To say that the only thing really going for Ghost Rider is that it is shot in Melbourne, tends to be concerning. For if you don’t happen to be from my home town, the remainder is a startling mess.
Following in the ever-longer line of comic book adaptations for the big screen in recent years, Ghost Rider also unfortunately joins the list of those that just shouldn’t have been made. Films like Elektra, Catwoman and Ghost Rider add nothing to the artform, and barely pass as entertainment. So much money is spent on their production and promotion, they look shiny and pretty and attractive to the average punter who should know better but has somehow forgotten that which has come before.
Evidently something of a passion project for Nicholas Cage who grew up reading the comics, it is hard to believe this is how he feels given the almost lifeless (pun intended) performance he gives here. Whether the audience is supposed to note a hint of a smirk and realise he is just in this for the fun is unclear, but for an actor of considerable talent, it’s a shame to see him so uninspired. Alongside him, Eva Mendes is wasted as the long lost love interest, and Donal Logue gets to play the same disposable sidekick he has mastered in other films like Just Like Heaven, Jerry Maguire and Blade. That he soldiers on, always hoping for something better, is a credit to him.
The major problem facing Ghost Rider is not the lack of inspiration from its titular hero, rather the dull and ineffectual enemies he must face. The fallen angels that represent and take the form of the four elements are beyond pathetic, and their defeats acheived almost without effort. Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider has only to absorb one or two blows before sending them to the depths, and these ‘battles’ are incredibly disappointing. One wonders what the thinking behind this all was – was Ghost Rider supposed to be about character? Perhaps the combination of powers utilised in the equally dull Fantastic Four has discouraged others from allowing their superhero/supernatural characters to team up, but Ghost Rider vs Fire, Earth, Air, and Water ALL AT ONCE may have been a little more challenging.
Looking at the Melbourne skyline is an interesting experience for a film supposedly representing the American West, but the inclusion of several iconic landscape features does provide the only interest for local viewers. For all others, Ghost Rider is best missed.Rating: