied forth. Despite what some might say, I do not shirk from commitment. Afterall, this movie featured such noteworthy actors as Nicolas Cage playing the title character who starred in Face Off and Con Air. Or Eva Mendes as Ghost Rider's love interest, who made such epics as Hitch and 2 Fast 2 Furious. (As an aside, the more I see of Eva Mendes' "acting" the more I'm convinced that the major reason she continues to get movie roles is her ability to fill out a dress.) Also there's Wes Bentley playing the devil's son, Blackheart, whom I'm sure has been in something since American Beauty but there's a good chance no one has noticed. And let's not forget the devil as played by Peter Fonda, who was produced from Henry Fonda's sperm and was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall Of Fame. How could all these "great" actors go wrong? Surely they wouldn't lead me astray. Oh, but they would.

First I'll give a brief synopsis so you've got some idea how the story goes (I assume I'm the only one of us dumb enough to sit through this):
When the motorcyclist Johnny Blaze finds that his father Barton Blaze has a terminal cancer, he accepts a pact with the Mephistopheles, giving his soul for the health of his beloved father. But the devil deceives him, and Barton dies in a motorcycle accident during an exhibition. Johnny leaves the carnival, his town, his friends and his girlfriend Roxanne. Years later Johnny Blaze becomes a famous motorcyclist, who risks his life in his shows, and he meets Roxanne again, now a TV reporter. However, Mephistopheles proposes to Johnny that he will release his contract if he becomes the "Ghost Rider" and defeats his evil son Blackheart, who wants to possess one thousand evil souls and transform hell on earth.
How could this be bad, right? Yeah. Well, the first problem is that we spend a tad too much time in the build up. The first 20-30 minutes are spent with teen Johnny Blaze(Ghost Rider) and Roxanne. By the way, isn't your future already set if your name is Johnny Blaze? Don't you pretty much either have to have a career doing something that requires you traveling in excess of 200 MPH or setting stuff on fire? (Luckily, Ghost Rider gets to do both!) I mean Johnny Blaze, tax accountant just doesn't have the same flair. Then another quarter hour is spent showing us how Mr. Blaze has become the greatest motorcycle daredevil of all time. No matter how big the jump or how horrific the crash he always is okay (Another pet peeve. For his last big feat, he "sets" a new world record by jumping a football field goalpost to goalpost. 300 feet they kept saying. Well, a football field from one goalpost to the other is not 300 feet. It's 360 feet. The posts are at the back of each endzone, which are 10 yards long. The field from post to post is 120 yards...WHICH EQUALS 360 FEET!!!) So it's over 45 minutes before I get my first look at the actual Ghost Rider(I thought I was promised flaming skeletons on motor bikes, people!). And I got to be honest, not all that great. Plus, every time the Ghost Rider rides, everything lining the streets or in close proximity seems to be consumed by flames. Bad gas mileage is one thing, but this? I'm pretty sure Al Gore would not be pleased, no matter what evil you might be trying to thwart. Questions I still had at this point in the picture: What is his(Ghost Rider's) actual purpose? What's so great about having a contract for souls? Does he(Ghost Rider) have super powers? What are they? Honestly, I had very little idea what was going on. It was at this point that the undertaker shows up in the form of Sam Elliot to finally give us some background on the Ghost Rider and his function (I'm glad they only waited an hour!). Sam Elliot was probably the only thing worth watching in this whole mess (and well, maybe whatever dress Eva Mendes might have been filling), but even he was forced to deliver some moments of cheese. So, the Ghost Rider apparently is supposed to return those who have escaped Hell and collect contracts for souls in his downtime from being head truant officer of Hades. Fine, whatever. Let's get this going, already.

So Johnny pursues Blackheart and his band of merry spirits, but is erroneously arrested(honestly, the police's evidence was weak and very circumstantial) for the murders that the devil's son seems to have no qualms about committing. He breaks out of jail (this was surprisingly not that difficult for the chief agent of the prince of the underworld who is aflame and impervious to bullets). The bad guys figure out Ghost Rider is in love ("But now we know he has a weakness.") and kidnap said love (shocker). Ghost Rider then teams up with the undertaker who we discover was the last Ghost Rider who had been "living" surreptitiously for over 200 years (why this is possible is never explained, BTW) while protecting this contract that's so freaking important. Oh, the last Ghost Rider was the one who originally flipped the devil the bird and sent this whole preposterous plot in motion (but Sam Elliot spit and said,"Knucklehead." So, I'm cool with it). So, the Rider meets Blackheart to trade the contract for the girl (1000 souls for one dress-filling lass still seems steep), but he has a plan...he has a plan. Yeah, anyway he wins (with the help of his best girl even though he told her to, "Run!") and everyone is happy...except the devil. Because Johnny tells him he can keep his soul because he's going to use his powers (flaming skull and fancy motor bike that somehow responds to audible commands from afar) for good and battle the devil and his sinister ways (You take that, you Author of Evil, you!). You've got to leave room for a sequel, you know. Which reminds me, I can't wait for Ghost Rider 2.

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